Diamond Bank Eyes National Banking Licence

Obinna Chima
There are strong indications that Diamond Bank Plc will before the end of the year, convert its international banking licence to a national one.

This followed the sale of the bank’s assets outside the country and its resolve to take advantage of the banking opportunities Nigeria’s huge population presents.

A reliable industry source, who disclosed this to THISDAY, said the move would also put the Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) requirement for the bank at 10 per cent.

The CAR for banks in Nigeria stands at 10 per cent and 15 percent for national and international banking licence respectively.

“Diamond Bank is repositioning itself. It is trying to be very conservative with its loan portfolio. The bank has sold its non-core assets because it believes the cost of managing those assets outside the country is not part of its strategy.

“This year, the bank is going to be leaner and from all indications, it will be convert its licence to a national licence because it has sold its international subsidiaries and doesn’t have an international presence any more. That means its CAR will be at 10 per cent as against 15 per cent,” the source explained.

Diamond Bank had in April, signed a share sale and purchase agreement with a member of GFG Alliance, for the disposal of its entire shareholding in its international subsidiary, Diamond Bank (UK) Plc.

The bank had explained that the disposal was in line with its objective of streamlining its operations to focus resources on the significant opportunities in the Nigerian retail banking market.
The transaction followed the bank’s divestment from its West African business, Diamond Bank S.A., which was completed in November 2017.

Specifically, the bank last November sold its operations in Benin, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal to Manzi Finances S.A., a Cote d’Ivoire-based financial services holding company.
Commenting on the transaction, then, Diamond Bank’s CEO Uzoma Dozie had said: “Diamond Bank’s strategic objective is to be the fastest growing, and most profitable technology-driven retail banking franchise in Nigeria.

“This strategic intent requires the bank to optimise the use of its resources which means, where necessary, divesting from its non-core assets, and focusing on the priority area, namely Nigerian retail banking.”
“The bank has laid the foundation for growth in Nigeria with acquisition of over 15 million customers, many of whom are owning bank accounts for the first time.

“The Nigerian market has vast potential due to its strong fundamentals, including millions of people who are either underbanked or unbanked, and changing lifestyles that favour the use of mobile devices to complete multiple financial transactions at the consumer’s convenience.
“This is also underpinned by significant economic potential driven by an entrepreneurial spirit, and a growing culture of innovation.

“Moreover, by harnessing technology and fostering a digitally led approach, the bank will have further positive impact on the overall development of the financial system, and the Nigerian economy in general,” he added.
Dozie also revealed that Diamond Bank made good progress in executing its technology-led retail banking strategy in 2017.
According to him, the bank increased its market share in 2017 and drove scale through a combination of technology and expansion of our services across additional platforms.

“For instance, we made additional inroads to the unbanked and underbanked populations with the support of our international partners. In addition, the rapid rollout of products and services for entrepreneurs, and small and medium business owners gained significant traction and is a trend that is set to continue,” it added.

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