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UBA: A Bank Of Many Firsts, In Pursuit Of Customer Satisfaction

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United Bank for Africa Plc has carved a niche for itself and continues to stand out as the leading Pan-African financial institution, consistent in introducing numerous first-rate innovative products with customer satisfaction in mind.

To this end, the bank has invested significantly in cutting-edge technology in a bid to boost its overall services to customers. The development is a further demonstration of the bank’s unalloyed commitment to ensuring premium services as well as reaffirming its dominance across Africa.

In a bid to reinforce its commitment to first-rate experience, the lender introduced Leo the Chat Banker in 2018 and did not rest on its oars as it innovated with more firsts launching on Facebook, in 2019 and on WhatsApp, following which it created Leo Apple Business Chat’ for Ios on iPhone and iPad. A feat its peers are yet to replicate, even though some banks like Diamond Bank now merged with Access Bank tried with Ada and StanbicIBTC Bank’ Sami. First Bank and GTBank also launched on WhatsApp. They were all unable to replicate the success story of UBA’s Leo.

Recently, UBA has again raised the bar, with another first of its kind, that is currently setting the pace in the digital banking space. The New UBA mobile App, launched in March is a one-stop-shop for all banking transactions like never seen before on the African continent and is already a massive success with customers who have embraced the app wholeheartedly with more than 200,000  downloads since its launch in March. A testament to the excellent unique offerings imbued in the new mobile app.

The new app, which is a total upgrade from the former app, has new features including four amazing themes and a more amazing graphical interface, just as it has another never-been-seen before feature where it blurs your account balance when you cover your phone’s sensor.

Armed with benefits and features designed to give its customers increased control and accessibility to carry out transactions with ease, UBA Digital Banking Group Head, Kayode Ishola, said the app has been tailor-made to give customers what they want, how and in the way they want it. He made this disclosure during a recent virtual press parlay with both local and international media, adding that a lot of investment in cutting-edge technology and attention to details was put into the new mobile app.

According to him, the new UBA Mobile App is “your personal finance manager built with a distinctive user interface that will change the face of banking. “With this app, we are reimagining banking as our engagement has moved from being channel-based to being platform-based.

“The speed of the platform has been made to match the speed of light as we have cut down significantly on the number of processes expected to carry out your transactions. Interestingly, we have worked towards creating behavioral insight for our customers and working around this to address the real needs of our customers using the Omnichannel platform and running on our open digital platform, which is very interactive and armed with lifestyle services. It is sleek and trendy with a seamless user interface”, he added.

On the security features of the app, UBA’s Group Chief Information Officer, Onyebuchi Akosa, said the new platform will revolutionize the way banking services are offered as it will deliver increased personalized banking via a watertight and highly effective security system.

He said: “The new app has also been built with the best-in-purchase security features and has been modelled appropriately to ensure that all the features are working properly to secure transactions maximally. It is also important to mention that the bank took into consideration the virtually impaired, and thus has used voice recognition as a channel for the transaction which suits both convenience and the visually impaired customers.”

Head, UBA SME Banking, Sampson Aneke, on his part noted that the app has been created with a high level of intelligence because it can work based on frequent transactions.

He added that “it can also speak to the specific country where it is being used as the new mobile app runs concurrently in the 20 countries of UBA’s operation interacting in the different languages and cultures in line with the specific needs and regulation of the country in focus. This all-encompassing platform which boasts of a new user interface because of its sleek, modern nature of delivering a seamless experience across several devices; can be used as a budgeting tool, loan application and also allows customers to view their expenses according to their various categories such as the amount spent on data within a particular period.”

Beyond lip service, the bank, which is known for its culture of excellent service, has continuously innovated all of its business segments, whilst delivering top-notch operational efficiencies and best-in-class customer service. Over the years, the reward for creating such superior value has come in form of customer satisfaction and numerous local and international awards, thus consolidating their leadership position in Africa. For the bank, those awards are evidence of the diligent execution of its strategic initiatives geared towards customer service fulfillment.

Social Impact

Beyond the multiple zeros that are the underlying goal of every financial institution, UBA is also big on social impacts and customer satisfaction, the latter being a requisite for a rewarding year for the bank. Through its UBA Foundation, its CSR arm that is committed to being a socially responsible company and role model for all businesses in Africa, the foundation is committed to the socio-economic betterment of the communities in which the bank operates, focusing on development in the areas of education, environment, economic empowerment, and special projects. The UBA Foundation was incorporated in January 2004.

The bank performs all these social functions while maintaining a sound pedigree as an institution that helps millions across the continent meet their financial goals. In fact, as one of the oldest surviving financial institutions in Nigeria, UBA holds a distinctive position as a general wealth distributor, which makes its financial performance more profound and impactful.

With about 274,000 shareholders, about 72 percent holding between one and 10,000 ordinary shares, UBA has the most diversified shareholders’ base. It is also one of the most actively traded stocks at the Nigerian stock market and a major influence in the traditionally most active banking sector. A total of 6.95 billion ordinary shares of UBA were traded at the stock market in 2020 while the bank’s share price rose by 21 percent, more than double the average return of 10.1 percent recorded by the NSE Banking Index.

With more than 21 million customers and 1,000 business offices and customer touchpoints in 20 African countries, UBA is a systemically important, tier-one financial institution. Despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the group remained a major developmental partner for its host communities, environment, and the economy as it donated N5.10 billion to various corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives during the year, through its foundation.

Impressive Performance

Despite the challenges the year brought including the COVID-19 pandemic, the bank’s performance stood out while the deposit base increased by 48.1 percent, the bank’s profit before tax rose to N131.9 billion compared with N111.3 billion in 2019; profit after tax rose by 27.7 percent to N113.8 billion compared with N89.1 billion in 2019 and earnings per share thus rose by 26.8 percent from N2.52 in 2019 to N3.20 in 2020.

A further breakdown showed that the total assets last year leapt two spaces to N7.70 trillions from N5.62 trillion in 2019, about a 37 percent increase. The balance sheet performance is reflective of the overall performance outlook for the pan-African banking group. Market pundits are placing a “buy” note on UBA on the heels of the 2020 performance. UBA has the highest upside potential among the five stocks recommended by Cowry Asset Management Limited as the stock market reopened.

The 12-month report showed that gross earnings rose by 10.8 percent to N620.4 billion in 2020 compared with N559.8 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2019. The overall top-line performance was driven by growths across the income lines. Interest incomes had grown from N404.83 billion in 2019 to N427.86 billion in 2020.

Net interest income stood at N259.47 billion in 2020 as against N221.88 billion in 2019, fees and commission incomes also rose from N110.56 billion in in 2019 to N126.94 billion in 2020 while net trading and foreign exchange income increased from N37.63 billion to N59.45 billion. Further segmented analysis showed the continuing growth and profitability of the group’s non-Nigerian subsidiaries, providing diversification that helped to cushion and insulate the group from market fluctuation.

Meanwhile, the “Rest of Africa”-other African subsidiaries excluding the main Nigerian market, saw turnover growth from N166.27 billion in 2019 to N232.06 billion in 2020, repeating the same trend in pre-tax profit, which rose from N52.15 billion to N75.12 billion. The group also recorded increased incomes and profit across its business lines with corporate banking, retail, and commercial banking, and treasury and financial markets recording N201.02 billion, N214.39 billion, and N204.96 billion respectively in 2020 as against N181.4 billion, N193.46 billion, and N184.95 billion respectively in 2019.

The businesses also sustained improved profit. Corporate banking netted N62.32 billion in 2020 as against N47.9 billion in 2019. Retail and commercial banking recorded a net profit of N30.23 billion as against N24.36 billion while net profit on treasury and financial marker dealings improved from N16.23 billion in 2019 to N21.22 billion in 2020.

On the cost side, operating expenses grew by 10.1 percent to N249.8 billion, as against N217.2 billion in 2019, well below the average inflation rate of 13.2 percent for the year, thus reflecting the bank’s cost-effectiveness. Despite the challenging business environment during the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant effect on economies globally, the bank’s profit before tax rose to N131.9 billion compared with N111.3 billion in 2019. Profit after tax rose by 27.7 percent to N113.8 billion compared with N89.1 billion in 2019. Earnings per share thus rose by 26.8 percent from N2.52 in 2019 to N3.20 in 2020.

The balance sheet also showed that UBA recorded a remarkable 24 percent growth in loans to customers at to N2.6 trillion while customer deposits increased by 48.1 percent to N5.7 trillion, compared with N3.8 trillion recorded in the corresponding period of 2019, reflecting increased customer confidence, enhanced customer experience, successes from the ongoing business transformation programme and the further deepening of its retail banking franchise. While the paid-up capital remained unchanged at N17.1 billion, total equity funds rose from N597.98 billion in 2019 to N724.15 billion in 2020, driven mainly by an increase in retained earnings and other reserves.

Management Outlook

Re-echoing the stance of analysts on the strong performance of the bank despite the global pandemic, UBA Group Managing Director, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka said last year was important for the UBA Group, as it gained further market share in most of its countries of operation.

According to him, the bank ended a very challenging year on a reassuring note as shown by double-digit growth in both top and bottom lines. Despite the tumultuous impact of the pandemic globally and across UBA’s 23 countries of operation, the group created N519 billion additional loans as it continued to support customers and their businesses.

He outlined that customer deposits grew 48.1 percent to N5.7 trillion, driven primarily by an additional N1.8 trillion in retail deposits, assuring that as a global bank, UBA remains well-capitalized and determined to successfully drive financial inclusion on the continent through innovative products and vast network.

He pointed out that the bank’s capital adequacy and liquidity ratios came in at 22.4 percent and 44.3 percent were well above the respective regulatory minimum of 15.0 percent and 30 percent.

“Our primary strategy will continue to focus on providing excellent services from our customers’ standpoint, putting the customer first always. Looking ahead, I am inspired by the achievements we have made since the launch of our transformation programme. We have expanded market share considerably across the geographies where we operate and are consolidating our digital banking leadership in Africa. We will continue to leverage our diversified business model and dedicated workforce to further strengthen our position as ‘Africa’s Global Bank,” Uzoka said.

Group Chief Financial Official, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Ugo Nwaghodoh said the persistently low-interest-rate environment in 2020 exerted significant downward pressure on margins, notwithstanding, the bank’s interest income for the year grew by 5.7 percent to N427.9 billion, driven by 8.2 percent and 7.5 percent year-on-year growth on interest income on loans and investment securities respectively.

Essentially, the 2020 performance no doubt shows the resilience of the uniquely diversified operating model of the UBA and brings to bear the gains from continuing investments in its pan-African outlook. Analysts are optimistic the group will sustain its growth trajectory, given expected improvements in national and global environments in 2021.

BIG STORY

Unity Bank Targets Women; Launches Yanga Account

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In its bid to demonstrate increased commitment towards promoting financial inclusion and women empowerment, Nigeria’s retail lender, Unity Bank Plc has launched Yanga Account, a new retail product designed to deepen beneficial impact on Micro Small, and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs operated by women in the mass market retail space.

As a product targeted to boost the Nigerian women entrepreneurs, the initiative was intended to create Yanga Experience, from promoting the business, capacity building to health insurance scheme for Yanga Account holders.

A statement by the Bank said that the benefits for signing up to Yanga Account are summed up as ‘The Yanga Experience’. This means that as we target every woman in the mass-market retail space, the Yanga account holders will enjoy many benefits including stress-free savings and investment, access to the services of dedicated Sales Agents, Agency Banking services close to the location of their businesses, special business seminar and training on how to grow business, access to microloans, customized debit cards and other bundled e-banking products.

Speaking at the launch of the product in Abuja on Tuesday, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Unity Bank Plc, Mrs. Tomi Somefun stated the “Yanga Account is being launched as a bold attempt to directly cater to women and their respective businesses.”

The Unity Bank Boss, therefore, asserted that the Account “is open to all market women in farming, fashion design, tailoring, frozen food, pastry and baking, cosmetics, jewelry designs and making, skincare, eateries, and restaurants, etc. whether living in the communities or cities.”

“Yanga Account is conceived and designed for the financial literacy and empowerment of Nigerian women. It is about making sure that our women who make up 55% of the financially excluded Nigerians have access to basic and life-changing financial services.”

Recent research by Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA) has shown that “Women need economic opportunities if countries are to realize the full potential of their human capital. Financial inclusion can benefit individuals, families, and businesses, supporting key outcomes such as GDP growth”.

Speaking further, Somefun said: “The Yanga account will also be incorporating an affordable Health insurance scheme not only as a part of the product bouquet underpinning the Bank’s belief in health and wellness which translate to wealth creation but also to drive insurance penetration which is presently at 2% in Nigeria. We, therefore, believe that this will provide essential ingredients to growing a business as well as adding greater value for Yanga account holders.

“At Unity Bank, through products like Yanga Account, we continue to align with the vision of the Central Bank of Nigerian and the financial services ecosystem to provide needed support for Nigerian women by enhancing access to wealth-creating opportunities in the financial services sector”.

Also, speaking, Group Head, Retail, SME Banking and E-Business, Unity Bank Plc, Mr. Funwa Akinmade said: “the official launch of the Yanga Account is an extremely important step for us as a Bank because it is one step that brings our services closer to Nigerian women as Unity Bank makes the efforts to further expand its retail footprints in the market.

“At Unity Bank Plc, we have devoted the past few years to constantly innovating with banking solutions to enable us to drive more financial inclusiveness in different market segments, but the Yanga Account is introduced as a bold attempt to directly cater to women and their respective businesses.

“Unity Yanga is a well-packaged banking product that combines several services that most small businesses owned by women will need to become profitable. We are optimistic that Nigerian women will embrace the Yanga Account and leverage its full benefits to grow their businesses.”

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GTCO Stages Music Concert In Ghana

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From the curators of the GTBank Fashion Weekend and GTBank Food and Drink Festival–two of Africa’s most celebrated showpiece events–comes the biggest corporate event of the year.

This inaugural event will hold in the main bowl of the Accra Sports Stadium on Friday, 17 December 2021, and will feature performances from some of Africa’s brightest breakout stars of both Ghanaian and Nigerian origin.

The GTCO Music Concert is a community engagement event designed to spotlight the best of African entertainment to a global audience whilst promoting wider acceptance of our individuality as well as a shared character as vibrant and energetic people. It explores the joys of music and celebrates the beauty in diversity, a common heritage, and our collective aspirations. Authentic sounds, resounding afro-beats, and pulsating rhythm will be enjoyed by the effervescent concert crowd and live-streamed to millions worldwide!

At GTCO Plc, we recognize the potential for boundless creativity within the African continent and look to harness its industry towards creating a more connected, prosperous future for all. The GTCO Music Concert combines our strong zest for life and unparalleled dynamism to create a great experience that goes beyond banking.

Guaranty Trust Holding Company is a leading financial services company providing banking and non-banking services across eleven countries spanning West Africa, East Africa, and the United Kingdom. The Group operates a diversified, proudly African franchise and is renowned for its innovative approach to customer service and stakeholder engagement.

If there is one event on your calendar this festive season, it has to be the GTCO Music Concert!

All Covid-19 protocols will be observed at this event.

ATTENDANCE IS FREE

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Firstbank Celebrates Youth Week 2021

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From showcasing talents to the art of fashion design, identifying youths in the food business, and lots more, Nigeria’s leading financial services providers, First Bank of Nigeria Limited has reiterated its commitment to Youth Empowerment and Entrepreneurship through the celebration of its ongoing 2021 Youth Week.

The Youth Week, themed “The Future is Now, Let’s Takeover” started on Monday, 8 November 2021. The event comprises a variety of activities, including Youth-themed Future Forward activities, [email protected] Creative Artistry Empowerment Workshop, Grooming and Wellness Workshops, Digital Engagements, Virtual Mini Concert, and many more. Each activity is associated with various gift items, including gift vouchers and cash prizes.

During the celebration of the FirstBank Youth Week 2021, youths will get rewarded for their talents by following this process – Do a recording showcasing your singing prowess in a video (1 minute or less), Upload your video on Instagram, be sure to follow @firstbanknigeria on IG, then Tag 5 friends to follow the bank with the hashtags #YouthVoices #FirstBank #YouthWeek. The top 5 videos with the highest likes will be posted on FirstBank page and the top 3 videos with the highest likes would win the competition. In addition, Millennials and Gen Zs will upload videos detailing their FirstBank experience on Yammer. The videos with the most votes will win the 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes respectively.

The Bank will also provide an avenue for the youth to be empowered in Artistry Workshop Sessions & Arts Classes. A call for interested candidates in the art of fashion design and illustrations will be done. Entries will be received from candidates who are told to submit their illustration creatives and 10 Youths will be empowered to learn the business of illustrations at Claire Idera Studio.

Also included is the Food Grill & Fest, a platform the FirstBank uses to give opportunities to youths in the Food business. Youths in the food business will be allowed to submit their entries to the vendors at Grill & Fest 2021.

Food-related questions will be asked on the Bank’s verified social media platforms and the first 5 people to get the questions right will win vouchers. The Wellness and Grooming 101 event will provide an avenue for youths to be empowered in the grooming and wellness Masterclass. Interested youths will show their interest to upskill in areas of beauty, grooming, and wellness.

Speaking on the Youth week celebration, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer of FirstBank said ‘’we remain committed to recognizing the enormous opportunities that can empower the Nigerian youth. Over the years, we have seen our youth benefit from actively engaging in our programmes where they develop effective leadership skills and gain a stronger connection to their community. Young people are our future and we are always ready to support and help harness their skills as with these, we put them at an advantage in securing their future as they contribute to national development.

At FirstBank, with about 57% of the entire workforce being millennials and ‘Gen Zs’, the Youth segment has been and will continue to be the prime focus. Therefore, the Youth Week presents a unique platform to strengthen the Banks commitment to the younger population, who have become the powerhouse driving all facets of digitization and innovation in our world today’’.

Since 1999, Nigeria has continued to join the international community to observe the Day in commemoration of the importance of youth’s participation in politics, economic and social activities towards sustainable development of the nation. Nigeria has one of the highest populations of youth in the world, with about half of the estimated 200 million of the country’s total population being under the age of 19 and 62%, below the age of 24.

For more information and participation in the Youth Week, kindly visit the bank’s verified social media platforms; Instagram: @firstbanknigeria, Facebook: First Bank of Nigeria Limited.

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