Commercial banks operating in the country have continued to leverage on the digital advancement, as six lenders generated a whopping N34.38 billion from different electronic banking (e-banking) products in the first half of 2019, findings by The Daily Times revealed.
Six banks considered in this report include FBN Holdings Plc, First City Monument Bank (FCMB); Sterling Bank Plc; Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, Unity Bank Plc and Wema Bank Plc.
In fact, the latest figure of N34.38 billion income raked from e-banking by the banks represented a 45.3 per cent increase, compared to N23.67 billion generated in corresponding period of 2018.
However, our checks showed that the larger portion of the e-banking income was realised via Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) N65 charges on remote-on-us transactions, online transfer, E-card maintenance and Points of Sales Terminal (POS) transactions.
Leading the table was FBN Holdings and its subsidiaries with income of N21.8 billion, which represented an increase of 46.3 per cent from N14.92 billion generated in H1 2018, followed by FCMB that generated N5.1 billion on E-banking, 30.6 per cent increase from N3.91 billion generated in H1 2018.
For Sterling Bank, the lender reported a 63 per cent increase on its E-banking income, from N2.06 billion in H1 2018 to N3.36 billion in H1 2019 while Union Bank of Nigeria reported a decline of 22.5 per cent E-banking income to N924 million in H1 2019 as against N1.19 billion generated in H1 2018.
The other Tier 2 commercial banks, Unity Bank recorded N1.43 billion on its E-banking income in H1 2019 from N262.8 million in H1 2018 as Wema Bank generated N1.74 billion in H1 2019, 31.6 per cent increase from N1.33 billion recorded in H1 2018.
Finance experts, however, believe that increase in number of banks customers and Information Technology (IT) innovation in the banking sector, have played a critical role in the hike seen in the e-banking income generated by commercial banks.
Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, in his five-year policy thrust (2019 – 2024), expressed that the apex bank is aiming at robust payment systems infrastructure, while seeking to contain the risk to the financial system that could emerge from the use of digital channels.
He noted that the apex bank in its E-Banking policies has witnessed total volume of retail electronic payments increasing threefold over the last five years.
According to him, for the CBN, an efficient payment system is vital to the effectiveness of monetary policy interventions, stressing that it also helps in reducing the cost involved in payment for goods and services.
He said: “The Payment Services Management Department in the CBN will work to enable the buildup of a robust and secure payments infrastructure in Nigeria that is reliable and easy to access.
“We will reinvigorate our efforts at driving the cashless initiative across the country, due to the immense efficiency gains that will be derived from it, and the impact it could have on our financial inclusion drive.
“Given Nigeria’s large size, and the cost involved in building bank branches across the country, the payment system department would support the spread and utilisation of digital modes of transactions, so that every Nigerian will have access to financial services.
“A strong emphasis will also be placed on improving speed and efficiency of payments channels, while working to ensure that digital channels are safe and secure. This will help to build confidence in our nation’s payment system.
“In order to improve utilisation rate, we will continue to ensure that payment channels are interoperable, which will enable individuals with digital devices to transact across different banks or payment modes.
“Through measures such as the cashless initiative, USSD, Mobile Banking, agent networks and Payments Service Banks, Nigerians can expect to see significant improvements in the payment systems infrastructure over the next 5 years.
“We will also work with NIBSS, Banks and Fintechs in developing a regulatory sandbox. This sandbox will enable us to test financial innovations by Fintechs and Banks in a controlled environment, in order to assess its impact on the growth and safety of our financial system.”