As Fidelity Bank Eyes Tier-1 Status

Oluchi Chibuzor writes on efforts by the management of Fidelity Bank Plc to attain tier-1 status

When she assumed the position of the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Bank Plc in 2021, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe made it clear that her target was to see the financial institution rise to be among the tier-one banks in the country.

This, she has continued to pursue, despite the dynamic and tough operating landscape when she took over.

Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged commercial bank operating in Nigeria with over 6.5 million customers serviced across its 250 business offices and digital banking channels. Over the years, the bank has developed a reputation for going the extra-mile in servicing its customers. Whether it is through interactions with its online services or staff, people have come to associate it with its delightful experiences.
Fidelity Bank under the current management had listed the seven focus areas critical to achieving its objective of becoming a tier-1 bank to include: accelerated growth, innovation drive, brand refresh, performance discipline, digital transformation, service excellence and workforce transformation.

Under innovation, the bank has been executing fresh ideas to ensure continuous process improvement, reduced cost to serve, increase its competitiveness, improve its brand recognition and value, build new partnerships and relationships and well as increase its profitability.
In terms of its workforce transformation, the bank has been focused on creating a future readily supported by high performing and empowered workforce. This, it believes would be achieved by deepening the skills and competences of staff across the institution, entrenching a culture of high performance and embedding new ways of working in the bank.

Also, it digital transformation aims at driving an end-to-end digitisation across all facets of its business, while its objective is to refresh its brand by increasing top-on-mind awareness of the Fidelity brand.

Under service excellence, the idea is to build brand loyalty through personalised and seamless customer experience delivery; ensuring performance delivery by focusing on strong fundamentals, asset quality and strategic cost management as well as achieve accelerated growth by driving aggressive market penetration and business diversification.
“We are happy to report that we are on-track to meeting our tier-one ambition as reflected in our financial results that have indicated significant growth on key reporting lines quarter-on-quarter,” Onyeali-Ikpe said.

Indeed, the Nigerian banking sector is evolving, with the changes being driven by competition, accelerated adoption of technology and the move by banks to meet the banking lifestyle of an evolving demography.

This has seen a lot of banks, including Fidelity, embrace innovative means to satisfy their customers.
In recognition of the efforts by the bank’s management and at a time when some others were being downgraded, Fitch Ratings, a global rating agency, recently upgraded Fidelity Bank’s long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) from ‘B-’ to ‘B’, reflecting the financial institution’s increased credit-worthiness. The rating agency also upgraded Fidelity’s National Long-Term Rating to ‘A(nga)’ from ‘BBB+(nga)’.

According to the global rating agency, the upgrade was a result of the bank’s improving business profile and resilient financial metrics.
The agency added that the improved rating reflected the bank’s increased creditworthiness relative to other issuers in Nigeria, emphasising that, “Fidelity’s Long- and Short-Term IDRs are driven by its standalone creditworthiness, as expressed by its Viability Rating (VR) of ‘b’ ’’.
The agency further stated that the VR reflects healthy asset quality, good business profile and reasonable capitalisation and liquidity.
These are balanced against high sensitivity to Nigeria’s challenging operating environment as well as higher credit concentration as a percentage of equity and weaker profitability than larger domestic-rated peers.

Commenting on the upgraded rating, Onyeali-Ikpe said: “Receiving this upgrade at a time when the global economy is faced with a myriad of challenges, speaks to the strength of our business model, the efficacy of our risk management culture and the commitment of our staff towards creating sustainable value for all stakeholders.

“As a bank, we will continue to execute our growth strategy in a prudent manner that allows us to take advantage of emerging opportunities in our various markets.”

Fidelity Bank reported a 29.4 per cent increase in gross earnings to N71.332 billion for the first quarter (Q1) 2022, which reflects the level of work that has been done by its current management.
Its unaudited financial statement showed that its profit before tax grew from N10.134 billion in Q1 2021 to N10.324 billion, with profit after tax at N9.515 billion.
Fidelity Bank’s comprehensive income for the period jumped by over 200 per cent from – N9.109 billion to N9.908 billion in Q1 2022. Earnings per share stood at 33 kobo.
Onyeali-Ikpe explained that the bank’s digital banking has gained further traction driven by new initiatives in its retail business and the enhancement of existing digital banking products.

“We now have 56 per cent of our customers enrolled on the mobile/internet banking products and 90 per cent of total customer-induced transactions done on digital platforms with digital banking business contributing 27.6 per cent to net fee income, “she said

Connecting with Customers

The bank has also unveiled various initiatives to connect with its customers as well as to satisfy their lifestyle.
For instance, in commemoration of this year’s Valentine, the bank organised a well-attended event that brought together its customers, students and staff in a convivial atmosphere.
Onyeali-Ikpe, who was represented by the Executive Director, Lagos and South-West Businesses, Dr. Ken Opara, noted that the bank decided to host the event titled: ‘The Euphoria,’ to celebrate its customers and their partners, as it is an institution that puts the customer at the core of its operations.

According to her, “At Fidelity Bank, we strive to provide our customers with unforgettable experiences by offering superior service, innovative solutions, and engaging platforms such as The Euphoria.

“Over the years, Fidelity Bank has built a reputation for going above and beyond in delivering superior customer service. Whether it’s through our online services or interactions with our dedicated employees, people have come to associate us with delightful experiences.
“That is why we created the Euphoria platform to help engage with the younger demographics of our customer base.”
The Euphoria also featured several interesting competitions that saw guests go home with mouth-watering prizes including weekend getaways, dinner dates and other family related prizes.

Following performances from Fave and Chike, the high point of the evening was the exhilarating performance by rave of the moment and Mavins Records artiste, Johnny Drille, which climaxed with a well-choreographed fireworks display that lit up the Oniru and Lekki skies.
Divisional Head, Brands and Communications, Meksley Nwagboh, explained that, “At Fidelity Bank, we are all about creating memorable experiences for our customers by delighting them with superior service delivery, innovative solutions and engagement platforms such as The Euphoria.

“Valentine is known globally as a season of
love and sharing. As a bank which puts her customers at the center of everything we do, this year, we deemed it fit to host them and their partners to an unforgettable experience to celebrate the season.”
Also, in a bid to deepen positive customer experience and create new opportunities for businesses to grow revenue, Fidelity Bank, in collaboration with OnePipe, had launched PayGatePlus, a payment gateway.
PayGatePlus, which is an upgraded version of the legacy PayGate product by the bank, is a payment solution and a comprehensive embedded finance platform that empowers organisations in any sector to integrate financial services within their businesses and offerings.
The payment solution offers services such as web payments, virtual accounts, funds transfer, direct debit, balance inquiry, statement, online collections via NIBSS Instant Payment (NIP), BVN validation, direct credit, and Buy Now, Pay Later.
The bank’s Executive Director/Chief Operations and Information Officer, Stanley Amuchie, explained that innovation was a key pillar of Fidelity Bank’s strategic framework and, “we are constantly looking for new ways of improving our processes and delighting our customers.
“PayGatePlus will open more opportunities for revenue growth for our customers while improving their risk management processes and reduce their cost.”

“Everything we do as a financial organisation including the design of our products and services has the customer as our main focus. It is on this basis that we have worked very hard over the last few months, together with our technical partners, to innovate a solution that enables businesses across different sectors to easily integrate financial services with their product offerings,” he added.
Founder/Chief Executive Officer of OnePipe, Ope Adeoye, said the company was excited to be partnering once again with Fidelity to upgrade the payment gateway.

“Our core at OnePipe is to help businesses and partners achieve maximum operational excellence, deeper customer intimacy and ultimately revenue growth.

“These and more are the opportunities our partnership with Fidelity enables. PayGatePlus essentially provides merchants with the rails to deliver diverse financial services to their customers across a range of platforms namely: website, mobile app, social media and even in-store (in the case of retail outlets),” Adeoye said.

The event featured a panel discussion on the topic: “Embedded Financial Services as a Driver for Seamless Customer Experience”, which featured Chief Executive Officer, Interswitch Group, Akeem Lawal; Founder and CEO, OnePipe, Ope Adeoye; Divisional Head, Fintech and Telecoms, Fidelity Bank Plc, Nwanja Onyekwere; and Founder and CEO, Capricorn Digital Limited, Degbola Abudu.
“At Fidelity Bank, our mission is to make financial services easy and accessible to all our customers; we saw this collaboration as an opportunity to ensure our customers continue to enjoy their financial journey and do some more with all the amazing features of PayGatePlus,” Nwanja Onyekwere stated.

Abudu on his part, described Fidelity Bank as forward-looking and sees the future of payment as one that could only be achieved through collaboration, adding that “this means the bank recognises the importance of new distribution channels to its revenue.”

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