Access Bank Saving Accounts Hit N1.2trn, Now Largest Customer Base In Africa – Herbert Wigwe

Access Bank Plc says its total earnings from saving accounts in Nigeria has hit N1.2 trillion, up from N700bn, while its customers base currently stands at 42 million with 46 million account holders on its platform. 

It noted that these staggering figures have ensured that Access Bank is now the largest customer base on the continent. 

Speaking at the virtual Acess Bank Investment Engagement Forum, the bank CEO, Herbert Wigwe stated that the bank is in line to become a global franchise, with branches in ten African countries and presence in the United Kingdom, Dubai, China, India and Lebanon. 

According to Herbert Wigwe, no African Bank of Acess Bank scale has embraced digital as much as the bank had.  

“Nigeria remain our primary market. Our home market, a very significant market, one in which we will continue to entrench ourselves very deeply in and by definition Africa, which is basically the continent through which we do business. As we grow as an institution and obtain global scale, it’s important that we entrench and make sure we follow other institutions who have used these strategies in the past and ensure that we are extremely strong at home and our immediate environmental. Nigeria and Africa remain extremely important to us not just because we are from here, but also because of the scale and to ensure there is a proper balance, we need to have a presence outside of Africa to ensure that grow earnings and capital preservation outside of the continent. 

“We have shown tremendous growth. For customers growth, we have achieved a 36 per cent growth year on year, Which was helped by the Diamond Bank acquisition in 2019. On the gross revenue earnings, we have shown growth. In profit before Tax, the number is getting significantly better. We have the largest customer base on the continent and it’s very important, but efficiency is equally more important to get the full benefit from scale. As of 2019, we have 36 million, we have 19 million digital customers followed by KCB and some of our colleagues in Nigeria. 

According to him, the bank has continued to improve year on year, our gross earnings from 2019 grew by 15 per cent in 2020, profit before tax at N116 billion as at 2020 compared to N100 billion in the corresponding year. 

“The figures for 2019 showed a three-quarter of the combination of Diamond Bank. The first quarter did not have Diamond Bank. While in 2020 we had full calculation for a larger franchise. So the balance sheet reflects growth in 2020 and we have to be careful of growth rate due to the impact of coronavirus. We have also seen a growth rate in customers deposit and that is for real. In savings and retail as well. We have continued to record strong liquidity ratio and these figures can be pushed up as we get into 2021 and 2022. All aspect of our business continues to show improvement and for us, the one that is most important and which we are happy to share is banking growth and velocity of transaction.

“We are tracking customers activity and we were able to explore the digital space during the lockdown period. Pore retail remains extremely important to us in diversifying income standpoint into the institution on the lending and non-lending side. Last year, we were generating 45,000 unique loans per day and 5000 to unique customers, which meant that we provided 45,000 loans to unique customers on a monthly basis slowed down again by Covid-19, but it shows the extent we are pushing retail and it does come with larger margin, larger commission. 

“So we are prioritizing margin growth to ensure that we bring down our overall cost. We are also targeting payment. We want to make sure our customers use our various point of sale POS, our various devices, our telephones, our internet banking, our cards etc and also ensure that we delight our customers with our digital services. We are coming out with ways that improve our overall infrastructure for customers experience and our 42 million customers are delighted that is geared towards 2021.

“We will continue to push the cost of income ratio over time. All we have done is to continue to improve on efficiency so that our overall cost stability will be where we want it to be. Today we have 42 million customers and growing, but we have 46 million accounts, our saving accounts are up by about N1.2 trillion from N700 billion or impact N680 billion, but today it’s N1.2 trillion and 9.5 million on our mobile app. In 2018, in the first nine months, down to 2019 and 2020 customers base has increased. 

On the 2021 projection and outlook, Wigwe said the bank was poised to spread its nest and in order to retain a huge amount of foreign currencies inflow. 

“Into 2021, we will pay attention to capital retention, we will continue to our business outside of Africa, which is strong and with stronger currencies and we will continue to retain those earnings with a view to strengthening the overall capital base. We hope to be strong at home and ensure that our business outside Africa is strong as well, that way remain sustainable and keep the positive trajectory of the bank going forward.

“Digital remain an important part of what we are doing, we will be a clear cut digital leader on the continent and we are mindful of where you have the nature of customer base that we have. You must build digital infrastructure to support them. So you have to create that infrastructure to improve your customer’s experience. So we are doing everything that is possible, we are digitizing and we are ensuring that our staff are a lot more efficient. 

“We need the right type of staff and training and we are doing this with our various technology partners and we are adopting the right governance processes to support all of these. Digital and IT are tricky things to do, if you don’t have the right governance process to support it, it’s not just about building infrastructure, but you must continue to protect them as you invest in all of those. As we improve on our customer’s experience to ensure that different channels are working as they should and we are ensuring that we grow our customer base on a month by month basis.”

On the business opportunities available on the continent, Wigwe said, “We still have about 370 million unbaked individuals across access Africa, in terms of electronic payment there is $8.2b on the table, remittances and across border payment about $9.2b and all these show potentials and opportunities for growth.”

“It means that there is an opportunity for an Acess Bank that is well run, has compliance ability to support trade and remittances without taking an incremental risk. We are building a global gateway for trade across the continent for different institutions. We are focusing on the key market and creating a payment gateway that supports all of that.” 

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