BusinessDay

Wema Bank and the gains of technology

Wema Bank plc, Nigeria’s longest surviving indigenous bank, recently released its half year financial report, ended June 30, 2022. The report, released on July 27, 2022, showed a growth performance across all financial indices in the first-half of its 2022 operations. In the period under review – January 1 to June 30, the bank shot its gross earnings from the N39.82 billion it recorded in H1 of 2021 to N59.59 billion, an increase of 50 percent. Its interest income also grew from the N32.19 billion it recorded at this period last year to N49.75 billion, an increase of 55 percent.

The bank’s non-interest income went up from N7.64 billion recorded in the same period last year to N9.85 billion, an increase of 29 percent. Similarly, it recorded a 43 percent increase in profit before tax (PBT) from N4.30 billion over the same period last year to N6.13 billion for the period under review. The bank’s profit after tax (PAT) also increased from N3.72 billion in H1 2021 to N5.30 billion, reflecting a raise of 42 percent.

The bank also grew its deposit by 14 percent from N968.17 billion reported in FY 2021 to N1.09 trillion in H1 2022. It also grew its loans and advances from N418.86 billion to N447.23 billion in H1 2022, an increase of seven percent.

Ademola Adebise, the managing director/chief executive officer of the bank, attributed the performance to increased customer satisfaction that the bank delivers through its investment in technology.

“Our bank, over the last decade and especially since the creation of our digital banking platform ALAT, has started a transformation journey building on a strong technology and data analytics capability foundation to offer seamless and exceptional customer service across multiple channels to customers spread across Nigeria.

We are now starting to see the impact of that in our financial performance over the last few quarters. We believe that this growth trajectory will be sustained and improved over the short- and medium-term horizons.”

Wema Bank’s investment in technology is predicated on the bank’s focus on customer satisfaction as its major objective. This led to the customer-centric operational changes introduced by the bank in recent years. In line with the bank’s corporate value, Wema Bank thinks of great and exciting ideas to solve problems that its customers care about.

It designs solutions that inspire joy and use cutting-edge technology, new developments and research-driven ideas to provide accessible solutions. This value led the bank to the adoption of digital technology which saw the launch of a revolutionary Wema Bank product, ALAT by Wema, Nigeria’s first fully digital bank, in 2017.

Read also: Wema Bank records 50% gross earnings in H1 2022

The introduction of ALAT redefined experiential banking in Nigeria by offering a branchless and paperless banking. This reduced the stress of having to walk into a branch to open an account with a seamless sign-up process using a mobile phone, personal computer or a tablet. During its first year, ALAT acquired more than 250,000 customers, who were responsible for well over N1.6 billion in general deposits. In 2018, the bank closed in the N1 billion mark in terms of deposits into savings accounts.

Tunde Mabawonku, the bank’s chief finance officer, noted that the bank’s focus on driving productivity gains through its staff and digital platforms over the past few years is now translating to steady growth in the bottom-line numbers.

“Our digital banking assets have continued to boost customer satisfaction and build trust for us. We have also embarked on top-to-bottom marketing campaigns, giving people the opportunity to experience ALAT and the benefits of banking with us. We will keep building on these activities and initiatives to improve our service delivery, increase the bottom line and deliver high-end returns to shareholders.”

Mabawonku informed that ALAT continues to deliver results and recently won the Best Digital Bank of the Year Award’ 2021, adding that the transaction value grew by 106 percent to N1.46 billion in 2021 from N709.804 million recorded in 2020.

This is the power of technology and it is not going to abate soon. If nothing, the impressive financial performance of Wema Bank in the last couple of years, in general, and the last half year, in particular, has shown that the future of banking is to be driven by technology. Any bank that wishes to significantly increase its play in the banking sector must up its game in the technological space.

Oni, entrepreneur, writes from Lagos

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