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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.

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

Access Bank and FMO Sign Landmark $295 Million Syndicate Tier II Facility Agreement

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Access Bank Plc, sub-Saharan Africa’s largest bank by customer base, has reached a significant milestone in its enduring partnership with the Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank (FMO).

This collaboration, spanning over two decades, marked a historic moment on Tuesday with the signing of a monumental syndicate Tier II Facility agreement valued at $295 million, approximately N442.5 billion.

The relationship between Access Bank and FMO, which began in 2003, has been a testament to their shared commitment to economic development in Nigeria.

This latest agreement, the third of its kind arranged by FMO for Access Bank, represents more than just a financial transaction; it symbolizes the deep-rooted trust and synergy between the two institutions.

This historic agreement is notably the largest syndication in FMO’s history, a substantial investment resulting from a collective effort involving a syndicate of Global Development Finance Institution (DFI) partners.

These partners include esteemed entities such as British International Investment (BII), Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO), BlueOrchard, FinDev Canada, Finnfund of Finland, Norfund of Norway, Oikocredit, and Swedfund of Sweden.

The $295 million facility is earmarked to empower local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with a particular focus on underserved segments such as youth- and women-owned businesses, agricultural enterprises, and very small enterprises.

This significant infusion of capital aims to catalyze growth across various sectors, stimulate business development, create jobs, and deepen financial inclusion, aligning with Access Bank’s mission to drive progress and development throughout the continent and beyond.

The ceremony, held in the Netherlands, was attended by dignitaries including Oluremi Oliyide, Nigerian Ambassador to the Netherlands, and representatives from the Dutch government.

During the event, Roosevelt Ogbonna, MD/CEO of Access Bank Plc, expressed profound gratitude to FMO for their unwavering support and emphasized the bank’s commitment to becoming the world’s most respected African bank by adhering to global best practices and maintaining high standards of accountability.

“Today marks a significant milestone in our longstanding partnerships with FMO. This monumental syndicate Tier II Facility agreement underscores the deep-rooted trust and synergy among our institutions. This facility not only enhances our capital reserves but also strengthens Africa’s trade capabilities and export potential,” Ogbonna said.

“Putting these funds to use, we aim to catalyze growth across various sectors, stimulate business development, create jobs, and deepen financial inclusion.”

In his remarks, Michael Jongeneel, CEO of FMO, stated, “We extend our gratitude to our longstanding partner, Access Bank, and our syndication partners for their outstanding cooperation and collective effort in making this loan facility a reality. The syndicated loan provides significant support to SMEs in Nigeria, particularly underserved segments such as women and young entrepreneurs, aligning perfectly with our shared strategy to enhance financial inclusion and empower local entrepreneurs in the agribusiness and SME sectors.”

Marchel Gerrmann, representing the Dutch government, and members of the syndication partners—BII, Finnfund, and BlueOrchard—were among the distinguished guests who witnessed this historic agreement.

This landmark deal is set to bolster Nigeria’s private sector, providing much-needed support to SMEs and contributing significantly to the country’s economic development.

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Banking Sector

FCMB Halts International Use of Naira Cards, Introduces New Forex Card

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First City Monument Bank (FCMB) has announced its Naira Debit and Credit Cards can no longer be used for international transactions.

In a statement to its customers, FCMB said the volatility and challenges within the foreign exchange market had prompted the bank to make necessary adjustments to provide better financial solutions for customers who travel frequently or make online purchases from international vendors.

The bank has introduced a new Foreign Currency Card linked to a USD or GBP Domiciliary account and offers a significantly higher international spending limit.

The new card boasts a monthly limit of $10,000, double the previous limit of $5,000. Additionally, there is potential for further increases based on customer needs and usage patterns.

FCMB encourages customers to apply for the Foreign Currency Card to continue enjoying seamless international transactions.

The bank assures customers that this card will offer a more robust and reliable option for their foreign spending needs.

“We understand the inconvenience that the discontinuation of Naira cards for international use may cause our customers. However, the introduction of the Foreign Currency Card is a strategic move to ensure that our customers have access to higher spending limits and a more stable transaction experience abroad,” FCMB said in the statement sent to customers.

The bank has urged customers to contact their Relationship Managers or visit any of its branches to apply for the new card.

The process has been streamlined to ensure that customers can transition smoothly to the new system without any disruptions to their international transactions.

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Banking Sector

Adaora Umeoji Highlights Zenith Bank’s Robust Financial Metrics: Says Bank is Poised to Cross The N1 Trillion Mark in Profit in 2024

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Adaora Umeoji

Zenith Bank Plc, Nigeria’s leading financial institution, held its Capital Markets Day last week to showcase the bank’s inherent values as it embarks on its recapitalisation journey.

The event, which brought together key market players, focused on the bank’s growth trajectory, strategic objectives, market performance, and consistent, robust dividend payout over the years.

It also provided an opportunity for the bank to inform capital market stakeholders about its robust risk management culture, adherence to regulations, capital adequacy, and maintenance of low non-performing loan levels.

Addressing capital market stakeholders, investors, and analysts at the event in Lagos, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Dame Dr Adaora Umeoji, highlighted the financial institution’s tier-1 capital of N1.8 trillion, shareholders’ funds of N2.3 trillion, market capitalisation of N1.3 trillion, a profit before tax of N796 billion, and a dividend of N4 per share for the year ended December 2023.

Providing guidance for 2024, she noted that, given the trend of the bank’s performance and having achieved a profit before tax of N796 billion in 2023 and N320 billion in the first quarter of 2024, the bank is on track to deliver over N1 trillion in profit before tax in 2024.

She expressed confidence that, with the quality of the board and management and a strong corporate culture, the bank is well-positioned to deliver superior value to investors and other stakeholders and to navigate the recapitalisation process successfully.

She also disclosed some of the bank’s future plans, which include driving financial inclusion, expanding corporate and retail banking through technology and other state-of-the-art digital platforms, and establishing a fintech subsidiary, ZenPay, to drive profitability.

Also, the bank intends to expand to France and other Francophone African countries.

Dr Umeoji explained, “For us at Zenith, we won’t be left out. We are planning to go to the market to raise capital, and as it stands, Zenith Bank has the least amount of capital to raise. We are looking to raise N230 billion because we are already at N270.7 billion.

That is the least capital to raise among our peers. We believe that Zenith Bank has what it takes. We have the capacity, the network, the balance sheet, the human capital, and the track record to achieve that.

We are planning for the future, and the technology we have now is the best in the entire industry. It will help us to have a seamless process and integrate.”

Also speaking, the Chief Financial Officer/General Manager, Dr Mukhtar Adam, pointed out that in the last five years, the bank’s Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) in revenue has grown by over 27 per cent.

“This continues to grow year-on-year. Within this period, at some point, Nigeria went into recession, but we forged ahead, worked very hard, and continued to deliver growth. Within the last five years, our profit before tax has also grown cumulatively by about 28 per cent. This is a market where, at some point, government instruments – treasury bills – were paying one per cent, two per cent, three per cent. But we forged ahead to grow the numbers and provide stable returns of at least 28 per cent.”

Zenith Bank recently emerged as the Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria, in the World Finance Banking Awards 2024, retaining the award for the fourth consecutive year.

The bank was also named Best Corporate Governance, Nigeria, for the third year running in the World Finance Corporate Governance Awards 2024.

The awards, published in the Summer 2024 issue of World Finance Magazine, recognise the bank’s robust financial performance, superior customer service, sustainability initiatives, and corporate governance practices.

Commenting on the dual honours, Dr. Umeoji said, “These awards highlight our steadfast dedication to excellence, adherence to global best practices, and our persistent effort to deliver superior value to all stakeholders through innovative products and services. Receiving these awards consecutively for multiple years signifies the commitment of our staff, the loyalty of our customers, and the support of our shareholders. We remain devoted to setting industry benchmarks and driving excellence across all aspects of our operations.”

Dr. Umeoji also expressed delight at the recognition and dedicated the awards to the Founder and Chairman, Dr. Jim Ovia, CFR, for his impactful leadership in establishing a robust and flourishing institution.

She also expressed gratitude to the board for their vision and insight, the staff for their unwavering dedication, and the bank’s customers for choosing Zenith as their preferred bank. World Finance is a leading international magazine providing comprehensive coverage and analysis of the financial industry, international business, and the global economy.

In its audited results for the year ended December 31, 2023, Zenith Bank achieved a remarkable triple-digit growth of 125 per cent in gross earnings, from N945.6 billion reported in 2022 to N2.132 trillion in 2023.

The impressive growth in gross earnings resulted in a year-on-year increase of 180 per cent in profit before tax (PBT), from N284.7 billion in 2022 to N796 billion in 2023, while profit after tax (PAT) also recorded triple-digit growth of 202 per cent, from N223.9 billion to N676.9 billion for the period ended December 31, 2023.

The increase in gross earnings was primarily due to growth in interest and non-interest income. Specifically, its interest income increased by 112 per cent, from N540 billion in 2022 to N1.1 trillion in 2023, while non-interest income grew by 141 per cent, from N381 billion to N918.9 billion in the same period.

The rise in interest income was attributed to the growth in the size of risk assets and their effective repricing, alongside the increase in yield of other interest-bearing instruments over the year. Growth in non-interest income was driven by significant trading gains and an increase in gains from the revaluation of foreign currencies.

Zenith Bank’s cost of funds also grew from 1.9 per cent in 2022 to three per cent in 2023 due to the high interest rate environment, while interest expense increased by 135 per cent, from N173.5 billion in 2022 to N408.5 billion in 2023.

Notwithstanding the 32 per cent growth in operating expenses in 2023, the Group’s cost-to-income ratio improved significantly from 54.4 per cent in 2022 to 36.1 per cent in 2023 due to improved top-line performance.

Return on Average Equity (ROAE) increased by 118 per cent, from 16.8 per cent in 2022 to 36.6 per cent in 2023, underpinned by improved gross earnings, as the Group sought to deliver better shareholder returns. Return on Average Assets (ROAA) also grew by 95 per cent, from 2.1 per cent to 4.1 per cent in the same period.

Zenith Bank was established in May 1990 and commenced operations in July of the same year as a commercial bank.

The bank became a public limited company on June 17, 2004, and was listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on October 21, 2004, following a highly successful Initial Public Offering (IPO). In 2013, the bank listed $850 million worth of its shares at $6.80 each on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

Headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria, Zenith Bank Plc has more than 400 branches and business offices in prime commercial centres across all states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Zenith Bank Plc, founded by Jim Ovia, CFR, in 1990, has since grown to become one of the leading financial institutions in Africa. The underlying philosophy is for the bank to remain a customer-centric institution with a clear understanding of its market and environment.

Zenith Bank’s track record of excellent performance has continued to earn the brand numerous awards.

These latest accolades follow several recognitions, including being recognised as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital for the 14th consecutive year in the 2023 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking, published by The Banker Magazine; 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, among several others.

Zenith Bank Plc has blazed the trail in digital banking in Nigeria, achieving several firsts in the deployment of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure to create innovative products that meet the needs of its customers.

The bank is a leader in the deployment of various channels of banking technology, and the Zenith brand has become synonymous with state-of-the-art technologies in banking.

Driven by a culture of excellence and strict adherence to global best practices, the bank has combined vision, skilful banking expertise, and cutting-edge technology to create products and services that anticipate and meet customers’ expectations, enable businesses to thrive, and grow wealth for customers.

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