Before 2016, many Nigerians never saw the possibility of banking virtually without being within the four walls of a banking hall, but Providus Bank, a Nigerian financial services provider, licensed as a commercial bank by the national banking regulator, Central Bank of Nigeria showed how possible it is.The bank is a major technology-driven financial institution that makes use of virtual bank accounts for subscriber’s savings and investments, serving large corporations, government agencies, institutions, small and medium sized enterprises and high net worth individuals. Its services are driven by the philosophy to create support and value for Institutions, Agencies, SMEs and HNIs. “Our business development strategy also focuses on developing expertise and collaborating to improve the non-oil (emerging) sector of the Nigerian economy, which includes, but not limited to Agriculture, Mining, Hospitality, E-commerce, and Art & Entertainment.”Steering the ship of the bank are experienced individuals and crème-de-la-crème in the banking industry. Alhaji Hussaini Dikko, its Chairman, is a graduate of Quantity Surveying from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and a master’s degree holder in Business Administration from University of Lagos. He is a Fellow of Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors and the institute’s president in the year 2000.Walter Akpani, the Managing Director, holds a Master of Science degree in Finance from the University of Strathclyde, Scotland. His career trajectory has been through Natwest Bank UK, ICON Merchant Bank/ICON Stockbrokers, Commercial Trust Bank, Standard Trust Bank Plc and Platinum Bank Limited. He heads the Executive Management of the Bank and he is a seasoned banker with over 20 years of experience.Walter disengaged from Platinum Bank Ltd, as Vice President, Institutional Banking, to start United Mortgage Bank Limited.With its headquarters and main branch located at 724 Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, in the city of Lagos, the financial capital of Nigeria, as of November 2018, Providus Bank was registered as a regional commercial bank, serving clients in Lagos State and in the Nigerian Federal Capital Territory. Led by its Managing Director, Walter Akpani, the financial institution has leveraged on technology to beat competition with other commercial banks. The bank’s vision is to be the number one in service delivery. “We want to be a niche player and our nimble size will enhance cost saving,”.Providus Bank boasts of being an innovative ﬁnancial institution that offers customised business solutions and advanced products that will not only answer customers’ business and personal needs today, but also steer them into the future. According to the fledgling bank, “Our tailored ﬁnancial services delivery includes: Business Advisory, Portfolio Management, Personalised Relationship Management, Fast-tracked Service delivery and self-service solutions”.With a clear vision to “building an enduring and sustainable customer-focused financial institution, with mission to provide customers with unique experience, be their preferred ﬁnancial partner and nurture the attainment of their objectives”.“At Providus Bank, we believe that the New World of Fast, Smart, Personal and Borderless banking relationship is here. We are therefore inspired by our Future Forward Banking ethos to make life (at work and leisure) more exciting for our partners with the use of cutting-edge technology that delivers best-in-class customer satisfaction.”Some months back, Providus Bank deactivated all its virtual accounts in a sudden move which affected fintech startups including Piggyvest, Cowrywise and Monnify temporarily. This closure of virtual accounts by Providus meant that users of fintech platforms such as Piggyvest and Cowrywise could no longer complete any transactions using their Providus accounts.This instant shutdown, which generated panic among users of fintech platforms showed the dependence of Nigerian fintechs on digital banks. This is quite ironic, one may say, as fintechs were generally seen as best placed to gradually phase out banks.As a compliant bank, the closure of Providus’ virtual accounts was necessary to review the system in line with “new regulations” by the CBN. Despite this, the bank has still warmed its way into the hearts of its target, such as large corporations, government agencies, institutions, small and medium sized enterprises and high net worth individuals with a campaign message that speaks for itself. “This, along with personalized service and a tailored delivery, allows us to put our customers and their businesses at the heart of everything we do”.A change agent with very strong interpersonal skills and industry depth, Walter Akpani is well respected within and outside the industry and has been able to build up an effective network of contacts and associates in most strategic sectors of the Nigerian economy.Worthy of note is the fact that its Managing Director, Walter has been actively involved in bank start-ups in Nigeria. He was a pioneer staff member with ICON Stockbrokers, restructuring team member at Commercial Trust Bank, pioneer staff at Standard Trust Bank Plc now United Bank for Africa, UBA and pioneer staff at Platinum Bank Ltd.He also served as Group Head, Financial Institutions department in Standard Trust Bank and Group Head, Investment Banking at Platinum Bank Limited.
Olamide Adeniji is a member of the editorial board of TheScript Newspaper