Responsible Lending & Procurement

FirstBank has in place, an ESGMS encompassing policies and guidelines that ensure all transactions that the Bank is considering funding include adequate consideration for the environment and communities

The Journey of Embedding Sustainability within the Group

FirstBank has put in place environmental, social and governance management systems (ESGMS). This encompasses a policy, a set of guidelines that ensures all transactions that the Bank is considering funding include adequate provision for actions necessary to prevent, control and mitigate negative impacts on the environment and communities, and to improve environmental quality.

The ESGMS process is currently being aligned with FirstBank new credit workflow. The goal is to ensure efficiency through automation as relevant implementation documents such as the environmental, social and governance risks screening checklist (which is to be completed by a relationship manager and verified by analyst against the EIA report) will be fully automated (see CR&S report for details).

Sustainable Procurement

Sustainable procurement remains one of the opportunities identified as part of our stakeholder engagement designed to embed sustainability in the Group.

We believe sourcing and engaging suppliers who support our Group’s code of business ethics, commitment to environmental stewardship and standards for labour can help us attain our sustainability ambitions.

While we have been unable to meet our sustainable procurement target, our focus remains on going beyond our current basic levels of supplier compliance to ensuring integration of sustainability practices. We plan to improve our procurement process and ensure that the Group is on a journey towards a sustainable supply chain. Integrating sustainability across key dimensions of the procurement process requires strategy & planning, sourcing and category management; supplier relationship management; workforce transformation; process excellence and technology as well as risk management which include identifying and quantifying risks existing in the sourcing and procurement from a sustainability perspective (see CR&S report for details).

Information Security & Customer Privacy

The internet has opened up organisations as well as consumers of product and services to unprecedented opportunities never experienced before with the dawn and evolution of the World Wide Web.

The entry of the smart phones and other electronic methods of mass communications into the financial service sphere has created huge consumer privacy concerns. Personal information, when misused or inadequately protected, can result in identity theft, financial fraud, and other problems that collectively cost people, businesses, and governments millions of Naira each year.

In addition, cybercrimes and civil disputes consume huge resources, proofing liability often involve lengthy investigations. Information and cybersecurity has never been so important as it has become today, the practice of preventing unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, inspection, recording or destruction of information which hitherto was the preserve for the protection of enterprises data has changed, emphasis today is on educating customers on the safe use of the internet and protection of Personally Identifiable information (PIIs) which are sensitive personal information that individuals provide in the course of everyday transactions online and through mobile services which has become the target of cybercriminals as customer appears to be the weak link in the chain of security.

From the foregoing, the FirstBank Group has been committed to following information and cybersecurity best practices and standards with the implementation of the ISO 27001 Information Security Standard and other supporting standards, being the First Financial institution in Nigeria to achieve this prized certification the Group has pioneered the engagement of the generality of banking product consumers through various mass communication channels such as news prints, radio jingles, bank service touch points such (ATMs and banners displayed across its branch network and the internet to educate and crate cyber-literate consumers  which remains the best defence for cyber criminality.

FirstBank has remained unrelenting and committed in its drive to ensure the safety of customer’s data with various laudable security best practice and systems implementation. While all over the world criminal syndicates have leveraged on the competition between organisation to profiteer from the act of criminality which include the sale of stolen information, sponsorship of espionage and other internet crime with the key source of these information leakages being end users and insiders within these organisations.

FirstBank through its information and cybersecurity implementations which includes its 24/7 state of art Security Operations Centre, Threat intelligence feeds and staff awareness initiatives have continued to build an IS aware staff, third party services providers and contractors. With set service level agreement our stakeholder community choose to do the right thing as regards ethics in a world of technology which the ease and anonymity with which information can be communicated, copied, and manipulated in online environments are constantly challenging traditional rules of right and wrong behaviour. Ethical issues confront individuals (staff and customers) who must choose a course of action, often in a situation in which two or more ethical principles are in conflict and only superior security knowledge of what constitutes security best practice will protect classified information. This can only be achieved through continuous awareness training and implementation of global information security best practices.

Products & Compliance

FirstBank is constantly refining and developing its products and services to offer convenience in line with the changing lifestyles of Customers.

At FirstBank, the journey from product conceptualization to product launch is borne out of our clear understanding of varying customer needs, market dynamics and our deeply rooted culture of compliance to extant regulations. This has sustained our dominance in the financial industry while serving Nigeria for over a century through the colonial, military and democratic governance systems. The operations of the bank are highly regulated by three major regulatory entities; the Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation and Securities & Exchange Commission. We are regulated by similar entities in the subsidiary markets.

‘Compliance’ is viewed as every staff’s responsibility, the Product Managers are regarded as the first line of defense for the protection of customer/bank interest while creating and managing products. Our Compliance team is saddled with the critical responsibility of regulating the Product ecosystem by ensuring that enacted policies and processes are strictly adhered to by stakeholders through the Product lifecycle. These stakeholders playing in the ecosystem include; the product teams, IT, vendors, branches, relationship management teams etc. The Compliance team also functions as a second level check providing comfort to the bank’s management team. Other roles of the compliance team include;

  • Ensuring that products and services are compliant to extant regulations
  • Ensuring product features are reviewed to align with the changes in regulation
  • Ensuring that stakeholders are adequately trained to observe relevant regulatory guidelines in the discharge of their duties such as;
    • KYC (Know Your Customer) requirements
    • Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act
    • Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism
    • Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering requirements etc.

The CBN’s approval is obtained before any product or service is deployed to the market or adjustments and enhancements are made to the features of an existing product. As part of our product enrolment process, the customer’s consent must be obtained before a product is activated or renewed, this could be in digital or written form.​

Our bouquet of Products and services can be summarized as follows;

  • Deposit Liability Products – Savings, Current, Domiciliary, Term Deposit Accounts
  • Asset Products – Digital Lending, Overdrafts, Term & Time Loans, Mortgage, Device & Vehicle, Financing, Agent Credit
  • Card Products – Debit & Prepaid Cards, Credit Cards,
  • Messaging – Transaction alert services, Inquiry services.
  • Digital & Physical Channels – USSD (894 Banking), FirstMobile App, FirstOnline, ATM, POS, QR & Web Acceptance Services
  • Financial Inclusion Products & Services – Agent Banking and Firstmonie Wallet
  • Money Transfer Services
  • Payments & Collections Services

Innovation & Improvement

In terms of innovation and improvement in financial technology, we leverage partnerships with licensed FINTECHs to co-create affordable and compelling products and services, governed by standard SLAs, regulatory framework and data protection policies such as Data Masking, Data Inventory Framework, Security certificates etc.

We also adhere to international best practices whilst conducting our electronic business to ensure the security and protection of customer data and funds. We comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), to optimize the security of cards and cash transactions and protect cardholders against misuse of their personal information. All our ATMs are Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV)-compliant.  Our Digital platforms are fully connected to the National Central Switch (NCS) to ensure interoperability and interconnectivity of the scheme.

Our high sense of responsibility to our stakeholders has equally guided us to deploy resilient and time-tested internal policies and controls, some of which has earned us an enviably reputation as a most compliant institution in all the markets where we operate.

The FirstContact, our helpdesk, is committed to an efficient and prompt response to enquiries and resolution of customer complaints within stipulated timelines. We have also commenced the deployment of self-serviced customer complaint modules on our channels which will soon be available to customers. We believe this will be of great value as self-logged issues will be digitally routed to the respective Product teams for an instant resolution and engagement where applicable.

Though we continually seek innovative ways to efficiently meet the needs of our customers and remain competitive in the industry, compliance remains our topmost priority to ensure the safety and protection of our customers while adopting and using our products and services. This is staying true to our Brand Promise to Customers – “You First”.

See also