Tier two lender, Sterling Bank set twitter abuzz last weekend with what social media termed the #bankwars. It all started with a seemingly innocuous tweet which read “Shoot for the moon, become a star – it’s the least you deserve.”

An accompanying graphic made references to several banks in the industry and seeminly threw shade at them.

Though the bank pulled the tweet following a warning from the CBN (due to what the apex bank termed demarketing) and could end up being fined, the stunt appears to have worked. Several consumers have signified interest in opening an account with the bank and engagement on its twitter handle has shot up.

David vs the Goliaths?

The banking industry in Nigeria is a highly competitive one.  Tier one banks FBN Holdings, UBA Plc, GTBank , Access Bank and Zenith (collectively known as FUGAZ) dominate the industry in terms of capitalisation assets, and deposits. Tier two banks like Sterling, the struggle to get new customers is harder because they have a much smaller branch spread and marketing budget.

Nigeria’s tier one banks FBN Holdings, UBA Plc, Access Bank and Zenith Bank spent a total of ₦35.7 billion on advertising for the financial year ended December 31st, 2017.

Sterling Bank, on the other hand, spent N1 billion on adverts and promotion in the 2017 financial year.

Sweet spot

The younger generation is caught up in an avalanche of social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat. Attention span has also dropped so adverts and messages have to be straight to the point. Sterling Bank may have found its niche in twitter.

Sterling Bank closed at N1.45 in yesterday’s trading session on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). Year to date the stock is up 34.3%.

Results for the first quarter ended March 2018 show interest income increased from N25.3 billion in 2017 to N31.8 billion in 2018. Profit before tax increased from N2 billion in 2017 to N3.1 billion in 2018. Profit after tax surged from N1.8 billion in 2017 to N3.1 billion in 2018.

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