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FirstBank: Redefining Customers’ Banking Experience Through Innovation

Dr Adesola Adeduntan, CEO, FirstBank Group

As the premier financial institution in Nigeria with a rich and successful history spanning over 130 years, FirstBank remains the leading stakeholder that has partnered with the Nigerian government and people to advance financial inclusion in the country. With FirstBank’s extensive digital and physical footprints across the length and breadth of Nigeria, no other player comes close in bringing financial services access and opportunities nearer to the Nigerian people, irrespective of their segment, location, and economic status.

In line with the Bank’s mission to “provide the best financial services possible”, FirstBank has always sought innovative ways of extending and deepening financial access and making banking more seamless and convenient for the citizenry. In this regard, FirstBank was the first to introduce the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) into the Nigerian market in 1991 and continues to adopt cutting-edge technologies in delivering financial services.

FirstBank has been successful in leveraging innovative technologies to deliver financial services along three main routes – digital banking, mobile wallet, and agent banking.

The Bank’s core digital banking platforms (FirstMobile and FirstOnline), with over 7 million users, offer customers the opportunity to conduct banking services right from the comfort of their homes and offices. Through the core digital banking platforms, customers can access loans, perform account maintenance activities, meet their lifestyle needs as well as carry out several other banking transactions without visiting the branch. The Bank’s Super App (Lit App) is also set to revolutionise the Nigerian financial services space upon full roll-out to the public.

FirstBank’s USSD (*894#) platform currently has over 15 million subscribers, allowing the not-too-tech-savvy customer segment to perform banking transactions at their fingertips by dialing unique strings of codes. The USSD channel is particularly suited to rural and semi-urban dwellers where internet penetration may not be as strong as in the urban areas. With this channel, semi-literate rural dwellers can send and receive money, purchase airtime, pay bills and even access micro-loans to meet urgent personal needs. FirstBank also offers mobile wallet product (Firstmonie) where customers’ telephone numbers serve as a wallet account, thus enabling them to have access to financial services. This product is particularly helpful to customers who might not be able to meet the minimum documentation requirements necessary to open a formal bank account but who possess a mobile telephone number.

FirstBank’s Agent Banking network is the undisputed largest bank-led network in Nigeria.  FirstBank’s Firstmonie agent network operates in 772 of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria, with more than 232,000 agents. At least 63% of the Bank’s Firstmonie Agents are in either rural areas or semi-urban areas where they play crucial roles in bringing financial services closer to the unbanked and under-served communities. Firstmonie network has cumulatively processed more than NGN33.26 trillion and circa 1.4 billion transactions since January 2018. The Firstmonie network offerings include account opening, cash deposit, cash withdrawal, 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. FirstBank’s Agent Banking network powers economic development in many communities throughout the country, creating more than one million direct jobs. The agents are also empowered to grow their business volumes via a credit facility (Agent Credit), digitally accessed to meet any intra-day cashflow shortages. Additionally, the Agent Banking network is incentivized to allow Agents earn an average of NGN85,000/month in bonus.

In 2021, FirstBank launched its first Digital Experience Centre (DXC), a fully automated interactive digital branch and the first of its kind in the Nigerian banking industry aimed to redefined customers’ banking experience by introducing them to a new world of digitised self-services. The DXC is digitised in every sense of the word with no tellers or human staff; it is fully equipped with digital screens, self-service terminals, card-issuance kiosks, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), humanoid robots, video banking and Artificial Intelligence and several other digital-led and assisted gadgets to ensure customers do not miss out on any service offered in the traditional branch.

As a pan-African bank with footprints in seven African markets, Europe and Asia, FirstBank remains committed to leading the charge in deepening financial inclusion in Africa by providing innovative products that leverage cutting-edge technology to make access to financial services easier and seamless, thereby creating better wealth opportunities and empowering more Africans to attain their full potential.

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