Agusto & Co. Limited, Nigeria’s foremost research house and rating institution recently released its flagship 2021 Banking Industry Report, which is the most current and comprehensive report on the banking industry in Nigeria based on the review of the financial statements of twenty commercial banks and five merchant banks. The report reviewed the Industry structure, financial condition, the regulatory environment in addition to the macroeconomic environment and its impact on the Nigerian Banking Industry.
According to the report, the COVID-19 pandemic brought about an extraordinary test for the global community. Although the global COVID mortality rate stands low at about 2.2%, casualties increased from less than 3,000 in December 2019 to about 3.9 million as at 30 June 2021. Nigeria’s mortality rate stood comparably lower at about 1% as at the same date. However, the local economy had its fair share of pandemic-related adversities. However, leveraging lessons from the 2016/2017 economic recession, the Nigerian banking industry was better prepared in 2020. Proactive measures in the form of forbearance granted by the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN), enabled banks to provide temporary and time-limited restructuring of facilities granted to households and businesses severely affected by COVID-19. There was generally a cautious approach to lending in the Industry, given difficulties in the operating environment. Although gross loans and advances grew by 12%, loan growth was negative when the 19.3% naira devaluation is considered. Underpinned by the forbearance and proactive measures adopted by banks, the NPL ratio improved to 6.6% (FYE 2019: 7.6%).
The reliability of business continuity measures was tested in 2020, considering the movement restrictions that lasted for months. Most banks showed resilience through innovative measures including remote work arrangements and upgrade of network infrastructure to accommodate higher traffic on digital channels. These arrangements also provided support during the mandatory curfew elicited by the civic unrest that followed the #EndSARS protests in October 2020. Indeed, the pandemic brought to the fore, technology’s crucial role in deepening financial services as some banks recorded as much as a 50% increase in digital banking transaction volumes. However, these gains were limited by the CBN-induced reduction in bank charges, which took effect in January 2020. As a result, electronic banking income declined by 27.3%, accounting for a lower 13.2% (FY 2019: 21.1%) of non-interest income.
The CBN’s policies targeted at lowering interest rates have persisted especially given the dire need to stimulate the economy following adversities created by the pandemic. However, given the need to moderate inflation amidst efforts to maintain a stable exchange rate, the cash reserve requirement (CRR) was increased and standardised to 27.5% for both merchant and commercial banks. The standardised CRR was implemented alongside discretionary deductions. As at FYE 2020, the Industry’s restricted cash reserves exceeded ₦9.5 trillion and translated to an effective CRR of 37%. It is noteworthy that Nigeria has the highest reserve requirement in sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa, Kenya and Ghana all have CRR’s of below 10%. We believe the elevated CRR level moderated the Industry’s performance and liquidity position during the year under review. Assuming the sterile CRR was invested in treasury securities at 5%, ₦482 billion would have been added to the Industry’s profit before taxation. This would have increased the Industry’s return on average equity (ROE) by 11% to 31.6% in the financial year ended 31 December 2020.
Table 3: Impact of Restricted Funds (CRR) on the Banking Industry’s Profitability in FY 2020
|Cash Reserve Requirement||Estimated interest income forgone assuming 5% return|
|Zenith Bank Plc||1,370,619,000||68,530,950|
|Access Bank Plc||1,275,279,265||63,763,963|
|First Bank of Nigeria Ltd||1,230,974,871||61,548,744|
|United Bank for Africa Plc||1,072,094,000||53,604,700|
|Guaranty Trust Bank Plc||1,008,748,051||50,437,403|
|Fidelity Bank Plc||540,129,000||27,006,450|
|Ecobank Nigeria Plc||406,043,000||20,302,150|
|Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Ltd||362,542,981||18,127,149|
|Union Bank of Nigeria Plc||356,452,000||17,822,600|
|Stanbic IBTC Bank Ltd||368,357,000||18,417,850|
|First City Monument Bank Plc||311,746,155||15,587,308|
|Wema Bank Plc||246,974,959||12,348,748|
|Sterling Bank Plc||228,791,000||11,439,550|
|Citibank Nigeria Ltd||209,236,306||10,461,815|
|Polaris Bank Plc||204,832,000||10,241,600|
|Unity Bank Plc||91,130,360||4,556,518|
|Providus Bank Plc||89,567,141||4,478,357|
|Coronation Merchant Bank Ltd||72,327,019||3,616,351|
|FBN Merchant Bank Ltd||39,370,061||1,968,503|
|Nova Merchant Bank Ltd||35,170,012||1,758,501|
|FSDH Merchant Bank Plc||27,061,559||1,353,078|
|Globus Bank Ltd||25,999,790||1,299,990|
|Rand Merchant Bank Ltd||22,899,811||1,144,991|
|Jaiz Bank Ltd||22,590,165||1,129,508|
|Titan Trust Bank Ltd||22,521,705||1,126,085|
FirstBank Expands Its International Money Transfer Network, Reinforces its Commitment to Customer Service
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 Union, MoneyGram, 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.
Global Banking Sector Grows 40% Reviving Pandemic Losses in Just 12 Months
In 2020, the global banking sector took a hit following the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which was reflected in the overall market capitalization. However, with the ongoing global recovery, the banking industry has regained most of the losses incurred during the health crisis.
According to data acquired by Finbold, in just 12 months between Q2 2020 and Q2 2021, the global banking sector’s market cap has surged 39.62%, adding €2.1 trillion from €5.3 trillion to €7.4 trillion. On the path to recovery, the market cap slightly plunged in 2020 Q3 to €5.2 trillion before gaining 17.3% the next quarter.
Among the Western European banks, Spain’s BBVA bank recorded the highest total shareholder return rate at 19.7% between April 2021 – July 2021, followed by Société Générale from France at 13.8%, while Banco Santander, also from Spain, ranks third at 12.1%. United Kingdom’s Barclays is the worst performer with a TSR of -8%. Data on the global banking sector’s market cap is provided by Banking Hub.
How banking sector sustained growth
The registered market capitalization is supported by the large-scale reopening of economies due to the vaccine rollout. Additionally, the banks, especially from major economies like the United States and Europe, have reaped from policies meant to cushion the economy from the adverse effects of the pandemic. Notably, the decisions by most banks to retain a low-interest-rate environment has been beneficial to banks.
Worth noting is that during the pandemic, banks found themselves in a tight spot. Historically, the banking sector has been considered the custodian of the economy but the pandemic also plunged the banks into a crisis. The banking sector’s profits were adversely affected considering they are bound to the business cycle and interest rates.
At the same time, banks also put in place measures like approaching loans with caution due to uncertainty in repaying which directly impacted profits. However, banks were tapped to facilitate the distribution of stimulus packages boosting their capital reserves in return.
Worth pointing out is that institutions like the European Central Banks allowed banks to continue using their capital buffers flexibly with a planned extension until 2022. With such moves helping banks sustain growth, it eliminates the worry of straining capital buffers while the health crisis is still impacting the banks’ balance sheets.
Furthermore, the crisis highlighted the need for banks to keep huge reserves of capital that can be activated in the wake of economic turmoil. Although most banks have historically relied on assets for future cushion, a crisis like the coronavirus calls for more capital because selling assets in such an environment is challenging.
Besides the policies, the banking sector recovery was partly aided by existing operational risk management arrangements. The pandemic tested all financial market participants and most leading banks successfully invoked business continuity plans. The plans ensured that the financial markets continued to run smoothly and orderly.
The sector’s recovery has also been accelerated by other factors like the increased adoption of pre-pandemic trends like digitalization and sustainability. Digitization of operations has been backed by consumers who are willing to conduct transactions online. At the same time, the digital shift has presented a competitive factor in the sector, with institutions that had established online presence benefiting the most.
Notably, the recovery was at some point under threat during the third quarter of 2020 amid concerns of the pandemic’s second wave. However, the sector sustained the gains with the rollout of the vaccine. Furthermore, moving into 2021, the industry appears not to be bothered by the Delta variant.
The future of the banking sector
By sustaining the market capitalization for two consecutive quarters, it can be assumed that the banking sector response to the health crisis is bearing fruits. However, it is still early to determine if the recovery is sustainable.
The rally will be tested, especially when central banks eliminate all the policies meant to cushion the economy. However, in the long run, banks will have to tailor their operations towards changing consumer behaviour.
How Stanbic IBTC is Transforming Nigeria’s Trade Landscape
Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC, a subsidiary of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, has reiterated its commitment to fostering international trade and help the nation actualise its economic growth and development goals.
The Bank said it will continue to fine-tune its three-pronged approach to facilitating trade activities for clients. These are the development of bespoke financial solutions to help boost trade for clients; sponsorship of relevant trade shows that bring together stakeholders in global trade, including exporters and importers; and organisation of seminars and workshops to provide clients and other stakeholders with industry insights and enlighten them on global trade opportunities.
“Our goal is to become the ‘go-to’ Bank as far as global trade is concerned, with emphasis on Africa-China trade. This approach is of immense value to our clients and will help us achieve our fundamental purpose, which is to drive Nigeria’s growth,” Chief Executive Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC, Wole Adeniyi, said.
In line with this resolve, Stanbic IBTC organised a webinar on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The webinar themed: ‘AfCFTA State of Play: Understanding Potential and Maximising Opportunities for the Customer’, emphasised Stanbic IBTC’s readiness to leverage the trade opportunities of the AfCFTA agreement to unlock business opportunities for its clients in the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) sector as well as its corporate clients.
In 2019, Stanbic IBTC launched its Africa China Agent Proposition (now called Africa China Trade Solutions – ACTS) to boost trade transactions between Africa (Nigeria) and Asia, especially China, and help customers consummate the best business deals without having to travel to China.
According to Stanbic IBTC, ACTS will give customers exclusive access to an array of exporters in China through an accredited agent, Zhejiang International Trading Supply Chain Co Ltd, also known as Guamao.
Stanbic IBTC has held various fora as part of its sensitisation drive on ACTS and the currency swap agreement between Nigeria and China. These fora provided insight on how best to help clients and businesses leverage the opportunity and assess the impact of the Chinese economy on trade in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
According to Wole, these workshops were geared towards deepening trade connections with the Chinese business community, thereby stimulating strong trade and business ties between Africa, with a special focus on Nigeria and China.
Stanbic IBTC Bank was a platinum sponsor of the 2021 Global Trade Review (GTR) West Africa Conference themed ‘Connecting the Region’s Trade Experts. The GTR West Africa Conference is an annual regional event for trade discussions and networking among leading practitioners in trade, export, and commodity finance to strategically explore the latest developments, strategies, and solutions needed to drive growth.
Experts have continued to commend Stanbic IBTC on this bold approach to educate its clients and investors about the benefits of AfCFTA, the Nigeria China currency swap deal, and the ACTS proposition, all geared towards helping clients unlock business opportunities.
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