By Aduragbemi Omiyale
For the second straight year, Ecobank Nigeria has won the Best Retail Bank in Nigeria award, beating other notable financial institutions in the country to reclaim the prize.
The award was issued by the Asian Banker at the Middle East and Africa Regional 2021 awards ceremony held recently in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Asian Banker Excellence in Retail Financial Services and Technology Innovation Award is acclaimed as the most rigorous, prestigious and transparent country level award programme for consumer financial services and technology in Middle East & Africa.
The awards committee assesses banks and non-banks in Middle East & Africa on a product and business level through a comprehensive evaluation process based on criteria and scorecards on world-class standards of what the retail banking proposition and technology proposition should be.
The Managing Director, Regional Executive, Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Patrick Akinwuntan, while commenting on the award, stated that, “The fact that the bank is winning this award for the second time shows that we have come to stay in terms of delivering world-class and diverse financial services in Nigeria and to a greater number of Africans across the continent.
“We understand their needs, forecast opportunities in the market and making our digital platforms available to be leveraged to achieve the highest potentials.
“Ecobank’s platform is unique for all types of retail transactions, especially account opening, bills payment, airtime purchase and third party transfers.
“We have ATMs spread across the country while our agency network reaches every community in order to provide basic financial services and support for every Nigerian. We have built an ecosystem that brings affordable financial services – payments and collections to every African.”
Mr Akinwuntan reiterated that the award is worthy recognition of Ecobank’s digital transformation landmark initiatives whereby “we can make payments into more accounts and wallets than any other bank in Africa.”
He also commended the Asian Banker Awards’ Team for creating an opportunity to celebrate innovative ideas by members of the banking community, assuring that Ecobank will continue to deploy its robust digital platforms and enhance customer experience at every touchpoint.
On his part, the Chairman of The Asian Banker, Mr Emmanuel Daniel, congratulated Ecobank and other winners of the prestigious awards in the various categories, stating that the process for selection was rigorous, transparent and conducted with the highest level of integrity.
Ecobank Nigeria Limited is a subsidiary of the Ecobank Group, the leading pan-African banking group with operations in 33 African countries and an international presence in four locations (London, Paris, Beijing, and Dubai).
The lender is a full-service bank providing wholesale, retail, investment and transaction banking services and products to governments, financial institutions, multinationals, international organizations, medium, small, and micro businesses, and individuals.
Ecobank is a major player in the distribution of financial services in Nigeria, leveraging digital platforms including Ecobank Mobile App and USSD *326#, Ecobank Online, Ecobank OmniPlus, Ecobank Omnilite, EcobankPay, Ecobank RapidTransfer, ATMs, POSs and an extensive distribution network of over 250 branches and about 30,000 agency banking locations.
Akinwuntan Seeks More Stable Environment for Improved Production
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Managing Director/Regional Executive of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Patrick Akinwuntan, has called for a more stable environment so as to quicken Nigeria’s economic recovery through improved production.
He said Nigeria has the capacity to become a major player in global trade because of its huge resources, which could be harnessed for greatness.
Speaking on the sideline of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) 56th Annual Bankers Dinner in Lagos last weekend, Mr Akinwuntan said Ecobank is well-positioned to support the various productive sectors of the economy to make a greater impact in the country.
He disclosed that the bank will continue to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and take banking to every Nigerian through its agency banking network.
According to him, the financial institution’s digital services will also support industries that focus on exports such as agriculture and manufacturing in 2022.
“We are a huge player in AfCFTA to assist in making Nigerian entrepreneurs become Pan African multinationals. As Nigerians, we must tell our story; Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa and as of today, Africa provides the best investment opportunities globally, we should turn our concerns into opportunities.
“As the country increases its exports, it will improve foreign exchange earnings, widen employment base, further support industries and a more stable Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” he advised.
Mr Akinwuntan noted that insecurity in the country must also be addressed for a more stable environment, stating that steady growth of employable youths was critical for Nigeria’s economy to improve its production level.
According to him, there are over 40 million SMEs in the country, assuring that the banks will continue to support the productive sector and entrepreneurial young people and small businesses to make a greater impact on the nation’s economy.
We Have Done Well to Stabilise Nigerian Banking Sector—NDIC
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) says it has performed the duties of keeping the Nigerian banking sector stable since its inception about 32 years ago.
Chairman of the NDIC, Mrs Ronke Sokefun, disclosed that the agency has ensured that members of the public have a strong belief in the financial system in the country.
According to her, the NDIC, when necessary, provides financial assistance, technical assistance to Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), Microfinance Banks (MfBs) and Primary Mortgage Banks (PMBs).
She further said in addition, the insurer assists financial institutions with mergers and acquisition, purchase and assumptions, as well as the application of the bridge bank mechanisms.
“Besides deposit protection, prompt resolution of bank failure in Nigeria by the NDIC in its over 32 years of its existence has succeeded in steering the banking sector off systemic failure and collapse of public confidence, thus safeguarding the role of financial safety net,” Mrs Sokefun said on Thursday at the 2021 NDIC retreat for members of the House of Representatives Committee on Insurance and Actuarial Matters in Lagos.
The NDIC boss noted that, “It is only when all these options could not rescue a bank that it is allowed to go into liquidation.”
She said so far, a total of 467 DMBs, MfBs and PMBs have been completely liquidated or undergoing the process of complete liquidation.
“As of date, 49 DMBs, 367 MFBs and 51 PMBs are either completely liquidated or undergoing the process of complete liquidation by the NDIC, following the revocation of their operating licenses by the Central Bank of Nigeria,” Mrs Sokefun informed the lawmakers.
Otedola, Odukale First Bank Leadership Tussle Excites CBN
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has expressed satisfaction with the power tussle between Mr Femi Otedola and Mr Taiwo Hassan Odukale, over who owns the single largest shareholding in First Bank of Nigeria, also known as FGN Holdings Plc.
The duo recently became a news item over the issue after it was announced that Mr Otedola was now the single largest shareholder in the financial institution. The company later released a statement, stating that Mr Odukale was the largest shareholder.
On Tuesday, after the last Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting for 2021, the Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, while addressing reporters, said the development was a testament to the positive decisions taken by the apex bank to keep First Bank alive.
A few months ago, the CBN sacked the board of FBN Holdings and First Bank of Nigeria Limited, its flagship bank, over a leadership tussle.
It was after the news that Nigerians knew that the central bank had been providing funds to the company as an intervention in order not to make it collapse because of huge non-performing loans (NPLs) bedevilling the organisation.
Justifying its decision to provide funding support to the lender on Tuesday, Mr Emefiele said First Bank, as the oldest bank in Nigeria, was too big to fail.
According to him, “If anything happens to First Bank, it means something has happened to the Nigerian banking system. That is why we are taking advice on how to get the bank afoot seriously.”
He then declared that First Bank was too big to be owned by an individual, adding that the tussle was good because “six years ago, as I said, because of an aggressive build-up of NPLs, the share price of First Bank was about N2. We took it up. Then, everybody was running away from the shares of First Bank.
“We have cleaned the balance sheet now, people are seeing that the money-making machine, First Bank, is back on its feet. They are in the race for profitability. They are now competing for the shares of First Bank. As of the last time I checked over the weekend, the share price was more N11.
“Why should I quarrel about that? “I am happy to see that they are competing for the shares. Of course, we all know that First Bank is so large that no single person can own it. In running the banks, they should see themselves as representing others.”
The leadership tussle between the two billionaires seems to have been put to rest after the clarification made by the National Pension Commission (PenCom).
First Bank had earlier said Mr Hassan-Odukale controlled a 5.36 per cent cumulative equity stake in the company through direct and indirect shareholding, stating that it was more than the 5.07 per cent holding of Mr Otedola.
Mr Hassan-Odukale’s stake rose to 5.36 per cent because of the addition of the stake of Leadway Pensure Limited, which he also has an interest in.
But PenCom explained that the shares of FBN Holdings purchased by Leadway Pensure belonged to Retirement Savings Account (RSA) holders and not Mr Hassan-Odukale because the funds actually belonged to a pool of investors, who are mainly Nigerian workers.
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