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Driving payment system with ‘overdraft card’ service

By Chijioke Nelson
15 June 2016   |   4:03 am
The payments system “revolution” in the country may have appeared unending with the coming of card-enabled overdraft services, aimed at deepening and supporting lifestyle banks’ customers.


The payments system “revolution” in the country may have appeared unending with the coming of card-enabled overdraft services, aimed at deepening and supporting lifestyle banks’ customers.

The electronic service and technological innovation came on the back of relentless quest for solution that would avail customers the instant cash to meet urgent transaction needs.

According to the service proposition, card users can now enjoy a higher level of banking convenience as they are enabled to complete card transactions seamlessly, while the overdraft service can be accessed through Point of Sale (PoS), Web and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) worldwide with naira and dollar denominated values.

While this service offering is new in the country and seems to be limited in terms of the providers, First Bank of Nigeria Limited (FirstBank) is currently making it available to the Nigerian financial market with its “Debit Card Overdraft Service”.

The call for deepening of payments system operations through innovative and cutting edge technologies both locally and internationally is currently getting a high level attention, especially as electronic financial transactions through card is fast becoming a lifestyle for the average bank customer in Nigeria.

The Group Head, E-Business at FirstBank, Chuma Ezirim, said: “The Debit Card Overdraft Service will assist in providing our customers the highest level of service when they consummate card transactions”, he said.

This service reinforces the Bank’s commitment to the provision of a full range of worldclass debit card services and it is targeted at salary account holders, as well as Small and Medium Enterprises/individual account holders.

Repayment options, according to the bank, are flexible and the overdraft service would be valid for the three-year life span of the debit card, offering customers who signed up to the service ease and convenience, since there would no longer be need to worry about having insufficient funds when they initiate transactions with their debit cards.

For the bank, its business model and focus on customer satisfaction have helped it retained its number one banking brand ranking in Nigeria for the fifth consecutive year in the 2016 The Banker and Brand Finance Top 500 Banking Brands in the world.

According to the 2016 Top 500 banking brands ranking published in the February edition of The Banker magazine, Financial Times Group in conjunction with Brand Finance, London, United Kingdom, First Bank moved up the scale in 16 places. The bank moves from 336 position in 2015, to 320 this year.

FirstBank was officially recognized as the first financial institution in the country to achieve a transaction volume of 100 million transactions in a month by Interswitch Transnational -Africa’s leading integrated payment and transaction processing company.

This milestone was achieved in the month of December 2015 and represents the total transactions processed by FirstBank’s Front End Processor running on the Interswitch transaction switching platform which seamlessly links all financial institutions in Nigeria to facilitate better and quicker transactions across all platforms.

As Nigeria’s leading financial institution with over 10 million customers, this achievement by FirstBank clearly aligns with its strategic intent to promote financial inclusion, support the cash-less policy drive of the Central Bank of Nigeria and boost economic growth via e-payments across Nigeria and the African continent.

The Divisional Chief Executive Officer, Switching and Processing, Interswitch, Akeem Lawal, said:, “It really says something about the strength and development of electronic transactions in Nigeria that a single banking partner can record 100 million transactions in a single month. When you add this figure to that of our other partners, then you can begin to have an idea of the sheer size and demand for electronic financial services in Nigeria.”

But the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, of FirstBank, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, assured that the bank will continue to employ novel approaches in providing secure and convenient banking services for our customers and promised that the bank will continue to innovate and extend its leadership of the financial sector services with specialized and technology-driven products and services.

FirstBank’s investment in e-business reflects our commitment to promoting financial inclusion which is widely regarded as a lever for sustainable economic growth and development as well as enhancing entrepreneurship.

“Our passion to serve and extend financial services to the unbanked has since inspired several innovations and we thank our esteemed customers for their continued patronage and trust in our services whilst dedicating the recognition to them.

In its over 120 years of uninterrupted operations, FirstBank’s outstanding services have attracted innumerable recognitions and awards, winning the Nigerian Stock Exchange’s yearly President’s Merit Award for the best financial report in the banking industry a record thirteen times.

The award, therefore, represents a global recognition of the giant strides the Bank has made over the years in deploying technology to power its operations and services, and ultimately making banking services more convenient, accessible and faster. These are major feats in the Bank’s customer-oriented and innovative financial services that confirm the Bank’s interest in promoting its customers’ lifestyles and businesses.

FirstBank has been the back-to-back winner of the “Best Bank in Nigeria” for nine consecutive years, “Best Trade Finance Bank in Nigeria”, and “Best Foreign Exchange Bank in Nigeria” for seven (7) consecutive years – all awarded by the US-based Global Finance magazine.

For five consecutive years 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 the Bank has been named “Nigeria’s Number One Banking Brand” by The Banker magazine and Brand Finance Top 500 Banking Brands and “Best Retail Bank in Nigeria”, 2011, 2012 and 2013, by the Asian Banker International Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards. Also, in 2013, FirstBank was awarded the “Best Bank in Nigeria” in the Euromoney Awards for Excellence, “Best Bank in West Africa” in the African Banker Awards, and Best Foreign Exchange Services in Africa in the EMEA Finance Treasury Services Awards.

Global Credit Rating (GCR), a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) licensed rating agency also assigned the Bank national long-term and short-term ratings of  “AA-” and “A1+”  respectively, recognising the Bank’s strong brand and highest total assets market share; while Agusto & Co, a national credit rating agency, in 2012 upheld the previous year’s rating of  “A+”, with stable outlook, noting the Bank’s strong brand and domestic franchise, experienced management team, good capitalisation base, strong liquidity, improved profitability and access to low cost of funds.