Stay ALAT: Wema Bank has you covered!

The world has had to come to a stand still for many industries and individuals. Routines that had until now been seamless, and seemed irreplaceable have had to be viewed differently. A global pandemic has that humbling effect.

While a decent portion of the global economy reels under the weight of a fast-spreading deadly disease that threatens the old order of things, many of these affected industries are having to reimagine how they do business at a time when human interaction, the base that holds our modern lives up and running, has had to reduce, if not halt entirely.

Businesses are falling back on existing digital platforms, and the ones that lack those are frantically putting together a semblance of one in order to maintain service provision as an increasing swathe of the world is forced into physical distancing, a measure necessary to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The toll

The first case of the novel coronavirus was reported in Wuhan, China, in late December, 2019. Since then, the virus is now known to have infected roughly 2.1 million people around the world and killed more than 141,000 of them. It has also spread to at least 185 countries and regions around the world in just four months.

Nigeria reported its index coronavirus case on February 27, 2020. In the time since, 600 confirmed cases have been documented, with 20 fatalities and 180 recoveries. Some of the country’s major cities have had to go on total lockdown, in a bid to halt new infections. This means tens of millions of Nigerians are forced to stay indoors for the collective good of all. The question is, what does this entail for an emerging economy that at its core appears to be dependent on everyday human interaction?

Staying at home will in fact help save your life, and that of others, but staying at home does not do everything that needs to be done. Such as pay the bills, which would not stop coming because you are forced to be on lockdown. We are forced in these times to reimagine life itself; how we buy food, how we pay bills, how we complete essential transactions, and also how we maintain a social connection with friends and loved ones, while we steer clear of all physical contact. This is where ALAT By Wema comes in!

Stay ALAT

When Wema Bank introduced its digital banking platform, ALAT, in 2017 and touted it Nigeria’s first fully functional digital bank, it was no premonition of a time like this. The bank was being innovative in the way any institute would that is concerned about the satisfaction of its customers above all else.

ALAT is built from scratch to be entirely digital, making all banking services available to you anywhere you can access the internet. In comparison, a banking app only offers some banking services (typically airtime purchases, bill payments and transfers). With a banking app, you usually still need to go to a

physical bank to get a debit card and activate it, submit documents and often, to get some kinds of customer support, not so with ALAT.

You can stay home, and stay safe, while keeping your financial life active in every way with ALAT.

Being the hero made easy

A lot of the discomfort of staying at home in these difficult times comes from the anxiety of uncertainty. ‘How do I do so and so?’ is a frightening question at any point in time, but especially when ‘so and so’ are essential everyday things that don’t require much thought put into them. Like going to the bank to make a deposit, pay your children’s school fees, or wire money to your friends and family. It takes a heroic steadfastness to hold from doing these things the traditional way. Wema Bank’s ALAT takes away the costly sacrifices necessary to pull off this heroic act.

ALAT By Wema is made better for the period of the lockdown with a new banking feature for account holders; a self-service banking feature launched for its customers to alleviate any complications with the platform in this period.

The feature which can be accessed by simply calling the number 070022552528, uses an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) to generate information for customers and help them perform other banking needs.

You can confirm account balance, resolve account security issues and check your financial statements in varying period stretches, without any need to reach the Purple Connect, the Wema Bank’s Call Centre, or visit any banking halls.

You can be the hero and save yourself and everyone else from the threat of new Coronavirus infections, without having to pay the huge price of inability to perform crucial financial activities.

The future is now

The launch of ALAT in 2017 was aimed at being a solution to a problem of the future, it appears that that future has sneaked up on us fast and is here. It is gratifying to think about the reality that, rather than scramble to catch up with it, it met us prepared.

Wema Bank is holding steadfast to its reputation of offering seamless financial services with ALAT. The lockdown is merely an opportunity to really see that in action, but also to see how much farther the bank is able to go in innovating and meeting emerging customer needs.

Wema Bank To Award School Children In The 2020 Wema Educational Award

Wema Bank, Nigeria’s leading innovative bank, is set to award 20 school children with a N50,000 School Support Fund in the 2020 Wema Educational Award. The annual award, which is available to holders of the Bank’s Royal Kiddies Account, is set to hold in September, 2020.

To qualify, parents and guardians are to open a Royal Kiddies Account in any Wema Bank branch close to them with a minimum of N100,000 before September 12, 2020. Parents and guardians who already have a Royal Kiddies Account can top up their balance to N100, 000 before the deadline to also qualify. The winning accounts would be notified of their reward after the final selection which is set to hold on September 18, 2020.

The Royal Kiddies account, a savings account opened by parents and guardians enables them to save up for their children’s education. As a Royal Kiddies account holder, a child gets to enjoy a competitive interest rate of 4.75% on savings, an E-Purse for electronic transactions and many other incentives including an opportunity to win the annual Wema Educational Award.

“It is our way of supporting parents in educating their children and we are happy with the impact we have made in the past years,” said Dotun Ifebogun, Divisional Head, Retail Business, Wema Bank
“This year, education has been greatly hampered by the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic and we hope this will go a long way to support this year’s winners as they settle into the new normal. We also hope to use this gesture to help inculcate a savings culture into children and prepare them for financial freedom early.”

Wema Bank Builds New Training Academy to Enhance Innovation and Superior Staff Performance

Wema Bank, Nigeria’s foremost innovative bank, has built a new training school, Wema Purple Academy, with the multi-purpose function of providing quality training for staff as well as a space for innovators to collaborate.

Wema Purple Academy, formerly at Oba-Akran Ikeja is now located at Town planning way Ilupeju Lagos and serves as a pathway for new staff to join the bank as well as a learning centre for current staff to increase individual and organizational productivity. It assists the Bank to identify and develop talents and prepare a structured career progression for the superior performers thereby guaranteeing a sustainable performance culture in the future.

The newly built Academy will also house an innovation hub which will bring together technologists, tech enthusiast and creators alike to collaborate and create innovative solutions targeted at critical business and human needs. This is to serve as one of the numerous channels through which Wema Bank fosters creativity, instils the bank’s work ethics, culture and high-professionalism. By building the Academy to include an innovation hub and state-of-the-art learning software and systems, the bank continues to deliver on its promise for innovation and creativity through digitization and twenty-first century technology.

Trainings offered at the Wema Purple Academy are of relevant world-class curricula in skill areas that correspond with the requirements to achieve the Bank’s strategic pillars in a more structured manner. Through the Academy, the Bank ensures that staff focuses on the vision, mission and goals that makes the future of the Bank an exciting one. It will help drive and entrench the much-desired performance and innovation culture within the Bank – employees across different levels will be equipped with competencies required for now and future, geared towards achieving superior performance needed to deliver innovative solutions to customers.

“Our overall goal is to see our staff grow constantly both personally and career-wise, and in turn use the knowledge from these trainings to deliver top-notch ideas that can translate to innovative solutions across all areas of the bank” said Chief Human Resources Officer, Wema Bank, Mrs. Ololade Ogungbenro. “This will also enhance employee morale and satisfaction.”

She also added that “We are committed to training bankers that will reflect the true value of the profession, help to strategically position Wema Bank amongst the market leaders, set the standards for excellent performance and significantly enhance the perception of our strategic partners and shareholders through the application of innovative strategies”

Wema Bank Urges Customers To Bank Safe Using Their Alternative Channels

Wema Bank, Nigeria’s leading innovative bank, is urging customers to continue to bank safely by using ALAT and its USSD platform, *945#.

Following increasing reports of positive COVID-19 cases, the bank has encouraged its customers to take advantage of alternative banking channels (ALAT and *945#) to carry out bank transactions rather than risk going out to branches.

With ALAT, Nigeria’s first digital bank, customers can pay bills, transfer funds, buy airtime and data and perform other financial transactions.
The USSD code *945# provides a quick and easy means to carry out bank transactions even without data. It is the go-to option in areas where the internet network is not so strong or where transactions need to be done urgently.

Funmilayo Falola, Head of Brand and Marketing Communications, Wema Bank explained that “although the lockdown has been lifted and most businesses have resumed, individuals need to continue to observe precautionary measures to stay safe. Using our alternative banking channels will help our customers stay safe by avoiding queues and crowds and also give them one less place to go.”

Wema Bank has before now supported the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 virus by donating to the government fund and also providing palliative materials for the economically challenged.

“Given the new normal, we will continue to ensure the safety of staff and customers by leveraging digital solutions that will reduce the risk of physical contact,” Mrs Falola added.

Businesses To Benefit From Simpler Payments With ALAT For Business

As businesses around the world resume despite the COVID-19 pandemic, ALAT for Business is set to offer more value to businesses through its digital solution.

The application, which is the corporate version of ALAT, has a broad transaction limit of up to 2 Billion Naira, allowing businesses to carry out as many transactions as they require.

Speaking on its most notable features, Samuel Robson, Head, ALAT for Business disclosed that the application allows account holders with single and multiple signatories operate their account virtually, without stepping into the banking hall to authorize transactions.

“This is a time for businesses to leverage secure platforms that allow them to get on with their businesses virtually as this will help to keep their businesses afloat and keep them safe,” he advised.

Speaking further, he disclosed that with ALAT for Business, entrepreneurs can now, schedule payments to as many as 5,000 beneficiaries at once. “This will free up their much needed time and allow them to carry out more tasks,” he added.

With the new feature, business owners can now carry out transactions without stepping into the banking hall. Mr Samuel Robson explained that this is one of the ways Wema Bank is leveraging digital technology to provide solutions to customers and help fight the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wema Bank Reopens Branches Nationwide, Advises Customers and Staff To Remain Cautious

Due to the Federal Government’s directive to ease the nationwide restrictions on movement and key businesses, Wema Bank Plc will reopen all its branches nationwide.

In a statement released by the bank, from Wednesday, June 3, 2020, all branch offices will resume normal services from 8:00AM to 4:00PM, Monday through to Friday.

The MD/CEO Wema Bank Plc, Mr. Ademola Adebise, explained that “though work resumes in earnest, what is of utmost importance is the health and safety of all”. He stressed that the bank will take necessary precautionary measures to ensure the safety of staff and customers.

Re-echoeing the sentiments of the MD, Head of Brands and Marketing Communications, Mrs Funmilayo Falola disclosed that “while at work, staff are to ensure they keep to all our health protocols, like wearing of face masks, disinfecting work desks regularly, and frequently making use of hand sanitizers”.

Mr Adebise also encouraged bank customers to maintain strict adherence to the safety protocols both in the banking halls and in their respective environments. In his words, “customers are advised to take absolute responsibility for their safety and that of their families. Be vigilant in your neighbourhoods, on the roads, and in the banking halls. It is important for us all to be as alert as ever and not take the eased lockdown as a room for laxity”.

He advised that everyone stays staunch in their resolve to curb the spread of the virus and asserted that both staff and customers will have to work independently to achieve this.

The bank also advised that although the banking halls are open, it is much safer and convenient to bank from home using the alternative channels the Bank has made available, which includes the *945# USSD code and the ALAT mobile and web banking platforms.

Post AGM: Wema Bank Extends Loan To Support Schools And Small Businesses

As the world continues the coronavirus pandemic, Wema Bank Plc has reiterated its support for individual customers and businesses by extending the tenure of loans to cushion the effects of the pandemic. Having recently held its Annual General Meeting by proxy, the bank announced an impressive growth in Customer Loans and Advances by 15% y-on-y to N289.61bn from N252.19bn in Q4 2018.
“This superlative performance gives us a good ground to provide extended loan support to businesses and individuals during this period,” said Head of Credit Risk Management, Wema Bank Plc. Mr Uchenna Obazeh.

Speaking on the loan tenure extension, Mr Obazeh disclosed that the extension of school loans have been approved for one academic term (4 months). For businesses, he added that business support loans have been approved for 90 days (3 months) in order to ameliorate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Obazeh further confirmed that the loan extension was also being considered for other sectors, and approvals are being sought from the CBN in line with the impact the pandemic will have on specific sectors as well as the estimated rates of recovery.

“For businesses, this is not a time to run from the Banks. Business owners need to sit with their bankers, assess the potential impact on their businesses and align repayment obligations with their projected cash flows,” he advised.
Speaking further, Mr Obazeh added that given the uncertainty surrounding when vaccines will be found, some businesses may have to alter their business models to become more adaptable. He enthused that well-analyzed credits availed under realistic terms will continue to succeed as the CBN is encouraging continued availability of credits to eligible businesses even in these times.

Mr Obazeh predicted an increase in non-performing loans. Although, in his words, “it will not be as significant as it would have been without the palliative measures and intervention funds made available by the CBN, as well as Banks working closely with their customers.”

“We advise businesses reappraise their operating models first, assess the impact and come up with realistic projected cash flows first. Obtaining a loan should not be the first thing. A loan will help a business increase supply. It, however, has to assess demand, as well,” he cautioned.
On how Wema Bank is helping businesses on its credit list to grow to fulfil its financial commitments, he noted that the bank is providing advisory services in addition to making the loans available.

Wema Bank Set To End 2020 On A High Following Successful AGM

Wema Bank Plc. is set to usher in an exciting new future for the bank and its customers as confirmed by the bank’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Mr. Tunde Mabawonku.

Following its successful AGM which was held by proxy last month, Mr. Mabawonku highlighted the significant growth the bank has made in recent times and provided insight into exciting plans.

The Bank posted significant growth in its 2019 performance with an increase in the bank’s interest income and non-interest income from the previous year by 23% and 74% respectively. “The non-interest income growth was driven by a 22.9% growth in Net Fees and Commission due to increased volume of transactions across various electronic channels (ATM’s, POS, Mobile Banking, Electronic Banking),”Mr Mabawonku disclosed. He also highlighted the fact that the Net Trading Income grew by “a whopping 167.45% from the previous year due to increased income on Treasury Bills.”

Commenting on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on various sectors of the economy, Mr Mabawonku noted that the “disruption will impact some companies more than others.”

“There will be winners and losers with varying degrees of exposures to the pandemic. Low exposure sectors include healthcare sector and its value chain, telecommunications, on-line oriented businesses and professional services. Moderate exposure sectors include real estate, hospitality, clothing and textile, restaurant, education, agriculture, as well as tobacco sectors, while high exposure sectors include entertainment, Oil &Gas, construction, transportation, aviation, automobile and banking & finance.”

To help mitigate the effects of the pandemic, Mr Mabawonku explained that the bank has put in place a Business Continuity Plan designed to ensure that business operations are not severely impacted. “The plan is focused on two pillars namely – Business Continuity and Safety of customers and staff,” he said.

While emphasizing the strong support Wema Bank has offered to customers by putting a moratorium on repayment of SME loans during the pandemic, the Chief Finance and Strategy officer added that “we are adjusting to the new normal by putting frameworks in place to ensure our workforce is well equipped to function accordingly while ensuring the safety of customers across all our physical touchpoints.

For the rest of 2020, Mr Mabawonku stated that the bank is poised to achieve all its plans. He expressed happiness that the bank has stayed ahead of the curve via its previous technology-led investments in ALAT, Nigeria’s First Fully Digital Bank which has continued to yield results. He stated that plans were in place to continue strong growth in customer acquisition and retention through ALAT in 2020 despite the economic headwinds.

“We are also focused on exploring available options as a tier two bank to increase capital from shareholders and investors as well as build on viable partnerships with other individuals and institutions both locally and internationally.”

To achieve its goals for 2020, Mr Mabawonku candidly noted that “the bank needs to improve on its deposit mix, while also driving down the cost of funds. We believe that our revamped retail structure will help increase our low cost funds. The bank also needs to improve on its cost to income ratio.”

With the significant progress made by the bank in recent years, Mr Mabawonku confirms that moving forward, the coming years will be exciting and rewarding for its staff, customers and shareholders.

Wema Bank Holds AGM by Proxy; Assures Stakeholders of Growth

Wema Bank Plc., Nigeria’s leading innovative bank, held its Annual General Meeting on Monday, 18 May 2020 to announce the growth of the bank in the past year and enable stakeholders to receive their dividend.

Coming several days after the bank’s 75th anniversary celebration, the meeting availed the investment community an opportunity to gain insight into the performance of the bank in the 2019 financial year.

The AGM, which held in proxy, in compliance with the guidelines of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), was moderated by the Chairman of the bank, Mr Babatunde Kasali with a few shareholders and members of the bank’s board and executives in attendance. Others joined remotely via live streaming.
Shareholder group leaders commended the bank for attaining 75 years in service, 3 years of digital banking with ALAT and also applauded the Board and Management of the bank for the 2019 performance.

For the year under review, Wema Bank announced a gross earning of N94.89 billion which was a 32.65 per cent increase from the previous year.
The bank’s Profit After Tax (PAT) grew by 56.16 per cent to N5.2 billion while Profit Before Tax (PBT) stood at 40.83 per cent year-on-year to N6.76 billion in 2019, up from N4.8 billion in 2018. The bank also reported an increase in Customer Deposits by 56.35 per cent in the year under review, to N577.28 billion.
MD/CEO, Mr Ademola Adebise accredited the performance to the bank’s Double in two strategy which is targeted at increasing bottomline while reducing cost. He added that the increase in customer deposits was as a result of the aggressive marketing campaigns around the bank’s digital platform, ALAT.

The shareholders in attendance unanimously endorsed the payment of four kobo per share translating as a dividend, which translates to an of eight per cent from 2018.
In his remarks, Mr. Adebise assured the shareholders of continuous growth for the bank. He noted that “despite the current challenges brought on by the global pandemic, the underlining strength of Bank, the quality of our assets and our position as the parent to ALAT, the first-ever digital bank in Nigeria has given us the competitive advantage to continue to deliver excellent banking services to our customers and gain the confidence of our shareholders.