Zenith Bank collaborates with fintechs, insists it is not scared to compete with them

The Chief Executive Officer of Zenith Bank Plc, Ebenezer Onyeagwu, said the tier-1 bank has begun collaborating with fintech companies to drive payment solutions and other products for its customers. This comes as the Nigerian digital economy keeps evolving significantly, even as more people continue to switch from the conventional ways of transaction to digital transaction.

Onyeagwu disclosed this recently when he appeared on CNBC Africa during an exclusive interview, to reflect on the company’s audited 2019 financial statement.

According to him, the company’s increasing focus on digital banking is partly responsible for the N208.8 billion profit after tax that was reported in 2019. Recall that Zenith Bank’s profit after tax increased by 7.9%, up from N193.4 in 2018.

While commenting on the audited 2019 financial statement, Onyeagwu noted that retail banking also played a huge role in the impressive. This is because 2019 was the first full-year that the bank ventured full-time into retail banking. He said:

“Last year was our first full year in our foray into digital and retail banking. So, when you are looking at the digital income and fees, it’s a combination of both digital and retail fees. Last year was the first full year when we went full blast into the retail business, so we’ve seen that combine to give us incremental growth in terms of income from fees and electronic commission.

“Zenith is also known to have a bias for digital and investment in IT. We are leveraging on that to build very strong capability and competencies to drive business. There are quite a lot of product developments which are targeted at very niche markets.

“We are also looking at some integration with various fintech companies depending on what services you have. Sometimes we are collaborating with fintech companies to drive payment on different platforms. In some cases, too, we are churning out new products just to create confidence for our customers.”

Now, you cannot but agree that it is quite interesting that Zenith Bank (and indeed other banks), now partner with fintech companies. What changed? CNBC Africa’s Esther Awoniyi more or less threw this question at Zenith Bank boss and his response was quite revealing.

According to him, fintech companies’ bank agnostic products, which are widely accepted by the people. Unfortunately, whenever banks come up with these products by themselves, Nigerians tend to express some kind of “apathy”. This is why Zenith Bank had decided to identify where it can best collaborate with fintechs.

In the meantime, Onyeagwu made it clear that the bank will also continue to come up with its own products in the meantime. This is because the bank is never scared to compete with the fintechs. As a matter of fact, Zenith Bank has always been a very competitive bank, he said.

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