Ex-Diamond Bank Boss, Otti, Others Float Signature Bank
Signature Bank began operations on Monday as it seeks to deepen Nigeria’s financial inclusion, targeting over 40 million unbanked and under-banked citizens.
Alex Otti, the founder of the bank and former group managing director and CEO of defunct Diamond Bank, said at the launch of the bank’s headquarters in Abuja that the bank will do things differently to redefine the Nigerian banking industry.
He said the bank’s operations would impact the lives of customers through seamless access to financial services while leveraging much more simpler and flexible digital solutions.
Otti, who cited statistics from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc, expressed concerns that there were just about 55 million accounts in the country as of May 2022, and at least 42 million people in Nigeria have no access to financial services.
He said Nigerians who have no access to disruptive financial services need to be brought into the banking services net, adding that serving them requires a different kind of mindset, which Signature Bank exemplifies.
He said the birth of Signature Bank was driven by a yawning gap created by repeated unresolved complaints, poor responsiveness, and unsavoury customer experience encountered regularly by the banks it did business with.
“It came from a yearning for simplicity and ease of doing business and a less than adequate attention to the dynamic needs of the customer, not just within Nigeria, but across continents,”Otti said.
According to him, the bank allows Nigerians to pay their wards’ school fees, trade with partners overseas, settle bills from the comfort of their homes, and make payments seamlessly.
He said: “Interestingly, even as banks’ strategies, products, and service offerings multiplied, the changing demographics and dynamics had customers increasingly yearning for more and demanding simpler and more flexible digital solutions.
“What customers across different business segments are looking for is a bank that fits their aspirations, personal stories, and lifestyle,” he explained. In other words, customers want a bank that puts them first. So, we set out to build a bank that challenges the status quo, is future-forward, embraces change and impacts the lives of the people we serve.”
He added: “As Signature Bank opens its doors today, our resolve to do things differently, to equip and enable our customers to make their mark in the world around them through seamless access to financial services and banking products, tailor-made to the needs of modern life and commerce, is stronger.”
“Our experience assures us that this approach will trigger sustained financial success and returns to our shareholders while empowering our customers to make their mark in their different endeavours.”
Otti recalled that the journey towards establishing the bank began in 2017 when the management sought to buy an existing bank and remodel it to fit its vision, but, after preliminary due diligence, decided to jettison the approach, and applied to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for a fresh banking licence.
In December 2021, the bank received approval in principle from the CBN and immediately set out to build “a sophisticated bank that will operate without borders, driven by cutting-edge technology and a highly motivated workforce”.
In August 2022, the CBN approved the issuance of commercial banking to Signature Bank, after a rigorous process.
Signature Bank is already looking to open its doors to customers in several locations, including Port Harcourt, Sokoto, Kano, Owerri, Aba, Nnewi, Enugu, Onitsha, Asaba, Calabar, Uyo and Warri.
Mutiu Sunmonu, chairman of the board of directors, reiterated the vision to revolutionise the financial services industry and positively impact the lives of customers.
He said: “I have always been passionate about creating operational efficiencies through digital solutions and service excellence, so it was easy to identify and align our expectations especially in delivering superior customer experience to our customers.”
“The goal is to give our customers the freedom to bank on the go so that they can do business with us from anywhere, at any time without the need to visit a brick-and-mortar location. “