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Access Bank Takes GTBank, UBA, FirstBank, and Zenith for #1 Position

Access Bank has unveiled a bold strategy that will make it the "number one Nigerian bank by 2022 and create a universal payments gateway to dominate international trade and inter-African payments". I know that I am very biased as I worked in the Nigerian banking sector, but I can tell you that the most efficient sector in the Nigerian economy is banking. They are the hardest working people in our nation, at least at the organized (corporate) private sector.

I like what Access Bank wants to do: they essentially want to become an elephant with wings, taking over the payment sector in Nigeria and indeed Africa.  They see retail, SME banking and corporates as anchors to the vision.

The new strategy has six strategic levers, which are “digitally led; retail banking growth and consolidation in wholesale markets; customer-focused; analytics-driven, with robust risk management; strong global collaboration in key gateway markets; and the creation of a universal payments gateway.”

“We are setting out a new and ambitious five-year strategy which will put Access Bank at the forefront of Africa’s changing financial landscape by creating a universal payments gateway to dominate international trade and inter-African payments.”

The new five-year strategy, according to the bank, will accelerate the growth story to position Access Bank as the number one Nigerian bank by 2022 and create a universal payments gateway to dominate international trade and inter-African payments.

“We are setting out a new and ambitious five-year strategy which will put Access Bank at the forefront of Africa’s changing financial landscape by creating a universal payments gateway to dominate international trade and inter-African payments.”

The new five-year strategy, according to the bank, will accelerate the growth story to position Access Bank as the number one Nigerian bank by 2022 and create a universal payments gateway to dominate international trade and inter-African payments.

Largely, this strategy is typical. I am hoping they will execute a pan-African payment gateway ecosystem as they map the strategy for the universal payment vision. I have laid out how our banks could do that through the deployment of location-agnostic and currency-agnostic technology here. That is one way to execute that vision of a "universal payments gateway to dominate international trade and inter-African payments"

But putting #1 in the strategy is the one that will bring frown faces across boardrooms in Lagos: GTBank, UBA, Zenith Bank and First Bank could all claim to be #1 depending on the metrics. GTBank is certainly beloved by young working class and is the most valued by the market, UBA is big (the largest Nigerian bank in Africa by spread), First Bank has the numbers, while Zenith holds great assets. So Access Bank has to create out one area to be #1 or take down someone to #2.

Like the saying goes: aim for the moon, so that when you miss it you can land among the stars. Dreams are there to be dreamt, and with solid strategy, tact and hardwork, they come true sometimes. Access bank want to dominate retail, SME and even corporate segments, add that to being the leading light in payment system and international gateway to Africa; you now understand that the five years plan is super ambitious. At the moment the bank doesn't dominate any of these segments, but that's exactly what it wants happen by 2022. Atleast it's 'smart'enough not to tell us that it would add 20 million customers within that period. The interesting thing about making bold statement is that, while you work hard to achieve it, at same time you have awoken perhaps 'resting' lions who now feel rattled that you could take or atleast threaten their market share. To be number one? The ones already laying claim to it are frowning now; Access bank, get ready for the battle ahead!

 Yes, it is a clear strategy that is typical. They can work to make it happen.