News Column

Banking - Securing the Future of Youths

June 29, 2014

Olamide Bakare

There is no doubt that banking in Nigeria has come of age. Prior to the country's independence, there were few banks in Nigeria and the

banks did not enjoy as much patronage as many Nigerians lacked knowledge of the importance of banking in our day-to-day life. Some of the banks that dominated public space and still remain a force to reckon with include First Bank and Union Bank (formerly Barclays bank). With the exception of First Bank and Union bank, other banking institutions could hardly be seen in different part of the Nigeria. But the merger that came into force in 2006 changed the situation. Before the consolidation exercise, majority of the banks were seen as "mushrooms banks," owing to their sizes and capitalisation as opposed to what obtained in western economies. To escape government takeover, many of the "mushroom banks" fused into big banks, notable among which is United Bank of Africa (UBA). The Standard Trust Bank, which had become one of the fastest growing banks, collapsed its structure to become part of the UBA Group.

STB, as it was then known, was seen as one of the big players in the financial market and this culminated to its recognition as a strong contender in the banking arena. If there was one thing that worked for the bank, it was the ability to see through the banking system by endearing itself to the burgeoning youth population, having regard to the rising population of the youths. Back then it was regarded as a bank with firm grip on the youth market. Soon after the merger took place, the UBA, the holding company, began to lose grip of the market to competition. Within a short time, other competing banks began to outdo one another to gain the share of the market, leading to reduction of youths' patronage.

Aware of the shortfall and the need to attract a growing youth population, UBA has announced its readiness to capture the segment of the market just as it introduced a new suit of products tailored to meet the unique needs of teenagers and young adults.

The product tagged "Next-Gen" account, and launched recently in Lagos, is basically a suit of personal current accounts designed to offer special privileges and opportunities to account holders.

Though the product is designed as a current account, holders will have the opportunity of automatically being enrolled for savings accounts as well.

Speaking at the launch of the product, Femi Olaloku, Executive Director, Treasury and International Banking, who represented the bank's Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Phillips Oduoza, said: "Next Gen is about capturing and engaging the next generation of educated and enlightened professionals, employees, entrepreneurs, self -employed persons, from all walks of life, early in their financial life cycle."

The new offering is designed to appeal to the educated and enlightened teenager and young adult from ages 13 to 34. The product comes with features that fit into the unique needs of customers based on their age.

"This is a product that grows with the customer from his or her teenage years to when he or she becomes a young adult. This product is unique in the banking industry because it is a partnership where the bank is taking on a mentorship role to guide customers into a future life of prosperity," Olaloku explained.

He said the account has been designed to take care of every young person's unique needs from when he or she first breaks into his or her teenage years at 13 to when he or she is on the border of full adulthood at 34.

"It takes care of the unique needs of teenage customers when they are in secondary school through university to when they get their first job, start a family and even consider building their first house. At each of these critical stages in their lives, the product provides financial options and opportunities to make life more comfortable for them and their family."

Analysing the unique features of the offering, Head, Current Accounts and Credit Products of the bank, Iyke Idukpaye, said teenagers who open account, using the new products, would become part of the UBA Teen Fan Club, which offers opportunities and networking.

He also explained that part of the benefits to be enjoyed by holders of the account particularly those who are already in tertiary institutions is the privilege of sound mentorship, internships and career advisory services which would be available.

He added that the account holders would continue to benefit even after graduation, stating that the funds available in the account could prepare the graduate for the world of work and business, saying; "At this stage, account holders will enjoy exclusive invitations to job and career fairs as well as entrepreneurship workshops."

Account holders will also have access to 24-hour online banking services on UBA's internet banking platform beside other privileges like specially branded Mastercard, interest-bearing savings accounts, career advisory, scholarships, work place experience schemes with the UBA Group, entrepreneurial skills development workshops and social media engagements.

Students from different secondary and tertiary institutions attended the launch. Aina Oyawande, a student of University of Lagos, commended UBA for introducing the product, saying the incentives would make her open an account with the bank.

A musician, Falz, who addressed the students on the need to imbibe a savings culture, described the offering as a "great initiative" that will attract young entrepreneurs like him to open an account with the bank.

Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, who won the first edition of the Big Brother Africa, said the product is "innovative" adding that it was great that UBA had developed such a unique product for the youths.

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Source: AllAfrica

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