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At Polaris Bank, we are Positioning for Digital leadership and Market Dominance, Says CEO, Adekunle Sonola

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Polaris Bank CEO – Adekunle Sonola


Leading digital financial institution, Polaris Bank has assured its customers, financial sector stakeholders, and regulators that the Bank passed its road to recovery years back.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO), of the financial institution, Adekunle Sonola, stated this in a recent interview, with PROSHAREs team of analysts noting that the Bank is currently on the growth path leading to market dominance.
According to him, careful rethinking and re-strategizing corporate plans creates the bedrock of competitive burst and business sustainability, both attributes that Polaris Bank has focused on in the last few years, working with professional bodies such as PwC, Ernst & Young (E&Y), and KPMG across several corporate verticals. “The bank has travelled past the recovery road years back; it is currently on the growth road leading to market dominance.


“Adequate capitalization is a key measure of financial health, providing comfort to depositors and affording balance sheet and business growth. The bank is presently adequately capitalized, operating well above the 10% minimum requirement for National Banks. Nonetheless, we are concluding arrangements to inject Tier II capital into the Balance Sheet to support our growth aspirations. Our shareholders are ready and willing to inject Tier I capital into the books. Having instituted best-in-class risk management practices, and maintaining adequate capitalization to support our growth objectives is not one of the bank’s immediate challenges and will not be in the foreseeable future. The new owners are committed to providing necessary support towards building a strong and resilient financial position to underwrite transactional activities of the Bank for sustainable value creation,” Sonola assured.

Confirming that the Bank now operates a two-prong ideology of controlling the funding cost and growing earning assets at economic pricing, the Polaris Bank boss noted that earning asset growth is something the Bank is driving at from both the investment and risk asset sides of the business.
“The Bank has consistently been growing its asset base year-on-year (Y-o-Y). The Bank’s recently developed strategic plan will guide the Bank to a position of being a major challenger of Tier 1 banks and be the leader among Tier II banks along all the key performance parameters. Furthermore, the bank’s focus is to be one of the most efficient deposit money institutions in the industry, delivering superior value to its stakeholders, our competition is not of size, but value creation.


“We have revamped our go-to-market structure, broadening our customer base, fine-tuning our product, and supporting service offerings, strengthening personnel sales capacities, and improving our loan onboarding processes. We are very confident our Net interest income and margin will witness considerable growth as our strategies mature.”
Clarifying that cost control is a critical part of the Bank’s tactical and strategic roadmap, Polaris Bank Managing Director said its short-term tactics come from its longer-term strategies, adding that at the tactical level, the Bank is strengthening digital deliveries, and upgrading the capabilities and offerings on Digital Bank, Vulte, for an even more intensive and intuitive experience across customer journeys.


Polaris Bank has also improved its digital play, as reflected in the improvement of technological interfaces that feed into the customer’s journey expectations and experiences.
“We intend to build a dominant digitally led retail franchise and continue to reshape the bank’s business processes and support technology to continuously improve enterprise agility. The key thing is to drive top-notch processes and build agility in customer responsiveness.
“The VULTE product is just one of our service offerings. Indeed, we are creating a digital service reality that is customer service-focused. The technology driving this will scale digital service delivery to enhance our customers’ product or service experiences as we front-load features that fit into their expectations and future possible journey outcomes. As financial service platforms get better and continue to be an enabler, a part of the fabric of our modern economy, we will be an integral part of the way people carry out their businesses and we will make their digital journeys an integrated friendly experience. One cannot talk too much about this, but the tea leaves are pointing to a fresh pathway to consumer banking satisfaction.”
Other areas of positive growth in the Bank include the creation of a more powerful customer service experience via improved staff productivity with the best of Polaris Bank staffers driving the process having gone through upskilling and retraining programmes. This ensures we are driving a productivity-sensitive framework that marries staff effort with measurable business contributions.
“We have zeroed in on offering superior customer experience as a competitive tool. The new world of competitiveness requires that corporations are agile and flexible, we are building this into the bank’s operational DNA. Our customer journey experiences have been deconstructed across demographics and the service propositions will soon grace banking halls in the next eighteen months at the latest.
“We plan for a stronger balance sheet, with higher loan quality, greater liquidity, larger capital, and resilience to absorb economic shocks. Our loan asset quality has improved significantly, thereby improving liquidity, earnings, and the bank’s capital. We are primed to improve our cost-to-income ratio (CIR), Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR), and Cost-of-Risk ratio (CoR). In the recent past, we saw bumps in the risk area with CoR higher than we would like, but more recently risk quality has improved leading to lower CoR.”
With a focus on customer-centricity, risk management, cost optimization, and technological advancements, Polaris Bank is seen as positioning itself as a major player in the industry, offering superior customer experiences and driving financial performance.
The Bank has been decorated as Nigeria’s Digital Bank of the Year in two successive years; it aims to position itself as a dominant digitally-led retail franchise, delivering superior value to stakeholders.

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Interswitch Kicks Off InterswitchSPAK Nigeria 6.0: Calls for Registration, Doubles Value of Winnings

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Interswitch, Africa’s leading digital payment and commerce company, has announced the commencement of the sixth edition of its annual National Science Competition, InterswitchSPAK, in Nigeria with a significant boost in prize monies and added incentives for more participants, as the company doubles-down on its long-term support for STEM advancement across Africa. The competition, a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative of the Interswitch Group, now in its 6th edition in Nigeria (and 5th edition in Kenya, where it also runs) aims to foster interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects among senior secondary school students across the country. Schools in Nigeria can now register up to twenty (20) SS2 Science Students each, marking an unprecedented scale of participation. Registration for students will be open until May 10th, 2024, and it is free of charge to all applicants. The qualifying examination is conducted entirely online, allowing candidates to take it from the comfort of their school, home, or any convenient location. The Computer Based Test (CBT) exams are scheduled to hold from Tuesday, May 14th, to Saturday, May 18th, 2024, from 8 am to 6 pm daily. Participants have the flexibility to choose the most suitable day, time, and venue for their exam, with two trials available. Following the online qualifying examination, the top 81 students will proceed to the semi-finals and finals to compete for the coveted title of Nigeria’s Best STEM Student. This year’s edition, with a prize pool of over 30 million Naira, marks a 140% increase from the erstwhile 12.5 million Naira in prize winnings, demonstrating Interswitch’s unflinching commitment to educational development by doubling cash prizes for winners. The first prize winner will receive N15 million tertiary scholarship spread over 5 years, a laptop, and monthly stipends. The second-place winner gets N10 million spread over 3 years and a laptop, while the third-place winner will get N5 million for 1 year. In addition to the top three prizes, cash rewards are also available for the participants who secure the 4th to 9th positions. Furthermore, the top 18 semi-finalists will also receive cash prizes. The competition also recognizes the contributions of teachers and offers cash rewards for the top 27 contributing teachers. Interswitch will also purchase JAMB e-PINS for the top 200 preliminary qualifiers to enable them register for the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examinations free of charge. Speaking on this year’s edition of the competition, Cherry Eromosele, Executive Vice President & Group Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Interswitch Group said “We are excited to kick off another edition of InterswitchSPAK, the 6th in the series in Nigeria, and this year promises to be bigger and better than ever before. By doubling the prize pool and expanding opportunities, we are not only investing in the winners but also in the entire ecosystem of STEM education. We are thrilled to see the impact this initiative has had over the last 5 editions and look forward to witnessing the brilliance and innovation of Nigeria’s young minds in this year’s competition”. The last edition saw Abraham Daramola, a student of Hallmark Secondary School, Ondo State, emerge as the winner, while the duo of Emmanuel Omoegbeleghan from The Crescent International School, Ogun State, and Emmanuel Angelo-Hyuwa from The Ambassadors College, Ogun State, came second and third, respectively. Secondary schools are hereby advised to visit the InterswitchSPAK portal to register their best science students in Senior Secondary 2 (SS2) for the competition. All eligible students and schools are encouraged to visit the website, www.interswitchspak.com, for more details on how to participate in the competition.

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Ecobank MySME Growth Series: Proper Packaging and Basic Certification are Critical for SME Exports, Says Expert

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Lagos, April 9, 2024 – Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria have great potentials and opportunities to earn foreign exchange (forex) if their products are well branded and packaged to meet international standards. Managing Director/Chief Executive, Export and Sell Limited, Nduka Udeh made this submission in his presentation titled: Earning FX By Exporting to USA and Canada, delivered at the Ecobank MySME Growth Series webinar. He stated that it was important for exporters of SME products to take into consideration the nature of their products while packaging and making shipping arrangements as well as an effective use of multi sale channels in US and Canada. According to him, many foreign markets particularly, United States and Canada are interested in Nigerian products and the SMEs can gain greater penetration in these markets that have huge potential but sadly most of their products are often rejected because they are not properly packaged and lacked necessary certifications. “SME products from Nigeria have great potentials in the export market. However, over 70% of food products are held at entry points because exporters don’t pay attention to packaging, local licensing and certifications needed to meet US specifications. The right process can save you so much. Exporters should pay attention to products that would give them maximum profitability, low shipping costs and effective distribution channels. It is important for them to be familiar with the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)”, He said. Mr. Udeh who is also Chairman of African Import Export Solution, Houston, Atlanta, US advised exporters to explore the opportunities provided by Ecobank and his firm to train and support them on how to navigate the export market, adding that their products are in high demand, and they stand the chance to earn huge foreign exchange. Ecobank MySME Growth Series which started in February this year is designed to empower SME operators across the country. It is part of the bank’s commitment to train over 1 million SME operators in various sectors of the economy in 2024. The training will provide resources for starting a business, registration processes, industry statistics, and essential considerations for running a business. The series cover key topics such as accounting, credit, sales & marketing, taxation, and inventory management. Additionally, articles on key topics like increasing sales, advertising ideas, business management practices, case studies, and leveraging technology will be provided. Ecobank also plans to launch an SME Mentorship program to collaborate with successful entrepreneurs. Taken together, the MySME Growth Series reflects Ecobank’s dedication to fostering growth and success within the SME community.

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Interswitch Champions Digital Transformation for the Energy Sector

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Africa’s leading digital payment and commerce company, Interswitch, has said it is pertinent for oil and gas businesses to leverage digital solutions to drive the growth and sustainability of the energy sector. The company made this known at the first edition of the Interswitch Energy Summit, held at the Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos. At the summit, representatives of oil and gas companies and other stakeholders were introduced to innovative solutions designed by Interswitch Energy and informed of their robust benefits. The Interswitch Energy Summit, themed “Harnessing Digital Transformation in the Energy Sector’, provided insights, strategies, and robust opportunities for oil and gas businesses to thrive. During the event, Interswitch unveiled two new products designed to address prevailing issues within the Energy sector, enhance business development, and drive growth.

The products include Forecourt Operations and Wet Stock management solutions. Forecourt Automation and Wet Stock Management products focus on automating and optimizing wet stock operations, empowering oil and gas companies with enhanced capabilities for inventory management, sales tracking, and payment processing. The products will allow fuel station management to expand its network of retail stations and establish strategic partnerships with Oil Majors, thereby driving operational efficiency and profitability. Delivering her opening remark, Chinyere Don-Okhuofu, Managing Director, Industry Ecosystems (Interswitch Indeco), said, “For decades, the Interswitch Group has been a beacon of innovation, spearheading digital transformation initiatives across the African continent. Interswitch Energy stands as a testament to our unwavering commitment to driving positive change and fostering prosperity on a nationwide scale.” She further said, “With the introduction of our groundbreaking Forecourt Automation & Wet Stock Management solutions, we not only unveil products but usher in a new era of transformative growth. These innovations are more than mere tools; they are enablers of change, empowering enterprises within the energy sector with unprecedented capabilities to navigate the complexities of the modern energy landscape with agility and foresight.” In his Keynote address, Prof. Joseph Ezigbo, Managing Director of Falcon Corporation Ltd, emphasized the need for energy companies to allocate resources for digitization initiatives accordingly to drive innovation and efficiency in the sector. The event also featured a panel session, in which the panelists discussed how oil and gas businesses can leverage cutting-edge solutions to address the challenges in the energy sector. The Interswitch Energy summit marks a pivotal moment in the journey towards a digitally empowered energy industry. Interswitch is committed to creating channels and platforms to foster innovation and drive positive change in the energy sector.

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