By OKEY ONYENWEAKU
In a move that appears to be designed to push the bank to the top of the pile of technology adopters in the financial service industry in Nigeria, Herbert Wigwe, Group Managing Director of Access Bank of Nigeria has met with Microsoft Incorporated’s Chief Executive Officer, Satya Nadella, the meeting which held on Thursday September 27, 2018 in Seattle United States of America, was, according to those privy to the event, a clear strategic initiative to bring Access Bank to the cusp of available state-of-the-art financial technology.
With pressure mounting on Nigerian banks to up the ante on the quality of financial service delivery in the country, a growing number of institutions are reinforcing their technology platforms in a race to dominate, efficiency, speed and accuracy in service provision.
Access Bank’s recent meeting with Microsoft big wigs was part of advancing its recently announced five year strategic plan with has adopted technology as a critical lever by which it intends top provide superior financial service to its different African markets.
According to Wigwe, “Africa is currently experiencing a massive growth in wider access to and adoption of technology, especially in improving businesses processes and lifestyle as well as optimum use of resources. However, we still realise that there are untapped and immense opportunities to provide essential and well-secured channels for transactions using technology to raise the standard of banking services in Africa, even while understanding the socio-economic dynamics of the countries”.
In response Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO noted that he would want Microsoft, “ to enable organisations like Access Bank to innovate digitally and grow their business exponentially.”
He noted that only two entities are capable of being the Alibaba of Nigeria – A massive retail operation or a large financial institution. “We need partners like you who have deep ambition for exceptional customer service.”
“We will be delighted to form a deeper relationship with Access Bank to drive innovation, and by extension exceptional customer experience in the African financial services space.”
It has been observed that Access Bank through the Microsoft partnership has kicked into higher gear its five-year plan to improve the global perception of Africa by drawing attention of the global community to the indigenous products of Africans – their rich history, people, culture, art, and lifestyle – while providing channels where businesses can fully participate in commercial activities globally.
The Bank has continued to position itself as a leader in the emerging innovation conversation by leveraging technology to provide fast, secure, and reliable banking experiences for stratified customer segments within Nigeria and other parts of Africa.
The bank experienced 12 per cent grew year-on-year in pretax profit to N45.84 billion propelled by 29 per cent drop in impairment provision for loan losses to N7.34 billion and gross earnings which was up three per cent to N253 billion in the first six months of the year.
The growth in revenue was driven 15 per cent rise in interest income, although non-interest income decline 22 per cent, weakened by 53 per cent dip in net trading on the back of foreign exchange income gain of ₦33.8 billion, which was down 157 per cent during this period.
However, net fee & Commission income appreciated 21 per cent to ₦30.1 billion, bolstered by increase in credit related fees and commissions and E-business income, which appreciated 53 per cent and 67 per cent respectively. Also, other operating income accelerated by a whopping 143 per cent to ₦10.3 billion underpinned on income from asset management and other financial services.
The bank’s shareholders have something to cheer about as it declared 25 kobo interim dividend. “The economic environment is harsh. If they were able to come up with good strategy to make good profit in spite of the fact the revenue didn’t really grow, one has to praise their efforts. I think they have performed well,” he further noted.