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Banking Sector

Firstbank Impacts Its Firstmonie Agents With a 100 Billion Naira Loan

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Barely a year after the launch of its Agent Credit scheme, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s leading financial inclusion services provider, has announced that it has economically empowered its Firstmonie Agents with the sum of N100 billion. The Bank currently has over 120,000 Firstmonie Agents, spread across 772 Local Government Areas in the country.

The Agent Credit scheme was created by the banking giant to promote and expand the business activities of its foremost agent banking platform – Firstmonie Agents – whilst putting them at an advantage to positively impact their immediate environment.

Firstmonie Agents have been integral to bridging the financial exclusion gap, providing convenient banking services that are easily accessible, thereby saving time and travel costs for individuals in the suburbs and remote environments that have no access to financial services.

The Bank’s financial inclusion activities are in line with the mandate of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ensure the availability of affordable financial products and services to all individuals and groups of people in the country, irrespective of location, literacy levels, familiarity with technology and accessibility to modern infrastructural facilities. The Firstmonie Agent channel is amongst the Bank’s many initiatives to expand financial access in the country.

Reiterating the Bank’s role in deepening financial inclusion in the country, Chuma Ezirim, Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products, said “we are truly excited about the tremendous impact of the Agent Credit on the performance of our Firstmonie Agents nationwide. Since the introduction of the Agent Credit to support our ‘Human ATMs’ as we fondly call our Firstmonie Agents, they have recorded immense growth in their businesses, at levels they never envisaged in such a short period.

Our key goal is to continue to deliver financial services to the underserved and unbanked populations, employing modern technology for processing real-time transactions and in doing so, contribute to building capacities and learning new skills in information technology, cash management and relationship management for our FirstMonie agents.

We encourage our Firstmonie Agents to keep being exemplary in setting the pace to promote financial inclusion as we collectively work towards the continuous growth and development of the national economy.”

About FirstBank

First Bank of Nigeria Limited (FirstBank) is the premier Bank in West Africa and the leading financial inclusion services provider in Nigeria for over 127 years.

With over 750 business locations and over 120,000 Banking Agents spread across 99% of the 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria, FirstBank provides a comprehensive range of retail and corporate financial services to serve its over 30 million customers. The Bank has international presence through its subsidiaries, FBN Bank (UK) Limited in London and Paris, FBNBank in the Republic of Congo, Ghana, The Gambia, Guinea, Sierra-Leone and Senegal, as well as a Representative Office in Beijing.

The Bank has been handy at promoting digital payment in the country and has issued over 10million cards, the first bank to achieve such a milestone in the country. FirstBank’s cashless transaction drive extends to having more than 12million people on its USSD Quick Banking service through the nationally renowned *894# Banking code and over 4.5 million people on FirstMobile platform.

Since its establishment in 1894, FirstBank has consistently built relationships with customers focusing on the fundamentals of good corporate governance, strong liquidity, optimised risk management and leadership. Over the years, the Bank has led the financing of private investment in infrastructure development in the Nigerian economy by playing key roles in the Federal Government’s privatisation and commercialisation schemes. With its global reach, FirstBank provides prospective investors wishing to explore the vast business opportunities that are available in Nigeria, an internationally competitive world-class brand and a credible financial partner.

FirstBank has been named “Most Valuable Bank Brand in Nigeria” six times in a row (2011 – 2016) by the globally renowned “The Banker Magazine” of the Financial Times Group; “Best Retail Bank in Nigeria” for seven consecutive years (2011 – 2017) by the Asian Banker International Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards and “Best Bank in Nigeria” by Global Finance for 15 years. Our brand purpose is always to put customers, partners and stakeholders at the heart of our business, even as we standardise customer experience and excellence in financial solutions across sub-Saharan Africa, in consonance with our brand vision “To be the partner of the first choice in building your future”.

Our brand promise is always to deliver the ultimate “gold standard” of value and excellence. This commitment is anchored on our inherent values of passion, partnership and people, to position You First in every respect.

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.

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Banking Sector

Stanbic IBTC: Working Towards Net Zero Emissions

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As part of the Stanbic IBTC 2021 Sustainability Week event, Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, a member of Standard Bank Group, organised a sustainability webinar tagged “Working Towards Net Zero Emissions”.

The objective of the virtual event which was held on Monday, 20 September 2021 via the Group’s #Bluetalks platform, was to promote public awareness on the impact of climate change and provide practical methods towards reducing carbon footprints and achieving net zero emissions.

Delivering his opening remark at the event, Dr. Demola Sogunle, Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC said: “We all cannot continue to ignore our responsibility in the current changes to the climate. Through small adjustments leading to a more conscientious and sustainable lifestyle, each one of us can take part in the global climate protection project. As reflected in one of our strategic value drivers SEE (Social, Environmental and Economic) Impact, Stanbic IBTC is focused on ensuring it does business responsibly whilst positively impacting the society and environment where we operate. As such, the 2021 Stanbic IBTC Sustainability Week is an opportunity for us to advance awareness around practical steps we are taking, and more which we can take, to make our world a better place.”

The webinar featured seasoned experts including Temesoye Jack, Group Head, Sales, Banks, Gas Stations and SMEs, Starsight Energy; Professor Kenneth Amaeshi, Chair in Sustainable Finance and Governance at the European University Institute (EUI) and Oluwasegun Olajuwan, Group Chief Executive Officer, THLD Group.

Temesoye Jack stated that renewable energy sources like solar energy can help countries attain net zero emissions. She said, “Solar energy can help us move towards reducing greenhouse emissions. We need to have more energy efficient offices nationwide. However, this shift will not happen overnight as it is a gradual process.”

She explained that Nigeria has barely scratched the surface when it comes to renewable energy and emphasised that sustainable practices do not have to end in the office but must be observed in all areas of the country

Prof. Kenneth Amaeshi highlighted the importance of harmonising technology upgrades and sustainable growth to reduce carbon emissions. He explained that sustainability at the global level is targeted at mitigating the adverse effects of climate change.

According to Prof. Kenneth, “From recent surveys, it is clear individuals are ready to go green. The affordability of clean energy will determine if we will be able to reduce carbon emissions.”

Speaking on practical steps that can be adopted to help in achieving net zero emissions, Oluwasegun Olajuwan, Group Chief Executive Officer, THLD Group, said “Autogas has been around for 40 years, and Nigeria is not fully embracing it. It is safer, cleaner and more cost effective than fossil fuel and diesel. Vehicle conversion from fuel to Autogas is affordable. CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) is more efficient than fuel. The use of CNG in vehicles mitigates the emission of nitrous oxide and hydrocarbons by 40% and 90% respectively, compared to petrol.”

Omolola Fashesin, Head of Sustainability at Stanbic IBTC, thanked the panellists for the informative session, which helped create awareness of alternative sources that can help reduce carbon emissions. She urged the participants to apply learnings from the webinar to take practical steps to reduce their carbon footprint.

Finally, in his closing remarks, Kunle Adedeji, Executive Director Finance and Value Management stated that “at Stanbic IBTC, we are committed to facilitating a better and more sustainable future for all. We have already commenced various workstreams that will help us on the journey towards Net Zero emissions. Some of these include understanding our energy sources, consumption patterns and possible areas for efficiency; adoption of cleaner energy sources in our office locations (leveraging Autogas and Solar energy solutions); and adoption of Tree Planting programs which will help us with carbon sequestration.”

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Banking Sector

Fitch Upgrades Bank Of Industry’s National Rating to ‘AAA(Nga)’

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Fitch Ratings has upgraded Bank of Industry’s (BoI) National Long-Term Rating to ‘AAA(nga)’ from ‘AA+(nga);’ and affirmed the Nigeria-based bank’s Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘B’ with a Stable Outlook.

It said the upgrade of BOI’s Long-Term National Rating of ‘AAA(nga)’ reflects the linkage between the bank and the sovereign has strengthened, as evident in the significant size of the CBN guarantees provided for BOI’s recent external funding.

The full list of rating actions shows that “BOI’s Long-Term IDR and SRF are equalised with the Long-Term IDR of the sovereign as we believe that the Nigerian authorities have a high propensity to support BOI.

Fitch said its assessment primarily reflects the following: The bank’s important and clearly defined policy role in funding economic growth in Nigeria; Its 99.9% state ownership, split between the Ministry of Finance (94.8%) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN; 5.1%); and the entirety of the bank’s wholesale funding being either provided or guaranteed by the Nigerian state. However, Fitch also views the ability of the authorities to support BOI as limited by Nigeria’s ‘B’ Long-Term IDR.

BOI is Nigeria’s primary development bank, with the mandate of financing the country’s emerging industrial sector.

The bank plays an important role in supporting government policies and in providing counter-cyclical loans since the onset of the economic crisis resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the international rating agency, “BOI’s funding has increased substantially since March 2020, as the bank secured two large syndicated loan facilities of EUR1 billion and USD1 billion from syndicates of commercial banks and multilateral development banks, which are fully guaranteed by the CBN. The proceeds of the borrowings are swapped with the CBN, boosting its foreign-exchange (FX) reserves and providing BOI with Nigerian naira to support its developmental activities.”

“BOI’s management has indicated that this fundraising will serve to expand the bank’s lending to priority sectors. It might take BOI substantial time to channel the recently attracted funding to borrowers and as of end-1H21, 48% of BOI’s total assets were kept in liquid government bonds and cash, compared with 20% at end-2019.

Fitch says BOI maintains solid capitalisation and leverage metrics (end-1H21: equity-to-asset ratio of 19.4%), which is prudent for the bank’s exposure to the volatile operating environment.

“Profitability is not a key objective; however, BOI continues to generate reasonable returns on equity (1H21: 18% annualised) driven by healthy net interest margins and, so far, moderate loan impairment charges,” Fitch noted.

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Banking Sector

FirstBank Expands Its International Money Transfer Network, Reinforces its Commitment to Customer Service

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In furtherance of the need to expand diaspora remittance inflow into the country, First Bank of Nigeria Limited has increased its network of International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs), targeted at easing the accessibility of its customers to receive money from close to 100 countries across the world in a safe and secured manner. With over 750 branches across the country, customers can receive money from the nearest FirstBank branch closest to them.

Over the years, FirstBank has been in partnership with Western UnionMoneyGram, Ria, Transfast, and WorldRemit. The bank is also in partnership with other IMTOs which include Wari, Smallworld, Sendwave, Flutherwave, Funtech, Thunes and Venture Garden Group to promote remittance inflow into the country, thereby putting Nigerians and residents at an advantage in receiving money from their families, friends and loved ones across the world.

Beneficiaries can receive remittance in US dollars in any of our over 750 branches spread across the country. Customers without an existing domiciliary account can have dollar account automatically created for their remittances. You can also receive inflow directly into your account through Western Union.

In addition, FirstBank has launched its wholly owned remittance platform named First Global Transfer product to promote the international transfer of funds across its subsidiaries in sub-Saharan Africa. These subsidiaries include FBNBank DRC, FBNBank Ghana, FBNBank Gambia, FBNBank Guinea, FBNBank Sierra-Leone, FBNBank Senegal.

Reiterating the Bank’s resolve in promoting diaspora remittances, regardless of where one is across the globe, the Deputy Managing Director, Mr Gbenga Shobo said “at FirstBank, expanding our network of International Money Transfer Operators is in recognition of the significant roles diaspora remittances play in driving economic growth such as helping recipients meet basic needs, fund cash and non-cash investments, finance education, foster new businesses and debt servicing.

We are excited about these partnerships, as it is essential to ensure our customers are at an advantage to receive money from their loved ones and business associates, anywhere they are, across the world.”

FirstBank pioneered international funds transfer and remittances over 25 years ago and has been at the forefront of promoting cross border payments in the country, having started the journey with Western Union Money Transfer. The Bank’s wealth of experience and operation in over 750 locations nationwide gives it the edge in the market.

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