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Nigeria’s Banking Industry: Zenith Bank

Zenith Bank is one of Nigeria’s leading financial institutions. It provides a range of financial services to tens of millions of people across the country, the African continent, and elsewhere in the world.

It became fairly popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s for its pioneering role in the adoption of ICT and tech-supported customer interaction and service delivery. Earlier this decade, it claimed a spot among Nigeria’s top-performing commercial banks.

Today, Zenith Bank a multinational institution with assets worth ₦5.9 trillion, employing thousands of staff, and present in hundreds of locations scattered across every Nigerian state.  

The story of Zenith Bank began in 1990, the year in which it was founded. Jim Ovia, now the bank’s chairman, set it up at a time in which the government was opening up the banking sector to significant private sector interests.

It began operations in Lagos on July 1990, at an office fashioned out of a residential building. Its starting capital of $5 million was large by other rules but hardly much by today’s capital base standards. Thanks to the foresight of its founding team, it grew quite rapidly in its first decade, as it seized upon the internet and mobile technology to establish itself as a forward-looking bank.

By the turn of the millennium, the bank’s capital base had exceeded ₦500 billion. An aggressive media and tech-driven campaign in the early 2000s helped raise its revenues so that it began announcing profits comparable to the older dominant Nigerian banks.

Zenith Bank has its shares listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), and on the London Stock Exchange, where they began to be traded in 2013.

The Bank’s Products and Services

Zenith Bank’s customers include individuals, small businesses, and large corporations; their products and services are tailored to meet the specific needs of these groups.

The services offered to individual customers include regular and special bank accounts which can be accessed, and operate with bank cards, mobile USSD codes, and the Zenith bank app. The institution targets small businesses with its SME banking packages, which range from business accounts to loans, import bills and letters of credit. Corporate banking services are available for large companies as well.

The bank has a suite of electronic banking products, some of which have become well known by the banking public. One of them, EazyBanking, lets Zenith bank customers do their banking on the phones with a USSD code. Another, Scan to Pay, makes it possible to pay for products purchased at merchant outlets by scanning a QR code with a smartphone.

Private, corporate, and investment banking, are also available at Zenith Bank, as are treasury and cash management services.

CSR and Awards

Zenith Bank has donated ICT centers, renovated libraries, and supported cancer awareness programs. It has also sponsored some of Nigeria’s sports teams in the past.

In 2012, Zenith Bank was named the best customer-focused bank by audit and market research firm KPMG. In the following year, the Bankers Magazine (published by the Financial Times in London)named Zenith Bank the biggest bank in Nigeria with respect to core capital.

Featured image source: How To Tech Naija

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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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