Parallex Bank, a licenced Microfinance Bank, has successfully transited to a commercial bank after 14 years of operations.
According to the bank’s chairman, Dr. Adeola Phillips, the bank is delving into the commercial banking space, to drive consumer-centric innovation that will propel the banking industry to greater heights.
The bank’s Managing Director, Mr. Olufemi Bakre, who spoke during the launch of the bank’s commercial operations, affirmed that the bank’s promise to its customers is to be an enabler of limitless banking. According to him, the vision of the bank is to be the preferred financial solution provider redefining customer experience through innovation.
The bank revealed its plan to disrupt the market and delight customers with very attractive offers. It noted that most transactions on Parallex mobile app are free but beyond that, customers will have the freedom to do much more with the app.
Parallex bank converted from Parallex Microfinance Bank (a National Microfinance Bank incorporated in 2008 as a Unit MFB) to a commercial bank duly licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria to carry out commercial banking services. This is a first-of-its-kind achievement in the Nigerian banking space.
The bank noted that it is “poised to be the preferred financial solutions provider redefining customer experience through digital innovations.
“This we will achieve by leveraging the best talents and technology to deliver unparalleled value to our stakeholders. With a strong ecosystem anchored around the customer, we offer a superior product portfolio that is customer-focused and innovative, yet simple”.
With a vision to leverage the best talent and technology to deliver unparalleled value to all its stakeholders, the bank noted that it is open to working with various stake holders to amplify its impact and capability.
CBN Issues Directive For Open Banking to Improve Financial Services
In an effort to stimulate innovation and widen the range of financial products and services available to banks’ customers, the apex regulatory bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has established the legal framework for Open Banking in Nigeria.
This was revealed in a circular titled ‘Operational guidelines for open banking in Nigeria’ which was obtained by Investors King.
The Regulatory Framework for Open Banking in Nigeria, according to the CBN, establishes standards for data sharing across the banking and payments systems in order to stimulate innovation and expand the range of financial products and services available to bank customers.
According to the CBN, the financial sector data guideline would allow clients to access innovative financial products and services.
The Apex bank said: “Open banking recognises the ownership and control of data by customers of financial and non-financial services, and their right to grant authorisations to service providers to access innovative financial products and services. This is anticipated to drive competition and improve access to banking and payments services”.
The CBN also added that participants in open banking shall adhere strictly to security standards when accessing and storing data, and shall be subject to minimum privacy standards, operational standards, risk management standards and customer experience standards as prescribed by the Bank.
According to the CBN, any organization with customer data that may be transferred with other businesses in order to deliver innovative financial services within Nigeria is eligible to participate in the Open Banking ecosystem.
Open banking is a banking practice in which banks and non-bank financial organizations provide third-party financial service providers open access to customer banking, transaction, and other financial data via application programming interfaces (APIs).
FY 2021: Unity Bank Grosses N50.28bn in Earnings and N3.33bn in Profit
Unity Bank Plc has declared a profit before tax of N3.33 billion in the financial year ended December 2021, indicating a 49.9 percent increase from the N2.22 billion it recorded in 2020.
Similarly, a review of the lender’s 2021 full-year result filed with the Nigeria Exchange Group showed a significant improvement in its bottom line as Profit after tax rose by 52.1 percent to N3.17 billion from N2.09 recorded in the corresponding period of 2021.
The bank also grew gross earnings, rising by 8.1 percent to N50.28 billion from N46.52 billion in 2021.
This comes on the heels of a faster than expected recovery from the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, which provided an opportunity for the lender to expand its retail footprint through strategic product offerings that appealed to broader segments of the market.
Another key highlight of the agribusiness-focused lender’s financial performance is the growth of its assets, which rose by 9.5 percent to close at N538.87 billion from N482.02 billion in 2020, cumulating three years of consecutive high growth.
Equally, the Bank grew assets by 39 percent and 67.9 percent in 2019 and 2020 respectively to see a rebound with an even greater resurgence in the lender’s profitability for two successive years.
Also, in the year under review, the lender grew its loan portfolio significantly, increasing by 33.2 percent to N269.27 billion from N202.08 billion, following the Bank’s aggressive focus on boosting its liquid assets base.
Another top-line performance of the audited financial statements recorded was growth in the lender’s net operating income, which rose to N28.41 billion from N21.3 billion in the corresponding period of 2020, representing a 10.9 per cent increase. This is even as the net interest income recorded a significant jump by 12.2 percent to N20.05 billion from N17.74 billion in the corresponding period of 2020. Earnings per Share closed at 27.15 Kobo.
Commenting on the result, the Managing Director/CEO, Unity Bank Plc, Mrs. Tomi Somefun, stated that the key performance indicators have continued on a trajectory of healthy balance sheet growth, asset quality and profitability achieved on the back of deft diversification of the Bank’s earnings base that balances out fairly in asset creation, investments and trade activities and riding on the innovative customer-centric product offerings for both the retail and consumer segments of the market.
She shared the optimism that given the increased focus of the Bank on growing its retail footprints supported by significant investment being made in technology to expand its digital banking space, the growing contribution of the channels and platforms delivery will further boost the multiple streams of income in the coming years.
She further stated, “the Bank’s growing profile in Agribusiness has now placed it on a pedestal that enables it to attract significant value chain businesses for the continuous growth of its Retail and SME Banking whilst the Bank consistently deploys product development/marketing initiatives to further grow the brand franchise, maximise the benefits and boost retail growth to double digits”.
Overall, positive sentiments around the repositioning of the Bank and the outcome continue to dominate opinion among analysts as informed by the outlook for the future and as market confidence continues to improve.
FirstBank Goes Beyond Banking, Reiterates Commitment To Healthcare Via Pharmacy Credit Facility, Hospital Loans
Just like the words of Anne Wilson Schaefer, good health is not something we can buy. However, it can be an extremely valuable savings account.
For over 128 years now, First Bank of Nigeria Limited has continued to positively impact the lives of its customers in all aspects, healthcare inclusive. In furtherance of its contribution to the health sector, especially in recent times of being amongst the corporate frontrunners in the fight against the covid-19 pandemic, FirstBank, notably known as Nigeria’s premier and leading financial inclusion service provider, recently joined the global community to commemorate the 2022 World Health Day.
World Health Day is a global health awareness day commemorated every year on the 7th of April to mark the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948. The global body uses the opportunity to draw worldwide attention to a subject of major importance to global health.
Themed ‘Our planet, our health’, the 2022 edition is aimed at focusing global attention on the urgent actions needed to “keep humans and the planet healthy.”
The Bank’s impact on the health sector in Nigeria has been achieved through a variety of products specifically designed to meet the operational needs of practitioners and players in the health sector of the country. These products include: Pharmacy Credit Facility, Private Hospital Loan and Diagnostic Centre Loan.
According to the bank, the Pharmacy Credit Facility scheme targets indigenously owned Pharmaceutical shops. These shops have to be either owned or managed by Pharmacists who have valid operating licenses as pharmacists, possess valid premises licenses, and are registered members of the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria.
They are also expected to have been in existence for not less than 2 years. The purpose of the facility shall be for stock replacement purposes or working capital requirements. Also, all payments for the purchase of products will be made directly to the suppliers of the Pharmaceutical Shop.
On the other hand, the Private Hospital Loan provides a facility for indigenously owned private hospitals that are registered with a reputable HMO and have operated for a minimum of 5 years. The purpose of the facility shall be for working capital requirements of running the hospital or for procurement of equipment required for the day to day operations of the Hospital.
Also, the Diagnostic Centre Loan offers the facility for indigenously owned diagnostic centres that are registered with a reputable HMO and have operated for a minimum of 5 years. The purpose of the facility shall be for working capital requirements of running the diagnostic centre or for procurement of equipment required for their day to day operations.
Remarkably, the bank has been at the forefront when it comes to healthcare financing, leading its counterparts in the financial space. In the 2021 financial year, the bank disbursed a total of 2,931,070,000 in health financing.
From the year 2021 to date, the bank has disbursed a total of N5,657,999,000 in health financing, distributed strategically across pharmacies, hospitals and diagnostic centres.
Also worthy of note is the bank’s contribution towards Covid-19 awareness via its digital campaign, “Mask Up, Stay Safe”, which kicked off on 7th December 2020.
In that same 2020, Nigeria’s healthcare workers were not left out in the bank’s generosity, as all staff of FirstBank transformed the social media world and got many Nigerians to do the same, through their various Profile or Display Pictures, using unique photo messages dedicated to healthcare workers battling the coronavirus pandemic on the frontlines, with the hashtag #FirstBankSalutes.
In addition to this, a lot of philanthropists and organizations, including the bank itself, also donated various sums and healthcare equipment, beefing up the needed arsenal to combat the pandemic.
The bank, amongst many activities, stood tall, while also playing an active role in the public-private sector-driven initiatives which were contributory to combatting the coronavirus.
The bank had earlier emerged winner of the AfriSAFE Financial Sector Award 2019 for exemplary contribution to the improvement of health, safety, environment and well-being in Africa at the Africa Safety Award for Excellence.
First Bank of Nigeria Limited operates as a parent company in Nigeria, with subsidiaries ‘FBNBank’ in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, The Gambia, Guinea, Sierra-Leone and Senegal; FBN Bank (UK) Limited in London and Paris. The Bank also has a representative office in Beijing, China.
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