Access Bank Plc has reiterated its commitment to helping the economy grow. For some time now, banks have been intensifying their efforts towards financial inclusion and meeting the needs of their retail customers. Daily, there is a new campaign promoting a reward scheme or product – an evidence of a structural shift in business models even as banks are adopting new strategies.
Access Bank’s Group Managing Director/CEO, Herbert Wigwe said the bank is also helping to lift the economy through its retail operations. He said the bank has changed from being primarily focused on wholesale – where they only had to work majorly with large or medium corporations – to retail banking, ensuring payments are seamless from top to bottom.
According to him, this shift by Access Bank to retail banking operations, has seen the bank increase its credit facilities options. The primary objective of retail banks is to be the one-stop-shop for financial services for its consumers. In line with this, Access Bank offers services such as current accounts, savings accounts, investments, personal loans and so on. Also, all of these services are fast and digitally led.
A part of the bank’s strategy is to provide customers with digital services, using certain key strategic levers like automation, connectivity, simplicity and convenience. In this vein, Access Bank has leveraged technology to create instant and remote solutions to deploying digital services across all its subsidiaries.
The bank’s retail innovation journey has led it to expand its digital loan offerings to other multi-tenured variants to fit the needs of its diverse retail customers. Between 2018 and 2019, Access Bank disbursed over N30 billion in loans to 1.5 million individual requests. This was made possible through the bank’s QuickBucks application, which basically houses all its quick loan products.
Wigwe also shared that the bank disburses an average of N200 million to 4,600 customers daily, having set a target of N400 million daily to at least 20,000 customers. On the QuickBucks application, users have access to PayDay Loan, Salary Advance, Small Ticket Personal Loan, and Device Financing. Outside of the app, customers can access mortgage loans, vehicle financing, Maternal Health Service Support, school fees advance, an auto loan, and creative sector loans.
It would seem quick lending loans are fast becoming the lifesavers in the retail banking sector. Salary earners who have accounts domiciled in Access Bank can access these loans in times of emergency, and simply have the money deducted from their accounts later. Considering the hassle of seeking loans elsewhere, these are no-collateral loans.
Across the industry, banks have become more aggressive with their attempts to maintain relevance in their retail market segment. As signs and research point towards retail banking being the future of the financial services industry globally, many banks are committing resources to research, capacity building, and the development of infrastructure in harnessing its vast consumer banking potential.
Access Bank has shown great effort in this regard – a feat that was rewarded as the bank was rated third in terms of customer experience in 2019 by KPMG’s banking Industry customer experience survey.
Prior to its merger with the defunct Diamond Bank, Access Bank had built a solid wholesale business with a strong treasury and was renowned for strong risk management. Diamond Bank had its strengths in micro-Small and Medium enterprises (SMEs) and individuals, with a strong digital institution of about 17 million customers.
Following the 2019 Access-Diamond merger, Access Bank became the largest bank in Nigeria by customer base and is continuously upgrading its systems to provide the same high level of service to its over 31 million customers post- merger.
Good for the economy
The growth of the financial sector plays a huge role in economic development. Countries with more developed financial systems grow faster over long periods of time. What this means is that financial development is not simply an outcome of economic growth; it contributes to this growth.
Across sub-Saharan Africa, mobile money has grown by 23 per cent in 2011, and 43 per cent in 2017. Around the world, people are calling the rise of digital banking in Africa within the last decade “the golden age of fintech”. At a time when Nigerians were finding it difficult to save or spend as a result of a recovering economy, Access Bank’s retail operations have proven to be vital in the positive upturn of financial transactions and the economy through its product and service offerings.
Access Bank’s retail offerings promote saving and investment among young Nigerians, as most of these products are digital, they target rural and semi-urban customers that were previously disenfranchised by traditional banking operations. Today, millions of customers conveniently send and receive funds on the bank’s digital platforms.These transactions, one way or another, have helped with the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by providing access to finance.
Access Bank’s popular Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) code, *901#, has made it possible for people to access financial services using their mobile phone without internet service. Quite a number of these innovations accelerate economic growth by leapfrogging over bottlenecks. In sub-Saharan Africa, this mobile model has proven itself as a useful tool for enabling financial inclusion as a result of its low operating costs and banking fees – in comparison to traditional banking methods. Also, products like the QuickBucks app and AccessAfrica help accelerate financial inclusion, achieving scale across borders and documentation of the economy.
Access Bank’s creative sector loan, in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), aims to build capacity and create employment for individuals and businesses. It is available to people in the fashion, information technology, movie production, and movie distribution industries. With this loan, creative entrepreneurs can buy equipment and materials, pay workers, and produce more efficiently.
In a statement, the bnk’s Executive Director, Retail Banking, Victor Etuokwu said: “Acquiring loans in Nigeria has always been known to be limiting – either due to access, collateral issues and the duration of the approval process. With our obligations to our customers, especially during difficult economic periods, we are emphasising Access Bank’s position in offering lifestyle products and services that meet their financial needs.”
Access Bank has been able to establish itself as a reliable bridge between individuals and corporate bodies looking to invest, those who need fast cash for business or personal reasons. By promoting economic growth through capital accumulation and technological progress – increasing the savings rate, producing information about investment, facilitating and encouraging the inflows of foreign capital, as well as optimising the allocation of capital – the bank is moving a step further by using its network, expertise, and experience to pull its weight in growing the economy