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How FirstBank Is Making Customers Stay-Connected Through Its e-Channels

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BY FUNKE OSAE-BROWN

Folarin is a smart entrepreneur who is in touch with technological advancement and the digital age. He has different apps on his mobile phone which he uses to organise both his business and private lives.  He has a food app which he uses to order for his breakfast and lunch, he has another one that takes care of his love for music and another which he uses to manage his transactions online without stepping into a bank. He tells me, his bank is forward looking and futuristic enough to make banking easy for him and his clients.

 “I have been banking with FirstBank since I was in school as an undergraduate, says Folarin. My mum opened the account for me. That was where she sent my monthly allowance.  After school, I didn’t close the account I simply continued with the tradition.”

It was not difficult for Folarin to decide he would open his corporate account with FirstBank when he started his business a few years ago. He says the ease at which he gets his transactions done on FirstBank’s application, FirstMobile, endears him to the bank.

“I can do many transactions with FirstMobile. I can do bank transfers, check my balance, receive alerts on any transaction I do. There is also a beneficiary section that enables me save the account numbers of people close to me for future transactions.”

The FirstMobile App has over the years offered succour to FirstBank customers.

Folake Ani-Mumuney, Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications, FirstBank says “FirstBank wanted a truly branchless experience forits customers and thus enhanced the app to deliver an instant, remote, self-enrolment feature. Hence, in 2015, onboarding process on FirstMobile was improved with self-service feature; empowering customers to remotely complete their onboarding process on the App without visiting a branch.”

In addition, Chuma Ezirim, Group Head, e-Business, First Bank of Nigeria Limited said the soft token was also launched to satisfy the needs of customers who did not want to carry the hard token about. “It serves the same purpose as the hard token but provides the advantage of convenience and mobility as it is installed in the customer’s mobile phone,” he noted.

Another interesting digital service platform by FirstBank is the FirstBillsPay, a biller aggregator platform. It aggregates various billers through a secured connection to the bank, to avail its customers a single payment point for all bills from their accounts.

“In addition to FirstMobile and FirstBillsPayis FirstCheckOut. This is an additional payment option that can be integrated to merchant website that will allow customers pay bills directly from their bank accounts as a substitute to cards. We also have the 894 USSD Quick Banking service as part ofour financial inclusion drive. The *894# USSD service makes banking services available across all GSM networks, on any type of device, anywhere and at any time; this gives it a unique selling point,” explained Ezirim.

There are also the Emerging Channels (USSD Collections, mCash, MVISA). These platforms are to ensure FirstBank gets its customers connected in a seamless way in the digital driven age.

“Our FirstBank mVisa is an innovative mobile payment solution that allows consumers to pay for goods and services via FirstMobile by scanning a QR code using a smart phone or by dialing a USSD number on a phone. Payment goes directly from the consumer’s account into the merchant’s account and both parties get real-time notification.  The USSD Collections allow merchants to receive payments from customers simply by using 894 USSD string for FirstBank customers. The focus segments for USSD Collections are Manufacturing/FMCGs/ Value Chain Businesses, Petrol Stations, Network Marketing Companies, Transporting Companies, Churches, Schools and others,” says Ezirim.

Furthermore, FirstBank Agent banking was launched towards the end of 2017. The bank recruited Firstmonie Agents and empowered them to carry out basic financial services within their vicinity.  Firstmonie Agents are literally human extensions of almost all the banking activities, they are strategically positioned within communities with large population of unbanked and underbanked individuals. With the large network of Firstmonie Agents spread across the length and breadth of the country, financial inclusion is significantly promoted by FirstBank.

Now, the new kid on the block for FirstBank is the chat banking on WhatsApp. With this, FirstBank’s customers can leverage on the real-time messaging capabilities of the WhatsApp Business solution to check their account balances as well as perform simple banking queries.

“Customers’ expectations are constantly changing and it’s our duty as a customer focused bank to ensure that our customers are provided with the means to carry out banking services through any channel they desire,” says Ezirim. “We are constantly seeking new ways and opportunities to meet customers at their preferred touch points and we understand our customers are actively engaged on WhatsApp.”

With FirstBank chatbanking on WhatsApp, it is not just about staying connected with friends and loved ones, but also keeping in touch with FirstBank anytime and anywhere you are.

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UBA Hinges Future Performance on Cost Efficiency, Improved Asset Quality

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Pan African financial institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc has assured its local and international investors that it’s prudent focus on improved asset quality as well as the continuous adoption of strict cost efficient measures will help the bank achieve its objectives and priorities for the 2019 financial year and beyond.

This the bank has said will culminate into an institution with even stronger indices laced  with the capacity to churn out strong double-digit growth in annuity-based trade services, enhanced offerings and improved customer service.

Already, the bank has instituted a number of enhanced risk management and control framework which have in no small measure contributed to its financial performances and overall balance sheet growth over the years.

The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, who noted this in a submission while presenting the bank’s 2018 full year results during an international investor/ analysts conference call on Thursday, explained that UBA’s well diversified asset book supported by stable funding structure, placed it in a premium position to perform remarkably despite the falling economic indices in its operating environment.

He said, “In spite of slow recovery in economic activities in Nigeria (our single largest market), the Group’s total assets has grown by 19.7%, driven largely by a strong deposit growth of 23%, as the drive for retail deposits continue to yield desired results. Leveraging on enhanced customer service, the Group grew retail deposits by 48%, thus strengthening the funding base and providing the foundation for lower cost of funds in 2019.

“Notably, the growth in balance sheet also partly reflects the impact of exchange rate difference between the reporting dates (2017: N331/USD vs. 2018: N359/USD), as 37% of loans and 27% of overall balance sheet is FCY-denominated. The Group maintained its appetite for a well-diversified balance sheet, with over 60% in liquid, low risk instruments.”

Uzoka explained to the investors that the bank recorded impressive growths achieved across major financial lines, recording a 48 percent year-on-year growth in retail deposits and improved CASA ratio to 77 percent.

In its results for the year end December 2018, UBA gross earnings grew by 7.0 percent to N494.0 billion, compared to N461.6 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2017. The Bank’s total assets also grew significantly by 19.7 percent to an unprecedented N4.9 trillion for the year under review

Throwing more light on the financials, he stated that gross earnings grew by 7% year-on-year, despite regulation and market conditions undermined the non-interest income line. Interest income, which contributed 73% of gross earnings, grew by 11%, driven by strong interest income on treasuries, reflecting the low-risk appetite and treasury-led strategy adopted during the year. He noted that the lower non-interest income was occasioned by market condition and regulatory impact on FX trading income, adding that growing volume on FX trading is compensating for lower margin on this business, thus reinforcing our positive growth expectation on this income line in 2019.

While speaking on the strength of the financial institution in the coming years, especially on the back of it’s African and non-African subsidiaries, Uzoka said the bank’s recent foray into key markets and economies remain a milestone that will catapult the institution in the coming years.

He said, “UBA is a unique pan-African franchise with diversified risk and earnings across fast growing African economies with sound governance, risk management and compliance culture which can be seen from our adherence to international best practice. Our robust digital banking platform through which we are leveraging technology to serve over 15 million customers in a cost efficient approach that has helped to deepen African banking penetration.

“We have the strong financial capacity backed by high capitalization (BASEL II capital ratio well above requirement) and strong liquidity, and we have worked hard towards connecting Africa and the world through our presence in key African markets and major global financial centres such as New York, London and Paris.”

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Shareholders laud Transcorp Hotels Plc for Impressive performance, approve 15k per share as dividend

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The Shareholders of Africa’s leading hospitality brand, Transcorp Hotels Plc, have extolled the Company for its impressive financial results for the year ended December 31, 2018. The congratulatory remarks were made at the Company’s 5th Annual General Meeting, which took place at the Congress Hall of the iconic Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.

Following the company’s 26% increase in turnover, the Shareholders have unanimously endorsed a final dividend of ₦1.14bn for the 2018 financial year.  The final dividend translated to 15kobo per ordinary share, which is a 20% improvement over the 12kobo per ordinary share for 2017.

Speaking on the Company’s growth milestones, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Mr. Emmanuel N. Nnorom said “Transcorp Hotels Plc has exceeded the bar with an impressive turnover of ₦17.4billion from ₦13.8billion recorded in 2017, representing an improvement of 26%. This is an unprecedented achievement in the history of the Company. It is a further demonstration of our ability to adapt quickly to a changing business environment while keeping pace with global best standards in hospitality.”  The Chairman also thanked the Shareholders for their continued support and faith in the Board and Management of the Company.

Commending the company for its overall performance, Patrick Ajudua, President, New Dimension Shareholders Association said that Transcorp Hotels Plc is an embodiment of what privatisation in Nigeria should be. He further stated that good Corporate Governance and the presence of a focused Management team who are concerned with giving returns to shareholders are some underlying factors behind the company’s continued success.

The Managing Director/CEO, Mrs. Owen Omogiafo reiterated the company’s commitment to quality and global standard customer experience, drawing on the varied international awards conferred on the Company. She said “We are redefining the hospitality landscape in Africa and positioning our continent as a preferred destination for local and international tourists. Our numerous awards and recognition are proof of this.”

On the prospects for 2019, Mrs. Omogiafo noted that “Transcorp Hotels will continue to leverage on its unique value proposition and proven strategies to exceed 2018 performance.”  She further said that growth and efficiency underpinned by a strong culture of service excellence and cost optimization will drive the company.

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r-l: Chairman, Transcorp Hotels Plc, Mr. Emanuel Nnorom; Managing Director/CEO, Mrs Owen Omogiafo; and Executive Director, Ms Okaima Ohizua; at the 5th Annual General Meeting of the company held at Transcorp Hilton Hotels Abuja on Friday

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R-L: Executive Director, Transcorp Hotels Plc, Ms Okaima Ohizua; Managing Director/CEO, Mrs Owen Omogiafo; Chairman, Mr. Emanuel Nnorom; Company Secretary, Ms Helen Iwuchukwu; and Director/President of Transcorp Plc, Mr. Valentine Ozigbo, at the 5th Annual General Meeting of the company held at Transcorp Hilton Hotels Abuja on Friday

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r-l: Chairman, Transcorp Hotels Plc, Mr. Emanuel Nnorom; Managing Director/CEO, Mrs Owen Omogiafo; and Executive Director, Ms Okaima Ohizua; at the 5th Annual General Meeting of the company held at Transcorp Hilton Hotels Abuja on Friday

 

 

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FIRSTBANK MARCHES ON, BRINGS THE WORLD TO A STANDSTILL

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Nigeria’s Premier financial institution and iconic banking Brand, First Bank of Nigeria Limited had the world stand still on Friday, 1 March 2019, as it held its symbolic flag hoisting ceremony across Nigeria and other countries where it does business. The celebratory flag hoisting officially flags off the bank’s commemoration of attaining the milestone year of 125.

The event was also to reinforce the Bank’s continuous march to greatness; a march that exemplifies tenacity, doggedness, viability, socio-economic impact and commitment across the length and breadth of Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy.

The flag hoisting ceremony was held in honour of the Bank’s illustrious journey that started 125 years ago, a journey that encompasses more than half a dozen nations across Africa, Europe and Asia; notably Ghana, DR Congo, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, China, UK and France.

The distinctively designed anniversary flag comprised the Bank’s iconic logo – the elephant head in the yellow gold dynamic shape; the figure 125 written in The Dreamer Font with the number “5” chipped out of an elephant tusk; the weaving needle; the embroidered fabrics from different cultures – Yoruba Adire, Tiv Lishi, Ghana Kente, the Scottish kilt to illustrate the diversity of a brand that transcends beyond borders and across Continents.

In the course of the event, the symbolic flag was presented to the Oba of Lagos, his Royal Highness, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, in recognition of his traditional leadership of Lagos, the State where the journey began 125 years ago; the Chief of Naval Staff, represented by Rear Admiral Adebari, in recognition of the movement across the waters by the Bank’s founders from the United Kingdom; the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, Mr Adebisi Shonubi represented by Director of Banking Operations, Dipo Fatokun as the event is not just about FirstBank but to pride the industry as one that has impacted the Nation through a century and a quarter years and lastly, the Chief Executive Officer, the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Oscar N. Onyema, signifying the Bank as the oldest listed company.

In the welcome address delivered by the Bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, he noted that the flag symbolises the identity, impact, permanence and reverence of a long-standing institution which predates Nigeria as a unified entity and added that FirstBank is entrenched in the nation’s development; woven into the very fabric of society, with the Bank’s involvement in every stage of national growth and development.

Reinforcing the Bank’s Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, whilst forging ahead into the future, across its business location, Adeduntan said “Supporting our host communities to promote sustainable development and of course, putting You First, in all our business activities are some of the many secrets of our long existence. We are now building for the next 125 years and beyond; purposefully blazing the trail in our industry and ensuring that we maintain our leadership position.

Expressing his goodwill message to the Bank, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Oscar N. Onyema OON buttressed the Bank’s impact on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. He said “FirstBank is one of the very first companies to be listed on the Exchange and they have become a bellwether for us when you look at the Banking industry.

In addition Onyema identified the leadership role by the Bank in the NSE stating that “They have also produced a number of Presidents of the Council of the Exchange; from Oba Otudeko to Asabia and other captains of industry that FirstBank has offered to the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

Also speaking, Mr Adebisi Shonubi, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, represented by Director of banking operations, Dipo Fatokun lauded the bank for its achievement in the development of the financial sector and Nigeria as a whole.

Shonubi said that the history of the Central Bank of Nigeria cannot be written without the name of the Bank, FirstBank, lettered in gold, as the Bank has impacted the nation at large.

Other eminent personalities and dignitaries at the event include the former Managing Director of FirstBank and former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Joseph Sanusi; immediate past Managing Director of the Bank, Mr. Bisi Onasanya; Former Nigerian Minister of Industry and former President of the Lagos State Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Nike Akande and former Nigeria’s Minister of Communication Technology, Dr Omobola Johnson.

Horse guards parade by the Nigeria Police were at the venue to add to the glitz and glamour of the event as well the military band who were on ground to provide music throughout the event, thereby instilling the Bank’s resolve to foster its support to customers, Nigeria and other locations across Continents where the Bank operates.

The anniversary flag and flag of countries where the Bank does business were hoisted at the Bank’s headquarters to represent the nations, peoples and the diversity the Bank represents.

The 125 anniversary celebration will continue all through the month of March and through the year with other activities which include the Bell Ringing at the Nigerian Stock Exchange; a religious thanks-giving to be held in churches and mosques across Continents and locations of its business activities; the Anniversary Lecture; the Anniversary Gala Dinner & Command drama Performance by the famed Bola Austen Peters group among others. Staff and customers of the bank will also have the opportunity to participate in the milestone ceremony with donations and volunteering efforts as part of the bank’s Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability initiative, SPARK (Spreading Acts of Random Kindness)

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