The Heritage of FIRSTS – A feature on FirstBank of Nigeria Limited

The Heritage of FIRSTS – A feature on First Bank of Nigeria Limited

It is indisputably Nigeria’s strongest banking franchise with 125 years of unbroken banking operations. Nigeria’s foremost financial institution, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, has continued to Innovate and transform itself with revolutionary efforts in the deployment of digital technology to the delight of its diverse customers and other stakeholders which cut across all segments and sectors of the Nigerian economy.
This is the story of the First Bank Nigeria Limited pioneering legacies in the transformation of the Nigeria’s Finance Industry in its 125 years of dependable services to its customers, investors, host communities, employees and other stakeholders. 

In 1984, when Sir Alfred Lewis Jones, a shipping magnate opened the first-of-its-kind British Bank of West Africa (BBWA) in Marina, Lagos. With a paid-up-capital of GBP12,000. Little did he know he was laying the foundation of a Bank that will be in the frontline of digital transformation through ground-breaking efforts to the delight of all its stakeholders.  

In Financing, as far back as 1947, in demonstration of the Banks commitment to national development. First Bank gave the first Long-Term loan to the then colonial government. And partnered with the same government in 1955 to expand the Railway lines across the country in other to deepen commerce and increase distribution channels through provision of infrastructure.
And immediately after Nigeria’s independence, First Bank gave first ever Consumer Loans to the citizens of independent Nigeria in other to economically empower Nigerians to strengthen their contribution to the national economy.

In 2006, the Bank revolutionize Consumer and Retail banking product offerings in Nigeria with the introduction of a comprehensive and easily accessible suits of products, code-named U-First. Now You-First, runs on a pioneered (First in Africa) innovative Credit Administration software called Finnone. Today, You-First range of offerings remains the most popular Consumer and Retail Loan products in Nigeria with billions of loans granted to several million customers.

In business, First Bank has since inception has taken the lead in business with the first recorded merger and acquisition when the then BBWA acquired its competitor, Anglo-African Bank in 1912. And in 1971 after it changed its name to Standard Bank of Nigeria, the Bank became the first financial institution to be listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) to allow Nigerians to buy or own a part of the its heritage.
When in 1979 the Bank changed its name to First Bank of Nigeria, it was again the first ever rebranding in the history of Nigeria. The London branch of First Bank was established 1982 to foster international banking relation for Nigerian and foreign businesses alike.

In 2007, when First Bank was at the NSE with “The Big One”, the Bank’s N100 billion Hybrid Offer was oversubscribed by 755%. Making the Bank the first ever company to so accomplish that feat, and the following year First Bank became the first Nigerian Bank and indeed the first listed company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange to hit N2trillion market capitalization.

FBN Life Assurance, a subsidiary of FBN Holdings, was listed among top 10 specialty life insurance industry within 2 years of operations in 2012. And in 2013, another subsidiary of the Bank, FBN Capital, now FBN Quest launched the first Purchasing Manager Index (PMI). The PMI added Nigeria to the list of countries that uses the economic indicator to gauge the temperature of the sector on a monthly basis.

FBN Quest again in 2013 becomes the first financial institution to achieve loan signing with the conclusion of power sector privatization initiative and its leading role set the template for power deals subsequently closed by other institutions.

First Bank have been in the forefront of Financial Inclusion long before it became a monetary policy direction of the CBN. With the provision of convenient banking to all Nigerians irrespective of their locations in the country. And before the amalgamation in 1914, First Bank had branches in what would today be called Kano, Zaria, Calabar, Lagos and Ibadan.

By 1963, the Bank have over 114 branches across west Africa. A feat still to be matched by most Banks. Today FirstBank has 731 business locations powered online real-time and spreads across the nook and crannies of Nigeria.


In furtherance of the Bank’s effort at promoting Financial Inclusion and bringing banking to all Nigerians irrespective of location. First Bank currently has over 20,000 agencies (about 74% of total Bank Agents in Nigeria), located in every local government in the country. First Bank agents has processed over N1 trillion transactions as at end of April 2019.

In Digital transformation and Security. The Bank, in 2010, was the first organization in Nigeria to be granted notable International Standardization Certification by the International Standard Organization (ISO): The prestigious Information Security Management System (ISMC), world highest accreditation for information protection and security and the Business Continuity Management System Certification.
As part of the Bank’s investment in technology and banking round the clock and in its tradition of pioneering innovation in the Banking industry. First Bank introduced the first ATM in Nigeria in 1991, and further introduced the Biometric ATM and the first Cash Deposit ATM in 2011. And today the bank has about 3,000 ATMs in different locations across Nigeria.

The Bank is also in the forefront of deploying alternative banking channels to assist its customers have access to banking services online, offline, anywhere and anytime. First Bank is among the first Banks to launch the WhatsApp banking alongside its Firstmobile, Firstonline and USSD platforms. First Bank’s 894 USSD Quick Banking Channel achieved another first with a milestone of over 7.5 million subscribers as at end of April 2019.

It is however not surprising to industry watchers that in 2017, First Bank achieved the fastest Mobile Banking penetration in Africa with over 6 million Digital Banking users, and again the second bank in Africa to issue 10 million cards to its customers. Also, in same year, First Bank became the first indigenous organization in Nigeria to launch its Human Resources Solution in the Cloud.

And in 2018 the Bank was adjudged by Interswitch as being responsible for the processing of over N1.6 billion annually. About 33% of transactions on electronics banking channels in the industry.

In Corporate Social Responsibility, no private institution anywhere in the world can boost of a longer standing Sport-Sponsorship than First Bank. The Bank’s partnership with Georgian cup of Kaduna international Polo Tournament has been on for 100 consecutive years.
In demonstration of its commitment to technological innovations, the Bank launched the first Digital Innovation Lab in Nigeria in 2018. Among many other of its sponsorship events aimed at youth development.

Awards – The First Bank giant strikes in Technological Innovation in the financial industry in Nigeria did not go unnoticed. Its has been recognized with numerous local and international awards. Some of which are:
“Most Innovative Bank in Africa” by the African Banker in 2011, in attestation to the Bank’s forward-thinking approach.
“First financial institution in Nigeria to achieve 100 million sustained monthly transactions in Electronic Payment” in December 2015 and again in May 2016. Interswitch.
“Most valuable banking brand” for the 6th consecutive times in 2017 by The Banker Magazine of the Financial Times.
“Digital Bank of Distinction, Nigeria” award by the Global Finance magazine for the 2nd consecutive time in 2017.
´Best Retail Bank in Nigeria” for the 7th consecutive time by the renowned Asian Banker Awards in 2018.
“The Best Bank in Nigeria” for the 15th time by the Global Finance Magazine. Also, in 2018.
First Bank continues to seek-out ways of improving its products offering using innovative digital technology. In the words of the First Bank CEO, Dr. Olusola Adeduntan. “The Bank is focusing on the feelings and behavior with the aim of providing real value for the customer so as to have a positive impact with the products and the services provided to its customers”

Culled from Nigerian Banker


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