Nigeria’s leading financial institution and Africa’s Bank of Choice has expressed its appreciation to the public – especially its customers – for their continued patronage of its services during the COVID 19 lockdown, whilst assuring the public that stringent measures have been implemented to ensure its branches and locations across the country operate in line with the health and safety guidelines issued by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
Expressing the Bank’s delight at welcoming customers to its branches and locations from Monday, 4 May 2020, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, the Bank’s CEO noted that these safety measures include ensuring personal protection, as wearing face masks is now mandatory; maintaining social distancing by reducing physical contact by at least one meter from the next person and queue guides and markings are in place to guide customers; as well as enhancing the practice of personal hygiene as hand washing stations and hand sanitisers have been provided.
Speaking on the impact made by the Bank across its sub-Saharan business Dr. Adeduntan said “We are glad that our investment in technology over the years has really borne fruit as many of our staff were able to work remotely during the lock down with effective IT support to hand. We were therefore able to actively support our customers, their families and businesses through these challenging times.
We ensured business continuity across eight countries – Nigeria, Ghana; Democratic Republic of Congo; Sierra-Leone; the Gambia, Guinea; Senegal and United Kingdom. We recognize that this has truly been a trying period and are poised to continue to provide as much support as we can to our customers and communities we operate in”.
Coming back home, the Bank’s Chief explained that during this period it proactively reviewed products and services to support customers better and expressed his appreciation to Nigerians for the whole hearted adoption and patronage of its electronic services, as these indeed demonstrated the trust which the public repose in the Bank and in return the Bank commits to always live by its resolve on being true to its mantra – You First.
He said “It is for this reason; putting our customers first, that our Bank working to regulatory, Federal and State Government directives worked assiduously to keep over 50 percent of our branches open across all nooks and crannies of the country.
At the same time the call centre was restaffed in the most efficient manner and retooled as we provided even more opportunities for our customers to reach us for their banking needs”.
He further provided a snapshot of transactions carried out across FirstBank’s e-banking channels during the five-week lockdown in various parts of the country:
• We recorded approximately 12.6 million withdrawals amounting to about N156bn across our ATMs well placed across the country.
• Nigerians with FirstBank cards used them 105 million times to make payments or withdrawals worth about N1.18 Trillion as they relied on us to settle their banking needs
• Our customers made transfers over 106 million times with a total value of about N8.18 Trillion across our digital channels.
• During this period, our 53,000 plus agents have processed over N512bn worth of transactions
• We have also recorded over 275,000 new sign-ups to alternative channels covering our Firstmobile; USSD and First-Online platforms.
As one of the leading SME banks in the country, with a drive to ensure SMEs are supported, Dr. Adeduntan, also stated that FirstBank has enhanced palliatives such as introduction of special waivers on repayment fees on its credit cards, and a 90-day loan moratorium on selected products across markets, to help cushion the impact of the toll on employment and livelihoods.
Our Wholesale business was also not left out as advisory services and a range of financial needs were met to the delight of our Corporate and Commercial customers.
On community impact, the Bank partnered with other organisations in the private sector to collectively help those most impacted by this pandemic. It has contributed N1billion and several volunteer staff towards the efforts of the Nigerian Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) to meet the intervention objectives in the key areas of health; testing, provision of much needed health infrastructure, isolation units and raising public awareness and where needed providing food to the most vulnerable.
This is a time when we all must step up and do our bit by our people and our communities.
In addition FirstBank in keeping with its long standing tradition and focus on educational support and talent development has partnered with several organisations in a bid to help 1 million students access e learning.
“It is important in all this not to forget the children whose needs can so easily be overlooked at a time such as this”.
‘’ As the lock down is lifted nationwide, we will continue to provide seamless service to our customers ensuring the highest levels of support whilst operating as efficiently as possible, ensuring safety of all is paramount and empowering our staff to drive these goals. We will do these with three things in mind: ensuring you are staying safe; supporting your business; and safeguarding our future’’ Dr, Adeduntan said.