Diamond Bank reveals why it exited some W’African markets
More than one year after exiting some West African markets, the Group Managing Director of Diamond Bank Plc., Mr. Uzoma Dozie has given a clearer reason on why the bank had to take the decision.
Explaining in an interview, the young banking wizkid averred that “If you look at penetration in Nigeria, it entails working on existing businesses, deploying technology and spending a lot of resources on training people to understand the process. So it is a case of putting your money where your mouth is, and we took a long term view two years ago”.
He explained that “When we went to other West African nations, the reason for going there was for a capital decision and we were the only bank to get a licence from the regulators over there that allowed us to go through the West African Monetary (WAMZ) to open a good location”.
“We looked at it that it was just one country with the head office (Benin Republic) and others being branches. So it was good cost capital utilisation as well.
“That is why Diamond Bank went there. In that period, there was also consolidation as we had just merged so there was excess capital in the financial sector. People had to deploy the capital because of the returns so you had to find areas where you can get returns from capital and as at that time, we didn’t have deployment strategy. But as the business terrain changed, we have had to come up with innovations that will suit the market and make sure the business is sustainable in the future and that is what we are doing.
Continuing, Dozie explained that “The WAMZ environment is different from the Nigerian environment in terms of work. So for us, it took a lot of managing the people and the business over there and we felt we were putting in too much in managing what was happening there. For instance, in Cotonou, you cannot use your credit card to get something so the development level in Togo and Cotonou is different from the development level in Nigeria, as the business was here. So for us, it was important that we streamline and focus on Nigeria. If we put the amount of resources we had put in those countries in Nigeria, we will make enough money”.
However, on the bank’s future development plans, Dozie revealed that “In the last two years, we have shown ourselves to be very solid and I am not coming from the size of bank’s balance sheet, but we have built a more efficient customer base than any other bank, by raising new businesses and exhibiting our strategy to grow the retail base”.
“We have always said we will be a technology-driven bank so as to reduce cost of deployment, access to financial services and customer experience as well. We have managed to add 10 million more customers in three years and that is because we put the choice of opening an account into the customer’s hand.
“Our partnering with MTN made it easier to get this volume of customers as it takes 45 seconds just to open an account by just dialing the *710#. There is a big difference with Mobile Money and opening an account. Mobile Money is just like a wallet; you taking money from your wallet and sending something to someone in another area and that is financial exclusion,” he noted.