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Nigeria’s Banking Industry: Polaris Bank

Polaris Bank is one of Nigeria’s most recently founded financial institutions. Established by the CBN in 2018, it provides financial services to millions of people and businesses in the country, through its many offices, ATM outlets, a mobile app, and on the internet.

The company was actually founded as a ‘bridge bank’ to manage the assets and business of an older defunct bank, Skye Bank. In the months since it began playing this role, it has won the trust of numerous customers and convinced many clients of the previously existing bank to stick with it.

But the staff and management at Polaris are keen on cutting a new brand image for their organization. They want it to be more than just a ‘bridge’, but a destination where valuable real retail, corporate and investment banking operations happen.

History of Polaris Bank

Prudent Bank, as the institution was first known, was founded in 1989. It carried on until 2006 when a tightening of banking rules and requirements led to its merger with four other banks. The resulting entity was Skye Bank.

In 2011, Skye Bank purchased Mainstreet Bank, and significantly expanded its reach. However, it ran into difficulties when economic conditions worsened a few years later. In 2018, the Central Bank intervened by setting up Polaris Bank to take over its assets and operations.

Recent counts put the number of branches run by Polaris Bank at over 350, with a several thousand employees staffing those locations.

Products and Services

Individuals can open an account with Polaris Bank with as little as ₦1,000. With a regular account in place, they will be eligible to request for loans, use bank card services, carry out banking transactions on the internet or with mobile apps and USSD, and get quality advisory services. The bank’s forms can be downloaded on its website.

Polaris offers its corporate clients structured financing for export and other business dealings. Letters of credit, bills for collection, Form M processing, and forex for international trade are all available to its large scale company customers. Project finance, domiciliary products, and risk sharing are some of the other benefits that the bank promises.

Small businesses can get loans from Polaris Bank as well. The bank actively provides assets financing, payroll loans, working capital, and funds for long term expansion. Loans of up to ₦10 million are deliverable to schools under its Polaris School Advantage. Other loans may be obtained through its fast track platform.

Other Engagements

Polaris Bank has developed a special interest in educating school-aged children about managing finances. Its financial literacy campaigns have taken it to over 180 schools, in which over 80,000 students have been reached. Those schools have also received educational materials from the bank.

It has also partnered with healthcare NGOs to push for greater awareness about breast cancer among women. Thus far, the bank’s work in this area has helped over 150,000 women get free cancer screening.

Some of its aid has gone to internally displaced persons in different parts of Nigeria, with relief material worth millions of naira distributed till date.

Featured image source: Polaris Bank

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Ikenna Nwachukwu

Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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