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Banking Sector

Union Bank Reports N6.9 Billion Profit in Q1 2021

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Union Bank Plc, a leading financial institution in Nigeria, grew profit before tax by 12 percent from N6.2 billion filed in the first quarter (Q1) of 2020 to N6.9 billion in the first quarter of 2021.

In the unaudited financial statements released for the quarter, the bank’s gross earnings declined by 15 percent from N42.6 billion recorded in Q1 2020 to N36.4 billion in Q1 2021.

Similarly, operating expenses were down by 4 percent to N17.3 billion in Q1 2021, down from N18 billion in Q1 2020.

Union Bank Financial Highlights

● Profit before tax: up 12% to ₦6.9bn (₦6.2bn in Q1 2020); driven by higher non-interest income and lower operating expenses.
● Gross earnings: down 15% to ₦36.4bn (₦42.6bn in Q1 2020) driven by lower interest environment in the Nigeria financial sector
● Net operating income after impairments: relatively flat at ₦24.3bn (₦24.2bn in Q1 2020).
● Non-interest income: up 10% to ₦14.1bn (₦12.9bn in Q1 2020); driven by successful debt recovery efforts.
● Operating expenses: down 4% to ₦17.3bn (₦18bn in Q1 2020); an outcome of sustained cost optimisation efforts
● Gross loans: up 3% at ₦757.4bn (₦736.7bn in Dec 2020)
● Customer deposits: flat at ₦1.1trillion (₦1.1 trillion in Dec 2020)
● Non-performing loans ratio: flat at 4%

Speaking on the Performance, Emeka Okonkwo, CEO said: “I’m pleased to be able to provide the first set of quarterly results under my tenure as CEO following a smooth transition in leadership. Despite the challenging economic climate, our Bank has maintained a steady performance that we can build on for the rest of the year.

“The Bank has responded well to the challenges in the market since the onset of the pandemic. Our overall efforts in Q1 delivered a 12% growth in PBT. We are particularly pleased with the consistent growth we are seeing in transaction volumes which validates our digital-led strategy and is delivering returns. By prioritizing personalized solutions and enabling self-service, we are attracting transaction-backed deposits and enhancing customer knowledge to better manage risk.

“Our performance was also supported by strong debt recovery efforts which contributed to growth in non-interest income, enabling us to maintain net operating income at N24.3bn despite the significant reductions on net interest margins across the industry since Q1 2020.”

“Going forward, we will continue to focus on accelerating digitization to drive customer acquisitions and transactions. Our business and operating model are being enhanced to deliver on revenue and product penetration targets across geographies and segments where we have identified opportunities.

Speaking on the Q1 2021 numbers, Chief Financial Officer, Joe Mbulu said: “We have continued to deliver improved efficiency, enabling growth in PBT, which grew by 12% to ₦6.9bn. We are continuing to partly mitigate the impact of a lower interest margin and high inflation environment by maintaining a focus on cost which drove a reduction in operating expenses by 3.4% from N18bn to N17.3bn and an enhanced cost-income ratio of 71.4%, from 74.3% in Q1 2020.

“The 10% growth in non-interest income recorded during the quarter was supported by strong growth in recoveries as well as an improvement in net income from other financial instruments which rose by 109% to ₦3bn from ₦1.4bn.

“Our capital position remains strong, with a capital adequacy ratio (CAR) of 17.3%, while our non-performing loan ratio remains good at 4%. These are critical enablers to deliver our 2021 strategic priorities.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Banking Sector

Polaris Bank Set to Boost Nigerian’s Digital Banking Ecosystem, Unveils a New Digital Bank

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With the rising opportunities in the e-payment systems accelerated by the COVID-19 era sweeping across the world, there are indications that one of Nigeria’s leading retail franchise, Polaris Bank, has thrown its hat into the ring as it unveils a new digital Bank.

Feelers indicate that the Bank’s new Digital Bank which has for some time been in test mode amongst its staff and customers is set to grow its market share, targeting a new generation of digital natives and immigrants who are socially and financially aware of innovations in self-service and stress-free transactions. According to industry players, the long wait which greeted the launch was to ensure that the platform is robust enough to meet prevailing global standards and support other existing entities in the digital banking ecosystem.

As part of its enterprise transformation initiatives, the Bank has overhauled its IT infrastructure within the last two years and upgraded its digital capability. According to the Bank’s Managing Director/CEO, Innocent Ike, “this has seen the institution grow to earn the confidence of the banking publics, as it has been able to offer quality banking services at the cutting edge of technology.” The plaudits which greeted the Bank’s recently published 2020 financial performance, has further earned the Bank’s digital transformation efforts, a shot in the arm.

Polaris’ digital Bank, offers a suite of services not readily provided by competitors. Some of such bundled benefits include; access to instant loans, accessing the platform service without being a prior customer of the Bank, and end-to-end account opening without entering a physical bank.

One of the competitive benefits of the Bank is its creation of a collaborative ecosystem that enables Application Programming Interface (API) Banking. API banking refers to a system that makes a bank’s services available to other third-party companies via APIs. API Banking helps both banks and third-party companies augment their complementary specialties and offerings more than they can provide to their customers by themselves.

Through its API, Polaris Bank is reported to have so far onboarded new business start-ups, improved their market access, and ensured profit sharing with partners within the financial technology space. The Agro-businesses, educational institutions, e-commerce, are all set to benefit from the Bank’s platform.

According to recent data released by the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), the volume of electronic payment transactions increased by 80 percent year-on-year to 54.07 billion in the first quarter of 2021 from 30.04 billion in the same period of last year.

As a result of the rise in e-payment transactions, income generated by banks via electronic channel transactions also increased by around 52 percent to N53.4 billion in the period under review compared with N35.2 billion in the same period of last year.

With the grand entry of Polaris Bank into the digital Banking space, it is expected that at the close of 2021, the 2020 NIBSS figures will grow exponentially and bolster the overall performance of the country’s e-payment ecosystem. Indeed, many youngsters and digital native enterprises constitute most of the population and the early adopters of digital innovation and lifestyle.

Polaris Bank is a future-determining bank committed to delivering industry-defining products, services, and digital platforms across all the sectors of the Nigerian economy. The Bank is a member of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), which seeks to engage the private sector and the global financial sector to help create a financial sector that serves people and the planet while delivering positive impact.

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Banking Sector

Ecobank Partners NiDCOM to Mobilise Nigerians Abroad for National Development

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In a bid to fulfill it’s objectives and mandate, the Pan African Bank has promised to support Nigerians living and working abroad through it’s partnership with NiDCOM.

The Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan has stated that the bank is privileged to work closely with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, (NiDCOM) and will continue to pursue one of its key mandates of helping to enhance the economic development and integration of Africa through its support to Nigerians living and working abroad.

Speaking at the maiden edition of the Diaspora Quarterly Lecture Series with Ecobank as the sole banking partner which took place on Saturday, 8th May 2021, he noted that Ecobank remains a critical bridge for Nigerians abroad, as it has made huge investments in the necessary platforms to enable them connect with home seamlessly. The event held online and had over 2000 participants from across all the continents in attendance.

“Nigerians in the diaspora play a major role in nation building, their contribution goes a long way to catalyse economic development. For us at Ecobank, we are a pan-African institution positioned to foster the economic growth and integration of our continent, so we are particularly pleased to work closely with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), ably led by the Chairman/CEO, Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa”.

“We are committed to ensuring that every Nigerian living abroad is able to remit home seamlessly and affordably, access viable investment opportunities and as the financial institution of choice for Nigerians abroad, we have deployed the necessary resources to actualise this.” He stated.

The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who was also present, reiterated the readiness of the government to collaborate with Nigerians in the diaspora, highlighting the new processes put in place to facilitate passport issuance, noting that all backlog of passport applications would be cleared by the end of May 2021.

Also speaking, the Hon. Minister of State, Foreign Affairs Amb. Zubairu Dada said harnessing the human capital and material resources of Nigerians in the diaspora towards the socio-economic, cultural, and political development of Nigeria can no longer be ignored. He pointed out that the Nigerian diaspora community is well educated, resourceful, skilled, and exposed to global best practices.

The NiDCOM Chairman/CEO, Hon. Abike Dabiri- Erewa explained that the Diaspora Quarterly Lecture Series is projected to be a major aspect of national discourse, where Nigerians abroad can be kept abreast of the government’s policies, programmes and projects.

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Banking Sector

Wema Bank Unveils Hackaholics 2.0 Bootcamp Winners, Gives Out Over N8M Seed Fund

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Wema Bank’s Hackaholics 2.0, an acceleration aimed at helping startups scale and gain entrance into the market, came to an exciting end as the finalists were unveiled on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, at the Bank’s corporate head office in Marina, Lagos.

Themed, “Connecting Worlds” the Acceleration Program was a two-day virtual pitch which ran from October 30 – 31, 2020, for 20 participants across five industry pillars – Fintech, Agritech, Edutech, Gaming, and Healthtech, who qualified from a pool of over 100 entries received.

The Bank presented four startups comprising two people each with N2,187,500.00 startup fund. The winners emerged across each industry after a four-week Bootcamp under the supervision of a best-in-class acceleration curriculum delivered by seasoned faculty and tech specialists from GreenHouse Capital, official partners of the event.

The Managing Director/CEO, Wema Bank, Ademola Adebise congratulated the winners and expressed satisfaction with the quality of competition and the entire process.

“We are happy to see the winners emerge and are positive that you guys will be the unicorns of tech solutions in the next couple of years,” he said.

“For us at Wema Bank, we will continue to support innovations and innovative ideas, support our youths, and support our women to thrive. We believe that is the way to go and significantly grow and support the economy,” Adebise said.

The winning start-ups are:

Fintech Category: Oladayo Awotukunbo of Plumpter, a Fintech brand that created a marketplace for secure payments to foreign parties and quick banking.

Gaming/Betting Category: Ernest Akinlola and Obayemi Okubajo of My Lotto Hub, a digital startup pioneering the aggregation of lottery operators and enabling lottery punters to manage all their operations in a single platform

Agritech Category: Aderinola Amole and Olamide Oyinlola of FarmSquare, a brand that focuses on using the e-commerce model to simplify the demand and supply of Agricultural inputs in Nigeria.

Healthtech Category: Uche Udekwe and Joy Chioma of Natal Cares, a startup with a product that optimizes the healthcare value chain to reduce the high mortality rate for pregnant women and children.

Speaking at the event, Chief Financial Officer, Wema Bank, Tunde Mabawonku, reinforced the internal and external growth integration stance of the bank saying: “We realized very early that financial service delivery has moved beyond bricks and mortar physical interactions, hence, at Wema Bank we repositioned internally, invested strategically and heavily in technology to drive Digital Optimization of our services”.

“Second, we realized we can’t innovate all from within, we need to drive innovation from outside. We then created “Hackaholics” the Wema Bank Hackathon. The idea is to bring fresh minds, fresh ideas, fresh insights, into solving day-to-day societal problems leveraging technology. We are also working with third-party resource providers we can invest in to grow the solutions for societal impact”. Mabawonku added.

Chief Digital Officer, Wema Bank, Segun Adeniyi emphasized the importance of the Bank’s sustainability footprints. “We aim this initiative at deepening the impact of innovation in the ecosystem and create an opportunity to drive that ecosystem. There is a plethora of start-ups and innovators out there who don’t have the right environment to upscale those ideas into commercial value”.

“What we have done is giving some seed to them in funding, and more importantly, we have given them advisory. We have helped them to look at the ideas they have, flesh them into commercial value, help them articulate the problem, identify unique areas where and how they can solve those problems, and identify their target market.”

The winning startups all expressed gratitude to Wema Bank for the seed fund and commended the bank for the initiative. They said the Hackathon Bootcamp has broadened their horizon. They expressed that the seed funding from Wema Bank will help to upscale their businesses to the desired place.

“For us at Wema Bank, this is not just CSR. It is creative self-disruption. We are attuned to what is going on in the ecosystem, we are keen to be part of it, we are enthusiastic about sharing our own experiences with the start-ups. It is part of why we stay vibrant and relevant as an organization,” Adeniyi concludes.

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