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Global Transactions Get Easier With Firstbank’s Card Offerings

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By EHIME ALEX

As in many developing countries, cash has been the most prevalent mode of payment in Nigeria until 2012 when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) introduced the cashless policy with the aim of promoting the use of electronic payment channels instead of cash.

Since then, banking services in Nigeria have shifted from physical and tangible distribution to technology-enabled, such as internet, automated teller machine (ATM), mobile phones, point of sale (POS) and mobile money channels.

African economies are also in support of driving cash out of the financial system and the introduction of digital payment solutions is in line with their cashless strategies.

It is also worthy of note that one of the prerequisites for the development of national economy is to encourage a payment system that is secure, convenient, and affordable. In this regard, developed countries of the world, to a large extent, have moved away from paper payment instruments toward electronic ones, especially payment cards.

Looking at data from the CBN official website on E-Payment transactions from 2012 to 2018, it is clear that there has been an exponential increase in the volume of transactions carried out through various channels.

For instance, the volume of ATM transactions carried out in 2012 was approximately at 375.5 million compared to 875.5 million recorded in 2018. Also, the volume of transactions recorded from the POS and Internet channels rose from 2.58 million to 295.89 million, and 2.27 million to 50.8 million in the review period respectively.

This suggests that, the e-payment channels, if well implemented will help achieve the CBN‘s objective of expanding, deepening and modernizing the payment system in Nigeria, and also galvanize the apex bank in ensuring that Nigeria ranks among the top 20 economies of the world in line with the nation‘s vision 2020 aspirations.

To this course, and in line with its pioneering strategy and focus at smartly improving payments infrastructures and greater usage of non-cash means in the country, First Bank of Nigeria Limited recently launched Visa Multi-Currency card, the first of its kind to be offered by any financial institution in the country.

This All-in One-Card has by all means added to the array of FirstBank’s card offerings: Naira MasterCard and Visa Gold card.

The FirstBank Naira MasterCard, a chip and PIN Debit Card, offers a convenient alternative to the use of cash, and cheques. It is a naira denominated card linked to customer’s current or savings account, and can be used to make purchases online, pay bills and access cash at ATMs point worldwide.

With it, cardholders go cashless, have zero need for Personal Travel Allowance (PTA) or Business Travel Allowance (BTA), and also have increased limits for international transactions up to $5000 monthly on all channels with a daily ATM cash withdrawal limit of $300.

While the FirstBank Visa Gold card, an international premium credit card, is a U.S. Dollar- denominated card, secured also by chip and PIN technology. Its higher daily spending limits on ATM, POS and Web are $1,000, $10,000 and $5,000 respectively, anywhere in the World.

However, in addressing challenges many Nigerians faced while travelling abroad, FirstBank has introduced the Visa Multi-Currency card with some unique features. Before now, the major pain points for travelers have been how to source different currencies with high and non-transparent exchange rates.

In today’s businesses where expectation is significantly increasing, consumers have to embrace innovative new technology made available, such as the FirstBank Visa Multi-Currency of card, for global transactions.

The newly launched FirstBank Visa Multi-Currency card is an enhancement to the existing Visa Debit Dual Currency card. Having other unique features, the card can be linked to either or all customer’s NAIRA, USD, EURO and GBP accounts. It is designed to enhance customer experience when transacting globally outside Nigeria, and to address challenges many Nigerians faced while travelling abroad thereby positioning the bank at meeting the needs of its increasingly global customer base.

Besides other benefits are POS and Online purchases, access to and use of ATMs worldwide, and no cash collateral requirement prior to its issuance.

It is an international card secured by Chip and PIN technology with a lifespan of 3 years, and it has additional protection for web-based transactions with “Verified by Visa” (VbV). In fact, it is a one card that enables access to funds throughout the world, providing maximum protection for all card users.

It has a daily withdrawal limit of N150,000 and $1,000 for local and International transactions on the ATM channel, and N1,000,000 and $6,250 for local and international on Web. While on POS, Current account cardholders have a withdrawal limit of N2,500,000 and Savings account cardholders N500,000 distinctively for local, but $2,500 parallel for International transactions.

In the words of Mr. Chuma Ezirim, Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Product, “FirstBank takes pride in pioneering the Visa Multi Currency Card in the country, as we remain committed to providing products and services that are designed to ensure the banking convenience of our customers regardless of their location.”

“This card is designed to make traveling fun for our customers and ensure they have a seamless transaction experience during their vacation, tourism and other business-related trips around the globe,” he added.

True and true, FirstBank has shown itself to be a digital innovating bank since the craze of technological transformation in the financial sector, with various Awards, achievements and recognitions.

This Nigeria’s Bank of first choice was named the first financial institution in the country to achieve sustained alternative channels transaction volumes of 100 million transactions in December 2015 and May 2016.

In 2015, FirstBank won two awards in the eBusiness category: MasterCard Cardless Champion award for International acceptance across all POS channels; and MasterCard Cardless Champion award for Mobile POS (MPOS) merchant acquisition.

In 2016, it won three awards also in the eBusiness category, viz: Asian Banker award for Best Mobile Payment Product for West Africa; Asian Banker award for Credit Card of the Year for West Africa; and Global Finance Award for ‘Digital Bank of Distinction – Emerging Markets, Africa Category’.

For two consecutive years, 2016 and 2017, the bank was honoured with the Digital Bank of Distinction, Nigeria award in the Global Finance Best Digital Banks Awards.

While still counting, in 2017, FirstBank won the Cashless Champion Award of MasterCard International on POS International transactions acquiring, and same year won Interswitch awards on Fastest Mobile Penetration in Africa; Highest Card Transacting Bank in Nigeria; and Highest Verve Issuing Bank.

For FirstBank to sustain its relevance and be part of the banks of the future, it must continue to be proactive to customers’ goals, their ‘next big thing’, and invest heavily, rediscover and reassert its core role in society, while securing ongoing support of policymakers.

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Awosika Replaces Belo-Olusoga as Access Bank Chairman

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Mrs Ajoritsedere Awosika has been announced as the new Chairman of Access Bank Plc. She will replace the present occupier of the position, Mrs Mosun Belo-Olusoga, who is expected to retire in January 2020.

A statement issued by the lender explained that Mrs Belo-Olusoga will retire from the post on January 8, 2020 on completion of her maximum 12-year term limit allowed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s Code of Corporate Governance for Banks and Discount Houses.

In the statement, Access Bank said Mrs Belo-Olusoga, who became the Chairman of the board in July 2015, confirmed that she has no disagreement with the board and there are no issues relating to her retirement that need to be brought to the attention of the shareholders of the company or the regulatory authorities.

‘The board of directors of Access Bank Plc is pleased to announce that its Chairman, Mrs Mosun Belo-Olusoga, will be retiring in January 2020.

“This follows her completion of the maximum 12-year term limit allowed by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Code of Corporate Governance for Banks and Discount Houses. Mrs Belo-Olusoga became the Chairman of the Board in July 2015.

“Mrs Belo-Olusoga has confirmed that she has no disagreement with the Board and there are no issues relating to her retirement that need to be brought to the attention of the shareholders of the Company or the regulatory authorities,” a part of the notice read.

It also thanked Mrs Belo-Olusoga for her contributions to the bank’s transformational growth, wishing her successor, Mrs Awosika, success in her new appointment.

The lender said the appointment of Mrs Awosika as its new Chairman was in line with its robust leadership succession plan so as to lead the company to its the next phase of transformation into becoming Africa’s Gateway to the World.

Mrs Awosika joined the board in April 2013 as an Independent Non-Executive Director and has been the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Board Credit and Finance Committee and the Board Audit Committee respectively in addition to membership of other Board Committees.

She is an accomplished administrator with over three decades experience in public sector governance. She was at various times, the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministries of Internal Affairs, Science & Technology and Power.

Mrs Awosika is a fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) and the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacy. She holds a Doctorate degree in Pharmaceutical Technology from the University of Bradford, United Kingdom.

She is the Chairman of Chams Plc and Josephine Consulting Limited and a Non-Executive Director of Capital Express Assurance Ltd.

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FirstBank Lagos Amateur Open Golf Championship Achieves Global Recognition, Gets Listed In the WAGR

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Nigeria’s premier and leading financial services provider, First Bank of Nigeria Limited has announced that the FirstBank Lagos Amateur Golf Championship scheduled to Tee-Off on Friday, 15 November 2019 is now listed amongst the golf tournaments in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR). The WAGR is offered by the R&A and the United States Golf Association as a global service to golf.  Through incorporation and assessment worldwide of both amateur and professional events, WAGR™ encourages the international development of the competitive game. 

Since 1894, FirstBank has continued to promote the growth and development of sports in Nigeria. Apart from the Lagos Amateur Golf Championship which the Bank has supported for 57 years, the Bank has sponsored the Georgian Cup of the Kaduna Polo Tournament for 100 years. Other sports supported by the Bank include; the Dala Hardcourt Tennis, Kano for 32 years and for over a combined 30 years, the Bank has sponsored and owned the popular Elephant Girls Basketball club – which has remained a dominant force in the Nigerian Women Basketball league for many years – and the Elephant boys football club. The highpoint of these is the 2019 100th unbroken years of sponsoring the Kaduna Polo Tournament, widely attributed as the longest running sports sponsorship in the world and a Guinness Book of Records potential. 

The 56-hole golf tournament, to be played over three days would be rounded off with a grand finale and awards ceremony on Sunday, 17 November 2019. Other activities to be held in the course of the tournament are the “Professional Coaching Clinic” to nurture the skills of young and upcoming talents and “Beat the Pro Skills competition”. The 2018 edition which had over 260 golfers in attendance was won by Sam Njoroge from Kenyan.

Speaking on the Bank’s sponsorship of the tournament, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer, First Bank of Nigeria Limited said; “We are excited at the giant strides achieved with the FirstBank Lagos Amateur Open Golf Championship. The championship is now one of the international golf events where all amateur golfers worldwide can now participate and amass points to aid their WAGR rankings.”

“FirstBank has been in the business of supporting sports in Nigeria throughout its 125 years of existence. We have partnered with individuals and institutions to provide support, not only in the sports arena, but also in Education, the Arts and Small and Medium Enterprises”, he concluded.

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FirstBank Partners With CFA Society Nigeria To Host 2019 Ethics Challenge Competition

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In the furtherance of the Bank’s commitment to promote business ethics, professional excellence and education, reflected in the Bank’s Endowment programme – the Samuel Asabia Chair for Business Ethics at the University of Lagos – First Bank of Nigeria Limited for three consecutive years is partnering with CFA Society Nigeria to host its annual flagship event, the Ethics Challenge,  scheduled for Friday & Saturday, 15 -16 November 2019 in Abuja and Lagos for the regional and national levels respectively.

The Ethics Challenge is designed to increase students’ awareness of the ethical dilemmas and issues they may face when they enter the investment management industry. At the Ethics Challenge, students are given an ethics case study to analyze, evaluate, recommend and present to a panel of judges. To determine the winning team, the judges provide feedback based on the identification and understanding of the ethical issues in the case, the recommendations provided with the depth of the analysis, quality of the presentation, and responses to the judges’ questions. 

The 2018 winner, Obafemi Awolowo University, would compete with 15 other higher institutions in the country to defend its trophy. Babcock University, Bowen University, Covenant University, Federal University of Technology Akure, Mountain Top University, University of Calabar, University of Ibadan and University of Lagos are the schools competing in the Lagos preliminary round.

Other schools are University of Abuja, University of Maiduguri, Bayero University, University of Ilorin, University of Nigeria and Madonna University in the Abuja based preliminary round.

The competition will be judged by Mrs. Adeola Asabia, Member, Board of Trustees, Business Ethics Chair, University of Lagos; Musa Bagudu, CFA, Head, External Funds Management Office, Central Bank of Nigeria; Kunle Anida, CFA, Director, Deals Advisory, PWC Nigeria amongst others.

According to CFA Society Nigeria President, Mr. Banji Fehintola, “The annual Ethics Challenge embodies CFA Society Nigeria’s mission to promote the highest standards of ethics in our investment and financial services industry. It touches on many of CFA Institute’s Future of Finance six areas of focus which include: Transparency and Fairness, Regulation and Enforcement, and Safeguarding the System. It also promotes ethical awareness and fosters a healthy investment industry that works for the ultimate benefit of society. Through our collaboration with First Bank of Nigeria Limited to run this competition annually, we will continue to invest in our university students and we hope to build the commitment of our future professionals to operate according to sound ethical principles”.

Expressing her delight on FirstBank’s support and participation in the CFA Ethics Challenge, the Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Folake Ani- Mumuney said “through our 125 years of existence, we at FirstBank pride ourselves in being exemplary in ensuring that global best practices are upheld in adherence to ethical standards across our organizational practices and activities. 

“We recognize the impact of the CFA Society Nigeria through its giant strides in fostering Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct amongst university students and other touch points in the society in preparing them to overcome ethical challenges that they may face in the workplace environment “. 

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