Nigeria's Access Bank shifts focus to retail


Nigeria’s Access Bank aims to grow its customer base to between 15 and 20 million across its African markets by 2018, from around 6 million, as it shifts its focus to retail banking.

Incoming Chief Executive Herbert Wigwe, who takes over at the end of the year, said retail banking will account for around half of its total business in five years’ time, up from 30 percent.

“There’s so much room for growth. A tie up with one telecom firm, for example, will give us access to 15 million customers,” Wigwe said, referring to the growing market for wireless money transfers.


The number of mobile users in Africa’s most populous nation surpassed 100 million last year.

African economies have been growing over 5 percent on verage since the last decade, creating an affluent middle class consuming everything from banking to telecom and cars.

Outgoing Access Bank chief Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede had earlier this year announced plans to retire by December, in line with a central bank directive limiting the tenure of bank CEOs.

Access has said it intends to grow its loan book by 15 percent this year, up from 5 percent in 2012, channelling funds to retail, telecom and oil and gas financing.

“The lending margins in retail are about 100 percent higher than what we see in the corporate space,” Aig-Imoukhuede said, adding that 80 million Nigerians now had access to the internet.

Corporate banking and infrastructure financing will also be key drivers of revenue, Wigwe said, as African nations modernize their economies.

He said Access will participate in the financing of oil firms divesting from Nigeria to the tune of $30 million to $40 million, using some of the proceeds of its $350 million Eurobond sale, referring to expected asset sales this year by Shell and Chevron.

Access Bank completed the acquisition of rival lender Intercontinental Bank last year, which put it in the top four of 21 Nigerian banks, up from ninth in 2007.

“Our … initial strategic plan was scale … now the power of the consumer is going to dominate our next five years,” Imoukhuede said.