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Nigeria Ecobank moves focus to digital banking, folds 74 branches

In recent time, Nigeria's banking sector has witnessed massive migration of most of its products and services to digital platforms which threatens jobs of most workers in the sector.

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Ecobank Ditigal Branch play

Ecobank Ditigal Branch

(New African Magazine)

The current economic crunch in Nigeria is taking tolls on many banks in Nigeria, as Ecobank Nigeria Limited announced the shutdown of 74 of its 479 branches to switch to digital banking channels.

Many commercial banks since the beginning of the year have embarked on various cost reduction strategies which led to retrenchment of workers in high numbers. In this year alone, over 1200 banks workers have been sent back to unemployment market by various commercials banks in Nigeria.

Commenting on the development at Ecobank, the Group Managing Director, Mr. Charles Kie, in an emailed document said the move was part of the bank’s transformation agenda which is meant to create a fundamental shift of its banking activities to digital channels, as well as improve customers’ experience, while also reducing the cost of serving them.

“After a detailed analysis of the physical network of branches needed to serve our customers, the decision was made by the Ecobank Nigeria board, and approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria, to optimise 74 out of its 479 branches.”

Furthermore, Charles Kie also noted that the move is to supports the bank’s financial inclusion strategy and the cashless policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria. In the same vein, he allays the fear of retrenchment with a promise that the action would have minimal effects on the workers.

“This strategy, the bank has enhanced its Retail Internet Banking platform with much speed and flexibility. Also the Ecobank Mobile App that enables customers does instant payments; open accounts, as well as do instant transfers across 33 countries in Africa.”

“We are deploying staff and other resources from the merged branches to other ongoing projects, while also strengthening the existing branches to make them more resourceful and up to speed in their daily activities,” he added.

He reiterated that this is a well thought through decision expected to fundamentally shape Ecobank’s business for better performance.

The bank results for the first quarter of 2017 showed N18.7 billion profit after tax, which was 15 percent higher than the N16.2 billion it declared in Q1 2016.

Mr Ade Ayeyemi, the bank’s Group Chief Executive Officer in a statement explained:“Our performance in the first quarter was encouraging despite continued macroeconomic headwinds.

“Our first quarter revenues of $425 million (N130 billion), increased three per cent in constant dollars, while operating expenses were flat, year-on-year.”

Adeyemi further revealed that Ecobank made meaningful progress in its strategy, which focuses on cost discipline, stringent credit risk practices, and digitization of processes to enhance the customer experience.

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