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Adesola Adeduntan: Thinking Nigeria’s Financial Inclusion 125 years ahead

Under the leadership of Adesola Adeduntan, First Bank of Nigeria has been at the forefront in the campaign for greater financial inclusion in Nigeria and across Africa.

Dr. Adesola Adeduntan

Read Also: Empowerment is the key to driving financial inclusion

The century-and-a-quarter old bank, which has made significant strides in reaching the under-banked and unbanked population, is taking a step further – envisioning financial inclusion in the next 125 years.

First Bank of Nigeria is one of the leading institutions championing financial inclusion in Nigeria, with one of the largest agent banking network in the country. The bank has Over 40,000 agent locations and has covered 754 out of 774 LGAS in Nigeria.

It provides basic banking offerings in all 36 states of the country including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

So far in the year, there have been at least 150m transaction volume/count and over 1million processed daily on its Agent Network amounting to N2.5trn.

First Bank of Nigeria has created over 150,000 indirect job creations through agent banking and included account opening, BVN capture and card issuance in its service offering portfolio while it has introduced micro-credit facility to individuals and small businesses within the rural communities where the agents are located.

In the utilization of USSD, the bank has 8.4 million total subscribers on its platform as of October 2019, compared to 6.3 million subscribers in the same period of 2018.

It has also processed at least N3.1trn on its USSD platform which is based on over 621 million transactions processed on the platform.

In fact, over 75 percent of transactions carried out on First Bank of Nigeria’s USSD platform is done by new users brought into the formal financial system who are mostly in the remote locations where physical banking structure is non-existent.

The statistics are testament of the visionary leadership of Adeduntan who is the managing director/ chief executive officer of First Bank of Nigeria Limited and subsidiaries (comprising FBN UK, FBN Congo DR, FBN Ghana, FBN Senegal, FBN Guinea, FBN Gambia, FBN Sierra Leone, FBN Mortgages, and First Pension Custodian).

His appointment to lead the bank in 2016 was on account of the professionalism and dedication he had demonstrated in his previous role as Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer which he had occupied since 2014 when he was appointed to the Board of First Bank of Nigeria.

Adeduntan before then was a Director and the pioneer Chief Financial Officer/Business Manager of Africa Finance Corporation (AFC).

He had also served as a Senior Vice- President & Chief Financial Officer at Citibank Nigeria Limited, a Senior Manager in the Financial Services Group of KPMG Professional Services and a Manager at Arthur Andersen Nigeria.

Over the course of his sterling career, he has garnered diverse expertise in treasury and financial management, risk management, accounting and internal controls, corporate governance, corporate strategy development and implementation, corporate finance, business performance management, financial advisory, investors, regulators and rating agencies relationship management, deployment and management of information technology, and compliance.

Sola attended the University of Ibadan, where he obtained a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Cranfield University Business School, United Kingdom, which he attended as a “British Chevening Scholar.” In addition to his MBA, he has attended executive/leadership programmes at Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford and INSEAD.

Since taking over at the helms of the affair, Adeduntan has committed financial and human resources to ensure financial inclusion is a reality in Nigeria. This dedication won him the 2018 African Banker of the Year in the African Leadership Magazine Persons of the Year Award which took place in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was also inducted into the African Leadership CEOS Hall of Fame at the event.

In addition, Global Banking and Finance Review recently awarded First Bank of Nigeria Limited, a pioneer in retail banking development in Nigeria with recognition for its dedication to providing leadership and excellence in the banking sector.

“The bank’s commitment to retail banking is reflected in their strategic vision, organizational structure and strong risk management which contributed to their outstanding performance,” said Wanda Rich, editor, Global Banking & Finance Review “We look forward to seeing more from them for years to come.”

Recently at the 2019 University of Edinburgh’s Sustainable Business in Africa Forum where Adeduntan was a keynote speaker, he shared insights on the future of financial inclusion in Africa and how financial institutions can steer the continent to achieve greater inclusion.

With the UN forecasting that between 2015 and 2050, Africa will add 1.3 billion people, more than doubling its current population of 1.2 billion, Adeduntan opined that the future is African and gave a positive message for an easy financial inclusion penetration in Africa; which is a catalyst for equitable development and sustainable inclusive economic growth.

To position First Bank of Nigeria ahead of that future, Adeduntan pointed to three strategic tripod approach namely Technology, Product Development and Financial Education, and Partnership and People.

To that end, First Bank of Nigeria is focusing on introducing more accessible digital financial tools that facilitate greater levels of inclusion and economic involvement. Similarly, there will be a continuous investment in technology to build a robust, convenient and easy to use payment solution.

Adeduntan also said the bank will leverage the omnichannel approach, where digital is simply part of the general business and covers everything from back-end customer relationship management to front- end mobile applications for customers.

In addition, First Bank of Nigeria would focus on Expansion of Digital loan and savings.

For Product development and Financial Education, the emphasis would be on value proposition in product development to cater for the needs of the unbanked and underbanked, as well as empowerment of low- income earners and small scale businesses.

The bank will also focus on empowering women and youth through wealth creation product offerings, financial literacy and career counselling programme for secondary school students, and empowerment of low-income earners and small scale businesses.

Adeduntan, the other leg of the three-pronged approach would be Partnership & People.

First Bank of Nigeria will be focused on partnership with Fintechs, Telcos, Micro-finance, consulting services, development institutions and any other emerging market capable of driving financial inclusion.

There will be the empowerment of new and existing Firstmonie agents by providing security and mobility to reach remote and difficult locations.

The bank will also focus on an incentive package award system to encourage stakeholder activities in financial inclusion programmes.

Under the leadership of Sola, First Bank plans to drive its retail banking and deepen financial inclusion through the use of credit as an incentive to bring the excluded into the financial net.

First Bank was awarded the Best Retail Bank Nigeria 2019 because of the company’s outstanding performance and achievements in retail banking and by scoring well in the following categories.

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