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First Bank Begins Secure Banking Services on WhatsApp

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By Dipo Olowookere

In a bid to deepen financial inclusion in Nigeria, Clickatell has made it possible for First Bank to launch Chat Banking on WhatsApp.

With this development, the lender will unlock the opportunity for millions of new consumers to experience an improved way to initiate day-to-day secure banking activities and digital product purchases from within the chat application.

It will also enable First Bank customers to manage their banking needs within their WhatsApp chat with the same efficiency as USSD.

Customers can add First Bank’s published WhatsApp phone number or a direct link access the First Bank’s “Verified” profile to begin a secure Chat Banking session.

Clickatell Transact’s bank grade platform allows for banks around the world to develop and seamlessly deliver their unique customer experiences consistently across multiple channels.

The platform’s solutions allow banks to self-manage and instantly deploy changes to their offerings without the need for intensive professional services lowering turnaround times from weeks to minutes, reducing launch friction, development cycles and associated overheads. This launch with First Bank of Nigeria marks the third large scale deployment by Clickatell in the African market in the past month.

Clickatell has pioneered the Chat Banking innovation through WhatsApp with a high emphasis on security to make WhatsApp a risk-free and convenient business engagement channel for customers. Multiple layers of encryption and authentication ensure a safe, and hassle-free transactional experience.

First Bank of Nigeria will offer its’ customers a full suite of banking options that can be initiated through WhatsApp, including balance checks, transfers, payments in addition to a vast bouquet of digital products and services that can be purchased instantly. WhatsApp unlocks an opportunity for brands to offer their customers a more personal, intuitive and efficient way to engage with them on chat.

“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 initiate or carry out banking services through any channel they desire,” said Mr Chuma Ezirim, Group Head, E-Business, First Bank of Nigeria Limited. “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.”

Clickatell’s Transact Division is committed to providing solutions to social and economic problems, through FinTech innovation. Clickatell’s goal is to provide consumers with efficiency, a pinnacle of customer experience and better value. In countries like Nigeria, where cash is currently the preferred method of transacting, Clickatell’s solutions resolves critical issues around ease of access, safety, security and consistent availability of essential products and services.

“We are very excited to be working with the team from First Bank of Nigeria who, in record time, implemented a complex user experience, soft launched and managed to improve on the already exceptional services that First Bank offers its customers. As a technology provider, Clickatell drives to delight both clients and their end-users through low code deployments and innovative upgrades. This rapid time to market and iteration capability of our offerings helps acquire new customers for our clients” – Jeppe Dorff, Managing Director of Clickatell’s Transact Division.

By providing consumers with what they want, when they want it and integrating solutions where they engage and transact, Clickatell innovation like Chat Banking on WhatsApp paves the way forward for consumers to gain confidence and trust in digital transactions. Millions of consumers are getting onboarded with each new launch of Clickatell powered chat banking across the world, especially in Africa. Clickatell is diligently pursuing its goal of reaching all of Nigeria’s banked consumers. With its’ success in Nigeria, Clickatell has taken a definitive step in the right direction for greater financial inclusion, both in Africa and around the globe.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Banking

Akinwuntan Seeks More Stable Environment for Improved Production

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Ecobank Akinwuntan More Stable Environment

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.

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Banking

We Have Done Well to Stabilise Nigerian Banking Sector—NDIC

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Nigerian Banking Sector

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.

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Banking

Otedola, Odukale First Bank Leadership Tussle Excites CBN

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First Bank Leadership Tussle

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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