First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s leading financial services provider, remains resolute in its pursuit of magnifying the opportunities in Open Banking. This is further emphasized in the theme of the Bank’s upcoming 2021 edition of its annual FinTech Summit. The main purpose of this summit, over the years, is to converge thought leaders in the FinTech space to champion discourse around financial technology and proffer solutions that will shape the future of banking.
Being the 5th edition, the theme of this year’s summit is ‘’Open Banking and Its Derivative Opportunities for the Financial Ecosystem’’ and will be discussed by experts, key and leading players, policy influencers and regulatory officials in the Nigerian financial, banking and technological climate. This year’s theme elaborates the importance of collaboration in the ecosystem as Open banking in its very essence is a demand for transparency and control over personal and business finances and making financial data available to third parties from banks and non-bank financial institutions via application programming interfaces (APIs). Globally, open banking is still at its early stages, however, it is quite clear that there are huge potentials inherent in the industry if well tapped. FirstBank recognizes that innovators ought to double down on building products while other key stakeholders would do well to provide the requisite digital assets and conducive regulatory environment that will maximize its limitless possibilities.
As arguably Nigeria’s most valuable bank brand, FirstBank continues to pride itself as indeed the Bank of many firsts and so FirstBank is committed to supporting the budding fintech industry. This is exemplified through the FirstBank Digital Lab which serves as an innovative hub that bridges the gap between FirstBank’s heritage as a financial institution and working and collaborating with partners to further enhance the ecosystem. FirstBank has indeed realized that partnership with fintechs would help preserve their market share. And more importantly, give them a share of the financially excluded-cake which is the equivalent of 40 million Nigerians. This partnership is symbiotic; it also provides the much-needed support fintechs need to execute and scale.
With about 127 years of operations, 30 million plus customer accounts and 750 branches – coupled with over 130,000 Agent Banking locations – First Bank of Nigeria Limited is a shining example in leading the race in the transformation of Open banking opportunities in Nigeria and beyond. FirstBank has become the foremost financial inclusion solutions provider. Between FirstOnline and FirstMobile, a growth of 21 per cent in the user base was experienced in 2020. Customers on both platforms conducted approximately 256 million transactions worth N15.7 trillion in the same year. FirstOnline, as of June 2021, had an impressive 597,466 customers on the service, a 17 per cent growth on the previous year and 578,292 transactions per month, averaging a value of N388 billion per month.
For FirstMobile, besides the impressive gain in numbers, it gained recognition as “Best Mobile Banking App” at the Global Finance Best Digital Bank Awards, for providing excellent self-service through its user-friendly app. FirstMobile had, as of June 2021, 4,596,203 users on the platform, which is a nine per cent growth on the previous year and an average of 27,730,830 transactions every month.
Firstmonie, the agent banking network of FirstBank, currently has over 130,000 agents across the country, making it the largest bank-led agent network anywhere in Africa. As the foremost financial inclusion service in the country, it has achieved over 750 million transactions worth N15 trillion (about US$30 billion) processed from inception to date. FirstBank through the Firstmonie platform further supports the fintech industry via partnership collaborations with local and international fintechs.
FirstBank was also recognized as the 2nd bank in Africa and first in Nigeria to issue 10million cards, recognized by Interswitch as the first institution in Nigeria to achieve 100million sustained monthly transactions in electronic payment in December 2015 and May 2016. All these feats are geared towards expanding financial inclusion and providing a variety of services to customers of the bank with giant shoulders that customers and fintechs can stand on to see further.
Banks that get their open banking strategy right will establish credibility and a footprint in the data economy as a stepping stone for future relevance and new business models. As we know, FirstBank’s ultimate promise is to always deliver the ultimate ‘gold standard’ of value and excellence and will therefore stop at nothing to provide excellent and innovative financial services to customers while continuously engaging the developer community and investing in technology. Indeed, FirstBank remains a noble brand close to Fintechs and innovators and the deliberate efforts made by the bank has indeed been a catalyst of socio-economic growth of the Nigerian populace and the nation as a whole.