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Banking Sector

UBA: LEO Remains Smartest Banking Chatbot, Hits 3m User Mark

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Oliver Alawuba - Investors King

United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, has stated that it has in the last three years won the hearts of its customers with its artificial intelligence chat bot, LEO, which it stressed, has proven to be the most formidable artificial intelligence chat bot till date; serving an ever-increasing clientele who now have less transaction hassles to worry about.

The bank in a statement said, “Leo is an AI chatbot for banking services currently available on Face-book Messenger, WhatsApp, Apple Device and is set to launch soon on other social media platforms.

“Birthed January 11, 2018, with a firm resolve to prioritise its customers as well as put the bank at the heart of disruptive technologies that will transform the experience of esteemed customers, UBA did just that with a million users becoming hooked in less than three months of its LEO’s inception.”

“Three years later, and with over 3 million customers and counting, UBA’s LEO, has without doubt, remained the smartest Banking Chatbot in Nigeria because of its speed and quick learning intelligence and has continued to evolve with plenty to offer its teeming customers.

“While other financial institutions are still trying to figure to find their feet as regards AI, UBA’s LEO has become a massive success as the AI continues to consolidate on it successes and accolades winning several awards overtime, “it added.

The chat bot, UBA stated, continues to enjoy periodic and systematic upgrade with special emphasis on enhanced advancements and specialised unique features which have clearly earned the chatbot over three million Users.

Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, UBA, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, affirmed that UBA customers indeed agree that LEO is one of the bank’s biggest investments in cutting-edge technology and has been steadily changing the face of banking in the continent.

“UBA’s vision has always been and will remain a dominatingforce in Africa’s digital banking space. Our resolve is to provide unparalleled experience across all channels. We are atechnology-driven institution with vast knowledge in the business that we do and LEO, being a tested, dependable and intelligent personality, replicated on WhatsApp the success it recorded on the Facebook Messenger platform where it started its journey and later on the IOS (iPhone Operating System) platform. It is a solution that is from the customer’s standpoint, easy to use by anyone regardless of demography. LEO is always ready and waiting to help with any form of banking service,” Uzoka said.

“As an app that has been in existence for over nine years, reaching more than 1.5 billion people in over 180 countries, WhatsApp has become very essential in lifestyle and that is why UBA saw the need to include LEO’s services in that very important app and the premium private chat platform has assured that there will be no spam messages, as the development is to enable businesses serve their customers with useful information,” the GMD stated,

Uzoka explained that LEO is already present in over 20 African countries and in three languages and has a number of rich and robust features bound to mesmerise existing and potential customers with services that are extremely fast and secure as all transactions and enquiries are encrypted, end-to-end.

“LEO has the ability to do a wide range of things, including funds transfer, call card top-up, checking of account balance, retrieval of bank statements, instant account openings for new customers, statement to embassy/other banks/microfinance, purchase of airtime/ data, paying of bills (LCC, PHCN, Cable TV), effectively helping with savings and spend limit.

“The AI chatbot also boosts of remarkable innovative features that allows customers make banking Services – Request/stop/confirm Cheques, Block card, Log & track complaints, ATM/Branch Locator, Freeze accounts, and check weather etc. Other features include Customer Care complaint resolution, linking of new account, flight Payment, linking and Funding of Prepaid Card, Travel Notification, Wakanow services and Dubai Visa service, “he explained.

The GMD pointed out that, customers who have engaged with LEO are more than delighted about their experience and credit it for automatically extracting account details without hassles, adding that “Testimonies abound about how it is generally easier to use LEO compared to its counterparts. For example, LEO automatically detects account numbers via a customer’s WhatsApp mobile number and goes ahead to seamlessly help customers check their account balance as well as top-up airtime”.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Banking Sector

Zenith Bank Retains Position As Nigeria’s Number One Bank By Tier-1 Capital For Fifteen Consecutive Years In The 2024 Top 1000 World Banks’ Ranking

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For the fifteenth consecutive year, Zenith Bank Plc has retained its position as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital in the 2024 Top 1000 World Banks’ Rankings, published by The Banker Magazine.

This ranking places Zenith Bank Plc as the 565th Bank globally with a Tier-1 Capital of $2.01 billion. The rankings, published in the July 2024 edition of The Banker Magazine of the Financial Times Group, United Kingdom, recognise Zenith Bank’s continued financial strength and stability.

They are based on the 2023 year-end Tier-1 capital of banks globally and remain the primary source for global bank financials used by most international organisations in their assessments of banks.

Tier-1 Capital describes capital adequacy, the core measure of a bank’s financial strength from a regulator’s perspective.

According to the ranking, Tier-1 Capital, as defined by the latest Bank for International Settlements (BIS) guidelines, includes loss-absorbing capital, i.e., common stock, disclosed reserves, retained earnings, and minority interests in the equity of subsidiaries that are less than wholly owned.

A strong Tier-1 capital ratio boosts investor and depositor confidence, indicating the Bank is well-capitalised and financially stable.

Commenting on this achievement, the Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, Dame (Dr.) Adaora Umeoji, OON, said, “We are deeply honoured to be recognised as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital for the fifteenth consecutive year. This recognition is a testament to our strategic focus on sustainable growth, innovation, and customer satisfaction. It also emphasises our resilience and strength in navigating the ever-evolving financial landscape. Our dedicated team of professionals has remained steadfast in ensuring that we maintain our position at the forefront of the banking industry.”

She extended her profound and sincere appreciation to the Founder and Chairman, Dr. Jim Ovia, CFR, whose visionary and transformative leadership has played a pivotal role in cultivating a resilient and thriving establishment.

She also expressed her deep appreciation for the board’s insightful governance, the staff’s relentless dedication, and the unwavering loyalty of the bank’s esteemed customers to the Zenith brand.

Zenith Bank’s financial performance for the year was driven by a remarkable triple-digit growth of 125% in gross earnings, from N945.6 billion reported in 2022 to N2.132 trillion in 2023. This growth led to an improved market share in both the retail and corporate segments despite a persistently challenging macroeconomic environment.

The increase in gross earnings was primarily due to growth in interest and non-interest income. Interest income growth was attributed to the increase in the size of risk assets and their effective repricing, while non-interest income was driven by significant trading gains and gains from the revaluation of foreign currencies.

Zenith Bank recently commenced recapitalisation efforts with the conclusion of its Capital Markets Day held on 11th July 2024. It aims to raise the least amount of capital amongst its peers at N230 billion, considering it already maintains a robust capital base of N270.7 billion.

The Bank remains dedicated to supporting the growth of the Nigerian economy and providing its numerous customers with innovative and efficient banking solutions.

Zenith Bank’s track record of excellent performance has continued to earn the brand numerous awards, with these latest accolades coming on the heels of several recognitions. These include being recognised as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital for the fourteenth consecutive year in the 2023 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking, published by The Banker Magazine.

The Bank was also awarded the Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards for 2020 and 2022; and Most Sustainable Bank, Nigeria in the International Banker 2024 Banking Awards.
Further recognitions include Best Bank in Nigeria for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022 in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards and Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria for three consecutive years from 2021 to 2023 in the World Finance Banking Awards.

Additionally, Zenith Bank has been acknowledged as the Best Corporate Governance Bank, Nigeria, in the World Finance Corporate Governance Awards for 2022 and 2023, and ‘Best in Corporate Governance’ Financial Services’ Africa for four consecutive years from 2020 to 2023 by the Ethical Boardroom.

The Bank’s commitment to excellence saw it being named the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands for 2020 and 2021, and Retail Bank of the Year for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022 at the BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards.

The Bank also received the accolades of Most Sustainable Bank, Nigeria, in the International Banker 2023 Banking Awards, Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria and Best Innovation in Retail Banking, Nigeria, in the International Banker 2022 Banking Awards. Zenith Bank was named Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020, Bank of the Year 2021 by Champion Newspaper, Bank of the Year 2022 by New Telegraph Newspaper, and Most Responsible Organisation in Africa 2021 by SERAS Awards.

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Banking Sector

Jaiz Bank Boosts Chairman’s Income to N24m Amidst Strategic Expansion

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Jaiz Bank

Jaiz Bank has announced a 20% increase in its chairman’s annual income to N24 million.

This decision was unveiled in a recent statement filed with the Nigeria Exchange Limited, highlighting the bank’s commitment to rewarding leadership amidst its expansion plans.

The bank, renowned for its pioneering role in non-interest banking in Nigeria since 2012, also approved a remuneration package of N20 million for each non-executive director.

The announcement was made by the bank’s secretary, Mohammed Shehu, highlighting the importance of competitive compensation for board members who provide crucial oversight and strategic guidance.

Shareholders at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) expressed confidence in the board’s leadership by approving the resolution on directors’ fees.

This move aligns with Jaiz Bank’s ongoing efforts to enhance its capital base to N70 billion by the end of 2024.

The bank also announced a dividend of 4 kobo per share, which will be distributed to shareholders on July 16, 2024.

This dividend declaration was welcomed as a testament to the bank’s operational success in a challenging economic climate.

Also, the AGM saw the re-election of Muhammadu Indimi and Muhammad Abdulmutallab as non-executive directors, reaffirming shareholder trust in their leadership capabilities.

Jaiz Bank’s financial performance has been impressive, with a 67% increase in profit before tax, reaching N11.1 billion in 2023.

Gross earnings also rose by 42% to N47.2 billion from the previous year, showcasing the bank’s successful growth strategy.

As Jaiz Bank continues to expand its services, the enhanced remuneration package signals a commitment to maintaining strong governance and leadership, paving the way for future achievements in ethical banking.

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Banking Sector

Nigeria Plans 50% Windfall Tax on Banks’ Currency Profits

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Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu has announced a one-time 50% tax on windfall profits that banks reaped from currency gains following last year’s naira devaluation.

This decision was part of the government’s strategy to navigate the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

The naira, which has depreciated by about 70% against the dollar since foreign exchange rules were relaxed in June 2023, allowed banks holding dollar assets to significantly boost their income.

However, the Central Bank of Nigeria had advised lenders to retain these profits as a buffer against potential future losses.

The proposed tax will apply to the 2023 financial year, with non-compliance resulting in hefty fines.

The move has already impacted the NGX Banking Index, which fell by 1.3% as of midday trading in Lagos. Notable declines were seen in FBN Holdings Plc and Zenith Bank Plc, dropping 3.2% and 2.5% respectively.

This initiative mirrors similar actions in Europe, where countries like Italy and Hungary have imposed taxes on banks to address what they view as excessive profits during periods of high inflation and interest rates.

European banks have criticized these measures, warning of potential impacts on economic growth due to constrained lending capabilities.

President Tinubu’s administration believes this tax will help manage Nigeria’s fiscal challenges while addressing social needs.

Lawmakers are expected to support the measure, alongside a proposal to increase government spending by 6.2 trillion naira ($3.8 billion).

While banks have benefited from currency revaluations, many customers, particularly manufacturers with dollar-denominated loans, faced significant losses as they struggled with the weaker naira.

The new tax policy highlights the government’s broader efforts to stabilize the economy and attract foreign investment, aiming to ensure a more equitable distribution of financial gains.

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