….Pledges to exceed stakeholders’ expectation in 2017
Despite increased attention and support for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, (SMEs) by banks and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), most operators in the SMEs sub-sector still believe that the banking industry is not favourably disposed to the sub-sector.
This is even as investigation by Daily Champion shows that Diamond Bank Plc is among the nation’s leading banks bridging this gap with its fervent support to the sector and the partnership with Microsoft which sources said is giving SMEs in Nigeria a major lift. The Bank had consistently maintained that the partnership would see SMEs empowered with its Diamond Mobile Point of Sales (MPoS) terminals across the country.
However, recent report shows that the opportunities in financing Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria are enormous, considering that there are over 37 million of them present in every sector. It is against this backdrop that the Nigerian banks, are complying with the CBN directives on SMEs funding to set aside 5 per cent of their annual after tax profit in support of a scheme that finances agro- based SMEs in the country.
The SMEs are globally acknowledged as the oil required to lubricate the engine of socio- economic transformation of any nation while it is strategically positioned to absorb up to 84.02per cent of the total labour force, contributing massively to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), increase value addition to raw materials supply, improve export earnings and boost capacity utilization in key industries.
Following its importance towards economic growth, Diamond Bank, over the years have played significant role to ensure effective growth of this sector which has provided jobs to many, especially the young ones, not minding the harsh businesses environment presently witnessed in the country.
Apart from the conventional support to SMEs, the Bank had last year sealed a new partnership with Microsoft geared towards getting SMEs to move online, which the Bank said is the next level of business, and to learn how to maximize the use of their computers to improve business efficiency.
According to the Bank, delivering an enhanced customer experience is fundamental to its proposition, while it aims at supporting her customers via tailored services, such as Diamond Woman, to enable them manage their lives seamlessly whether on-the-go or in branch, while assuring numerous customers that it aims at going ‘Beyond Banking’, adding that the customer remains the key differentiating factor in providing this unique customer experience across all markets where the Bank operates.
The Bank further pledged to scale up funding of SME business in Nigeria in the next one year, by providing the right technology tools that will empower Nigerian businesses in today’s digital world.
Head, Emerging Business, Diamond Bank, Njideka Esomeju, while giving insight on Diamond MPoS, recently in an interview with newsmen said the solution would enhance business productivity among SMEs in the country.
“We need to get SMEs to move online, which is the next level of business and to learn how to maximize the use of their computers to improve their business efficiency. At Diamond Bank, our slogan is ‘Beyond Banking’ and we have fully gone beyond the initial ways where customers had to go into the banking hall to deposit, withdraw or transact some forms of businesses. We have introduced solutions that empower small businesses to move to the next level, which is about leveraging technology for business efficiency.
“Some of our recent products include the Diamond Mobile Point of Sales (MPoS), which assists SMEs in doing their business seamlessly. The Diamond MPoS could be operated offline and online, with and without connectivity. If there is difficulty in Internet connectivity, our MPoS will only record the transaction, store it and effect it when connectivity is restored, and there is no limit to the daily amount of financial transactions that could be carried out by SMEs on the Diamond MPoS.
“We are partnering Microsoft on its Office 365 small business solution to boost SME business. The Microsoft solution will enhance communication among SME staff. We are also partnering Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) because they also support SMEs”, Esomeju said.
Explaining how the solution could be used, Gideon Akpebu said “The Diamond MPoS is a smart reader that works with mobile phones. It is unique because it differs from other Point of Sales (PoS) in terms of size, as it comes very handy, and can accept payment for business transactions from any part of the country and at any time. It takes record of daily transactions and issues receipt for each transaction.
According to him, all that the SMEs need do is to download the app from Play Store, pair it with a mobile phone via Bluetooth and activate it for usage.
Marketing and Communications Lead, Microsoft Nigeria, Edmond Idokoko, while speaking on the value that Microsoft brings to SMEs, explained that Microsoft mantra is to enable individuals and organizations achieve more in the business by leveraging Microsoft technology solutions.
“We are bringing value to SMEs by collaborating with Diamond Bank on SME growth. For instance we are offering our Office 365 technology solution free of charge to SMEs for a period of six months, after which the SME can begin monthly subscription on the solution. We are using Nigeria as a pilot market, from where we will move to other regions and countries to also support SMEs.
Investigation by our correspondent further reveals that the Bank serves over 150,000 businesses of varying size across diverse sectors including corporate clients as well as Micro Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) for which it provides value-adding banking solutions.
Also, the Bank has a retail-led strategy, an indication that it is well placed to benefit from Nigeria’s attractive fundamental macro-economic trends, particularly in the retail market and a strong corporate banking offering that is helping to fuel growth across Nigeria through supporting businesses, redefining the country’s 21st century economy.
There is an expectation in the market that all banks must finance MSMEs and banks are businesses with profit expectations from shareholders, therefore will finance businesses that will satisfy that objective.
In a recent interview with Daily Champion, National President, Association of Micro Entrepreneurs of Nigeria (AMEN), Prince Saviour Iche said that Diamond Bank had been friendly with micro entrepreneurs, while calling for more partnership between the banks and SMEs in the country.
He said, Diamond Bank, over a few years now has been SMEs friendly and we appreciated that. “We want them to do more in supporting small businesses in Nigeria”.
Also speaking, National President, Constance Shareholders Association, Alhaji Shehu Mikail said, “ I believe that Diamond Bank happens to be one of the banks trying to get their bearing because of series of things happening in the nation’s financial services sector, which is making customers to think otherwise. But in spite of all these challenges, the Bank is still maintaining their stand in the sector.
“With the new board of directors in place and with the plans being put in place, it is believed that the Bank would meet the expectations of shareholders. We expect that all the outstanding loans should be visited and proactive actions taken to recover the loans since this is one of the problems facing the banks. I believe that with the new plans they would beat shareholders expectations at the end of the 2017 financial year”, he said.
Chief Executive Officer of the Diamond Bank, Mr. Uzoma Dozie, maintained that the Bank’s stable growth and continued success in spite of the harsh economic headwinds, is hinged on implementing retail and digital-led strategies that are primed to promote sustainable growth and profitability in the long term.
Although Diamond Bank has continued to grow its corporate and mid-tier business segments, the bank’s CEO maintained that its focus remains on retail banking and providing convenient and easy banking to the MSME segment, adding that the concept of value chain management and the deployment of digital strategies will help provide end-to-end solution and ultimately improve value for the Bank and the customers.
“As we move into 2017, the fundamentals of the Bank remain very strong and it continues to generate operating profits that are comparable to any of its peers, as evidenced by the 2016 financial results. However, although not unique to Diamond, impairments in the Bank’s loan portfolio continue to impact financial performance.
Diamond Bank Plc began as a private limited liability company on March 21, 1991 though the company was incorporated on December 20, 1990). Ten years later, in February 2001, it became a universal bank.
In January 2005, following a highly successful Private Placement share offer which substantially raised the Bank’s equity base, Diamond Bank became a public limited company. In May 2005, the bank was listed on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). Since its incorporation in December 1990, Diamond Bank has challenged the market environment positively by introducing new products, innovative technology and setting new benchmarks through international standards.
Today, Diamond Bank is best placed to respond to changing lifestyles and is leading the digital transformation in response to these societal shifts. For example, Diamond Mobile is Africa’s leading banking app and the first with touch ID.
With a primary listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and GDRs on the London Stock Exchange, Diamond Bank’s footprint extends beyond Nigeria, with a strong presence in the Republic of Benin and branches in Senegal, Togo and Ivory Coast, making it the first Nigerian bank to operate in Francophone West Africa. The Bank launched its first non-African subsidiary, Diamond Bank, UK –in 2013. As at January 2016, the Bank operated 271 branches across Nigeria and 317 across the Group.
Diamond Bank has frequently been the partner of choice for leading international organizations such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID), in order to deliver programmes targeting MSMEs and to promote financial inclusion.
The Carlyle Group, the global alternative asset manager, became a significant shareholder in November 2014 following its $147million investment in the bank. This was a major milestone for Diamond Bank and a sign of confidence in the Bank’s strategy and market opportunity.
Earlier this year, the bank said it has recorded two significant milestones in its digital banking drive with the signing up of record two million subscribers each on its flagship mobile banking app, Diamond Mobile app, and its Diamond Y’ello account.
A statement by Robert Giles, Head, Retail Banking Businesses, attributed the record milestones to the bank’s digital innovation and quest to provide customers with convenient banking services.
He said, “In January 2016, we recorded the one millionth Diamond Mobile app customer having launched the app a few years earlier. We are delighted that we were able to double that number in only one year. This is an affirmation of the trust our valued customers have in our products and services, and we pledge to continuously provide cutting edge services to them.”
Specifically designed for the teeming un-banked and under-banked segment, the Diamond Y’ello account allows our customers perform a wide range of banking transactions from their MTN phones without data or Wi-Fi connection.
The account has helped us achieve our customer-base growth target in three years, a goal that previously took us ten years to achieve, Giles stated.
“This further underscores our focus on executing our digital transformation strategy by going beyond banking to meet our customers’ varying needs,” he added.
He explained that the Diamond Mobile app allows the bank’s customers to carry out a wide range of banking transactions from their Diamond Bank accounts including bills payment, flight ticket bookings, eSUSU (joint savings club), funds transfers, among others.
“Beyond growing the numbers of subscribers, we are focused on enhancing the customer experience on these platforms. So, our valued customers should expect more exciting features as we go all out to provide them with convenient banking services”, he stated.
Diamond Bank Plc is Nigeria’s fastest growing retail bank, leveraging innovation and technology to enhance customer experiences and drive financial inclusion in what it terms Beyond Banking. Since incorporation in December 1990, Diamond Bank has challenged the market environment by introducing new products, innovative technology and setting new benchmarks through international standards.