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Banking Sector

Demistifying How FirstBank’s Increased Network of International Money Transfer Operators Puts Customers at an Advantage this Yuletide Season

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Ahead of the yuletide season, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial inclusion services provider, First Bank of Nigeria Limited had announced the expansion of its diaspora remittance network to ensure that customers and the public at large are at an advantage in receiving money from anywhere in the world, irrespective of where they are, across the globe. With the expansion, funds can be accessed from close to 200 countries.  Courtesy of the Bank’s over 750 branch network, individuals in expectant of funds from abroad, remain at an edge in receiving that extra fund to add more glamour, buy that extra gift and generally celebrate the Christmas and New Year with a bold smile and in memorable ways.

FirstBank pioneered international money transfer services in Africa’s largest economy by partnering with Western Union International, the first-ever International Money Transfer Operator (IMTO) in Nigeria. This partnership ensured Nigerians evolved with global diaspora remittance practices, as the Bank introduced US Dollars Payout in 2002, an initiative that has now been adopted by many other financial institutions.

Keen on easing the challenges by many Nigerians to make instantaneous oversea payments and support their wards studying abroad with stipends, FirstBank once again reinvented itself and introduced an outbound service in 2014 spearheading an avenue to promote Person to Person (P2P) transactions such as feeding allowances to students abroad, support, payments, and do so just-in-Time on a global scale.

Since the Central Bank of Nigeria introduced the ‘CBN Naira 4 Dollar Scheme’ on March 8, 2021, FirstBank’s expanded network of International Money Transfer Operators’ include new entries like Wari, Smallworld, Sendwave, Flutherwave, Funtech, Thunes and Venture Garden Group with Western Union, MoneyGram, Ria, Transfast, and WorldRemit being amongst its already existing IMTOs.  Interestingly, recent investigations revealed that efforts are underway by FirstBank to have more IMTOs onboarded to provide seamless service to its esteemed customers.

Speaking on the Bank’s expanded network of International Money Transfer Operator (IMTOs), Mr. Gbenga Shobo, the Bank’s Deputy Managing Director 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.”

To put things in perspective, in 2020 alone, FirstBank processed diaspora remittance valued at N100 billion while in total, the bank served over one million customers across the nooks and crannies of Nigeria

It is important to mention that FirstBank also launched an Auto Creation of USD Account following changes in remittance policy to ensure diaspora remittances sent to recipients’ Naira accounts are automatically credited into their USD Accounts. At FirstBank, customers determine whether they want their USD as cash or directly into their accounts.

Over the years, FirstBank has received several awards and recognition for promoting and leading the forex remittance charge in Nigeria.

To mention a few, FirstBank won the “Fastest Growing Money Agent Award” in 2010; MoneyGram’s “Highest Receiving Agent in Nigeria and the Most Compliant Agent in West Africa”. In 2016, MoneyGram recognised the bank as the “1st Agent in West Africa & 2nd largest Agent in Africa to process transactions that generated a revenue of $10 million on the MoneyGram platform”.

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Banking Sector

FBN Holdings Reports 49% Increase in Profit in H1 2022

FBN Holdings Plc has reported a 48.9% increase in profit after tax for the first half (H1) of 2022.

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Nnamdi Okonkwo

FBN Holdings Plc, the parent company of FirstBank of Nigeria Limited, has reported a 48.9% increase in profit after tax for the first half (H1) of 2022.

The financial services provider announced gross earnings of N359.2 billion for the period under review, an increase of 22.4% when compared to the N293.4 billion recorded in the first half of 2021.

Interest income jumped 40.6% from N161 billion achieved in H1 2021 to N226.4 billion. While the Group’s net interest income rose a whopping 47.3% to N152.9 billion, up from N103.8 billion in H1 2021.

Non-interest income remained largely unchanged at N120.6 billion, a 0.2% decline from N120.9 billion posted in the corresponding period of 2021.

FBN Holdings’ operating income expanded by 21.7% to N273.5 billion from N224.7 billion in H1 2021. The lender’s impairment charges improved by 18.7% to N21.7 billion, down from N26.7 billion in the same period of 2021.

As expected, operating expenses inched higher to N186 billion from N152.6 billion recorded in H1 2021. Profit before tax stood at N65.7 billion a 45.3% increase from N45.2 billion filed in H1 2021.

The total profit realised for the period grew by 48.6% from N38.1 billion in H1 2021 to N56.5 billion in H1 2022.

Earnings per share also rose 48% to N1.55 from N1.05.

Speaking on the group performance, Nnamdi Okonkwo, the Group Managing Director said “FBNHoldings continues to demonstrate resilient performance despite the challenging operating environment with an impressive improvement in revenue and profitability. For the half year 2022, gross earnings and profit before tax grew by 22% y-o-y and 45% y-o-y to N359.2 billion and N65.7 billion respectively. Furthermore, we continue to see good progress across our performance metrics, which remain in line with our focus on driving sustainable growth.

“The Group remains committed in its transformation drive, which has resulted in stronger balance sheet and better asset quality with non-performing loans closing at 5.4% at H1 2022. Similarly, risk management capability remains robust across the Group supporting the drive for enhanced earnings for sustainable capital accretion.

“During the period, cost to income ratio remained flat y-o-y despite the inflationary and currency pressure, as we continue to focus on optimising overall efficiency.

“Our strategic intent remains unchanged in optimising opportunities that drive growth in revenue, profitability, capital accretion and overall operational efficiency that delivers sustainable value to our stakeholders.”

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Banking Sector

FirstBank’s Firstmonie Agents Processed Over N22 Trillion in Transaction Value

FirstMonie Agents have processed over N22 trillion in combined transaction value.

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Nigeria’s leading financial services provider, FirstBank of Nigeria Limited on Thursday said its fast-growing agent banking network, Firstmonie Agents, has collectively processed over N22 trillion in transaction value.

The lender, which announced a profit after tax of N53.3 billion in the first half of the year, said Firstmonie Agents processed transaction volume in excess of 1 billion across all its 180,000 agents that operate in 772 local governments.

In an effort to bring financial services to the unbanked and underbanked segment of the Nigerian society, Firstmonie Agents was the first banking network to operate in all the local government areas, except the two local governments enmeshed in insecurity.

Since its launch, FirstMonie Agent Banking has been providing convenient banking services to Nigerians previously cut off from the financial system, playing a pivotal role in deepening financial inclusion and empowering existing businesses within the communities to deliver these services.

Popularly called ‘Human ATM’, Firstmonie Agents are empowered to reduce the reliance on over-the-counter transactions while providing convenient personalized services. Amongst the services carried out by the Agents include; Account Opening, Cash Deposit, Airtime Purchase, Bills Payment, Withdrawals and Money Transfer.

Through various empowerment and reward schemes implemented to put its Firstmonie Agents at an advantage to economically impact their immediate communities whilst importantly having their business sustained, the Bank’s Agent Banking scheme has remained a toast to Nigerians, irrespective of where they are in the country. Amongst these schemes is the Agent Credit – launched in 2020 – which has had the Bank provide credit facilities to the tune of 238 billion naira to its teeming Firstmonie Agents.

Commenting on the milestone, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, CEO, FirstBank said “since the relaunch of our Agent Banking scheme in 2018, our Firstmonie Agents have played a vital role in bridging the financial inclusion gap in the country, as many more people have been able to undertake various financial and business transactions in cost-effective ways, thereby saving a lot of time and money in travelling over long distances for basic banking services.“

“We are delighted by the giant strides of our Firstmonie Agents in promoting financial inclusion and commend them for their efforts in taking banking to the doorsteps of Nigerians – irrespective of where they are – in a very effective way”, he concluded.

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Banking Sector

Unity Bank Grows Profit After Tax by 23% to N1.6 Billion

Retail lender, Unity Bank Plc has posted gross earnings of N27.6 billion for its 2022 half-year results, representing a growth of 17% year-on-year.

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Unity bank - Investors King

Retail lender, Unity Bank Plc has posted gross earnings of N27.6 billion for its 2022 half-year results, representing a growth of 17% year-on-year.

In its unaudited half-year financials submitted to the Nigeria Exchange Group Limited, the Bank also made significant improvements across key performance indicators.

The Bank grew Profit Before Tax (PBT) by 23% which rose to N1.8 billion from N1.5 billion in the corresponding period of 2021. Profit After Tax (PAT) for the period equally increased by 23% to close at N1.6 billion from N1.382 billion in H1’21.

The key highlights of the financial statements showed growth in interest and similar income, which rose 18% to N23.938 billion from N20.273 billion in the corresponding period of 2021, an indication of sustained growth in the loan book as well as improved earnings from the lender’s robust digital channels, arising from sustained investment in its digital payment infrastructure.

Similarly, the lender posted sustained asset growth as total assets moved up by 7% to N574.3 billion from N538.9 billion in 2021.

Other key highlights of the financial statement include a 12% growth in deposits, which rose to N359.5 billion from N322.3 billion in December 2021, a clear indication of the positive trend of the Bank’s innovative retail products targeting several segments of the retail market as well as enhanced customer acquisition strategies for emerging products rolled out to the market during the period under review.

In the same vain, the lender recorded an increase on its loan books to N303.632 billion from N269.270 billion in 2021, representing a 13% growth.

Commenting on the financial statements, the Managing Director/CEO of Unity Bank Plc, Mrs Tomi Somefun welcomed the H1’22 results. She noted that while the key performance indicators continue on an upward trajectory; PBT (23% YoY), Total Assets (7% YoY) and gross earnings (17% YoY); the outlook for our financial position has now moderated significantly looking at other fees and income lines which performance was hitherto characterised by volatilities in the operating environment.

“As the Bank aims to further grow all indices to double-digit regions in the coming years, one reassuring take from the financial position lies in the market confidence, as well as steadily growing retail and SME franchise arising from the development of products that resonate with different markets segments, which will enable the Bank to continue to operate and successfully navigate the tough operating environment, amid rising economic headwinds,” Mrs Somefun stated.

The Unity Bank boss also stated that having invested massively in technology to drive a major revamp in our digital Banking products and channels including the Unifi Mobile App, our USSD, *7799#, internet banking, etc., the major focus is to drive increased optimisation which will enable the Bank to provide electronic convenience in the way we support our teaming customers and market segments and more often change the way they transact business.

In the view of analysts, the key performance indicators showed that the market sentiments are responding positively to the strategies of the lender’s management to accelerate the growth momentum designed for the Bank.

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