The MD/CEO of First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan has said that the bank’s agents processed over 1.16 billion transactions valued at N26.52 trillion as of November 2022.
Adeduntan disclosed this in an interview with ThisDay while reviewing the performance of the global economy in 2022.
During the period under review, he said the bank had over 196,000 Firstmonie agents spread across 772 local government areas in Nigeria.
He also disclosed that about 45 per cent of the Firstmonie agent networks are in rural areas, 18 per cent in semi-urban areas while 37 per cent are in the urban areas, all carrying out transactions beyond withdrawing and depositing money.
“Beyond cash-in-cash-out (CICO) transactions, these agents also render other services such as account opening, airtime purchase, bill payment, government-revenue collection, transfer and disbursement, mobile-money (wallet creations, deposits, withdrawals), bank verification number (BVN) enrollment and other non-bank ecosystem value-added support services, in line with CBN’s guideline for mobile money and agent banking businesses.”
He said the services have helped to deepen financial inclusion espoused by the CBN.
“As the foremost financial institution in Nigeria, FirstBank has always collaborated with the CBN and the Nigerian government to push several national initiatives, particularly as it relates to the financial services industry.
“Specifically, FirstBank’s Firstmonie Agent Network is fully aligned with improving financial inclusion in Nigeria. With over 196,000 agents spread across 772 local government areas in Nigeria and many of the agents operating from 512 local government areas without a FirstBank branch, the bank has been a clear partner to the CBN in improving financial inclusion in the country.
“First Bank’s USSD (*894#) product, which is demographically positioned for the unbanked, has over 14 million users with more than 261 million unique transactions, worth over N1.1 trillion processed on the platform.
“First Bank has been at the forefront of increasing financial inclusion in Nigeria and will continue to play its part until every adult in Nigeria is adequately banked,” Adeduntan stated. Speaking on the trends that shaped the banking sector in 2022, Adeduntan described the year as “quite eventful” and classified them as financial, technological, customer and employee.
He said the financial trends witnessed the increase in the monetary policy rate and the cash reserve ratio, cumulatively, by 500 basis points to 16.5 per cent and 32.5 per cent, respectively as a way of enforcing liquidity tightening measures to curb rising inflation.
The technological trends, he said, witnessed an increase in technological innovations, as the industry strived to meet the ever-evolving customer needs.
“First Bank was at the forefront of the technological trend, as we successfully launched a digital experience centre, a fully automated branch to meet our customer needs, while providing a unique and wholesome experience.
“First Bank also launched robotics process automation initiative, FirstRobotics, that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to handle high volume transactions,” he added.
As regard the customer trends, Adeduntan said “2022 witnessed an increasing shift in emphasis from consumer banking to lifestyle banking in a bid to capture more of the customers’ journey.”
He said the shift “has been hugely supported by technology as customer trends can now be easily identified, and new product offerings developed to meet customer needs.”
On employee trends he said the banking industry, probably like any other industry in Nigeria, “has seen significant attrition in the number of employees due to increased relocation to other countries (popularly known as japa) in 2022.
“This has impacted the industry’s skill base and execution capabilities especially in critical areas of the industry.”