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THE MAKING OF A CSR MASTERSTROKE: AN X-RAY OF FIRSTBANK’S YEOMAN EFFORT TO MOVE ONE MILLION CHILDREN TO E-LEARNING

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THE MAKING OF A CSR MASTERSTROKE: AN X-RAY OF FIRSTBANK’S YEOMAN EFFORT TO MOVE ONE MILLION CHILDREN TO E-LEARNING

The rabbit hole of uncertainty, confusion and fear that pupils and their parents fell into in the dying days of March when the country was in lockdown was best captured in a Saturday Sun feature of May 16, titled, “COVID-19: Troubles of e-Learning.”

 

The story catalogues the challenges that erupted out of the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the fears and frustrations brewed by the new abnormality foisted on the world, the pessimism that pervaded the globe from developed to underdeveloped countries and the possibilities that blew up in the aftermath in the education stratosphere.

With the new order of social distancing, self-isolation, government-enforced quarantine and the ubiquitous lockdown, the prospect of indefinite stay at home until at least an elusive vaccine is found, loomed. This precipitated a distress as never seen before in the education space.

Yet, a panacea was at hand: Digital learning, though hitherto given scant attention. But crossing into that nirvana was an uphill task, especially, in this part of the world. Why: The existence of a huge digital deficit both in infrastructure and the requisite skill.

The dilemma confronting parents, pupils and tutors are multi-dimensional as illustrated by these three vignettes from the story:

  • Oko Odinakachi, a student of Abia State University, faced frustration on two fronts: her institutions dillydallying about adopting the e-learning strategy on the one hand; her little faith in digital learning, on the other hand. “I was on the verge of writing my first-semester examination. How possible can we do that digitally when there are issues with even JAMB CBT here in our country?”
  • A father whose daughter, a student of Federal Government College Shagamu preparing for her Senior School Certificate Exam, was compelled to seek a suitable e-learning portal because WAEC advised students to be studious during the lockdown as they’d be going straight into the exam hall at short notice as soon as the pandemic is over. The search led him to an online WAEC Preparatory Class that demanded payment for requisite online resources. “One subject is N1, 500, four subjects N4, 500 and six subjects cost at N6, 500. I didn’t go further because of the fee, which I think is exorbitant, given the current state of the country,” he complained. He joined the rank of other parents who raised concerns over exploitation by mercenaries masquerading as e-learning groups.
  • Abolade Kunle, a JSS3 student was aware of the government-sponsored tutorial on the radio but he was unable to enjoy the benefits: “We don’t have a radio set in the house. I use my dad’s phone once in a while but he doesn’t allow me to use it all the time,” he railed. A related drawback was cited by one of his teachers at the public school in Mushin: “In the past five weeks, we have had barely three days of electricity supply. It is not every parent that can afford a generator. Is it not when you have electricity supply that the children can watch [government educational programme on] the television?”

The absence of curative or prophylactic breakthrough against the virus meant that academic activities would remain in limbo, while pupils and their parents are faced with the undaunted possibility of a long spell at home. The prospect of a long lull of academic inactivity struck a palpable fear that fueled the scramble unto digital learning platforms as educationists and institutions across the country experimented with remote learning, albeit on a trial-and-error basis. The efforts were at best tangled; the process muddled; the result ineffective. Even, for students of tertiary institutions, the online class was to many a Lala-land.

With the option inevitably narrowed down to digital learning, a Catch-22 situation evolved. Who’s going to make it happen? How? When?

NEWS : FIRST BANK REINFORCES ITS FINANCIAL INCLUSION DRIVE; DISBURSES OVER 17 BILLION NAIRA LOANS THROUGH FIRSTADVANCE

Best foot forward

Eventually, the first foot forward––and indeed the best one––came and it was from First Bank of Nigeria Limited.

The bank, a leading financial inclusion services provider, announced its intention to roll out an innovative e-learning initiative on the heels of its philanthropic contribution of the sum of one billion naira to the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), a private-sector task force that partners the Federal Government, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to combat the coronavirus in Nigeria.

In the months to come, the bank’s effort would resonate forcefully in the education space. The reason for this was not farfetched. Since responsiveness remains a cornerstone of Corporate Social Responsibility, when it is timely, it becomes a major coup. The severity of the pandemic required “uncomfortable, transformative responsiveness,” not the usual CSR response where organisations choose and design responsiveness on their own terms, described by Wayne Visser in Evolution and Revolution of Corporate Social Responsibility, as “when giving is easy and cheque-writing does nothing to upset their commercial applecart.”

Taking on the e-learning challenge head-on was an self-assigned project for which the bank was not under any compulsion to undertake. That it volunteered to tackle the challenge is an indication of the largeness of its CSR aorta.

Suffice to say that a handful of digital learning initiatives exist before the advent of the Covid-19 lockdown; the First Bank effort, however, resonates louder because it has a measurable stated goal: Moving one million pupils into e-learning platform.

A response apt and adequate 

Lagos State’s prompt response to the pandemic included the immediate shutdown of schools. By March 25 (four days before Lagos State went into total lockdown on the order of the President), the First Bank initiative was rolled out, and it inalienably took the optics of “the” response to the glitch caused to the education system by the coronavirus pandemic.

First Bank went into collaboration with Lagos State Government and an indigenous mobile learning platform, Robert and John Limited, whose trademark Roducate e-solution, a comprehensive curriculum-based education, is a cornucopia for a broad spectrum of students.

Having powered similar projects in the past, Robert and John was an obvious best in the e-learning business, a fact reinforced by First Bank CEO, Adesola Adeduntan: “In searching for the best fit solution, several options were considered by educators and teachers from the state and First Bank over the last couple of weeks before adjudging Roducate the offering from Robert and John, an innovative technology firm, to be the best of all reviewed.”

Is Roducate the Rosette stone of online learning? The facts were in its favour. Its claim of being the “most comprehensive e-learning platform in Nigeria and indeed Africa” is justified on its curriculum-based education for primary, secondary, and tertiary students. Moreover, ;it has been active in the e-learning space as far back as 2014 and has perfected the mechanics of effective digital learning, winning endorsements along the way from NUC, NERDC, JAMB and Lagos State Ministry of Education.

And by tweaking its blueprint, it came up with an e-learning mother lode––lecture notes, assignments, mock exams, videos, podcasts, and educational games––a rich vein of contents for primary, secondary and tertiary institutions, structured in consonance with the government-accredited curriculum. From the interactive tutorial videos to the innovative feature that enables the learner to take notes for quick reference, it was a whole new experience and an enjoyable learning process.

Suffice to reiterate that the First Bank/LASG Roducate is not the first of its kind; before it, there was Glo Mobile Tutor (since 2014) and UBA LEARN (unveiled in 2018) amongst others. However, certain factors gave it an edge.

The comparative advantage

The CSR takeaways from the initiative are writ large in what makes it different from others––in other words, its comparative advantages.

On the first count, the effort surfaced at a time of need, a time when there was an urgent need to close the gap caused by the disruption in children education due to schools closure following the Covid-19 lockdown. In one fell swoop, a solution materialised that provided succour for all, from kindergartens kids to grad-year students of tertiary institutions.

Secondly, while it is indeed a rolling scheme, it nevertheless came with specific number goal of one million pupils to be empowered with digital learning; this calibrated objective makes the intervention easy to evaluate, compared to other similar initiatives.

Thirdly, the biggest boon: subscription-free.

Consider what this means to parents such as the one cited in Sun story who had to shell out approximately N6, 000 for his daughter to access the needed resources. With the First Bank initiative, students simply get on the platform by registering free at https://www.firstbanknigeria.com/e-learning/.

And then the masterstroke: the enhanced offline feature of the initiative. It means students can study offline without having to bear the burden of buying data. What’s more, First Bank gave further impetus by providing 20, 000 devices that came preloaded with the curriculum.

Elaborating on the low-end devices preloaded with Roducate offline content, Adeduntan disclosed that “the phones have SIMs and limited data tied, only, to the Roducate learning product.”

Kayode Abayomi, the spokesperson for Lagos State Ministry of Education, further hit the nail on the head.

“The devices are efficient and fit for purposes for all students especially indigent students given the fact that data consumption of most e-learning solutions has been a major stumbling block for the majority of students and teachers alike,” he said.

Its fourth edge is from its collaborative nature. One of First Bank’s collaborators on the project is a partner with leverage in the education space: the Lagos State Government. That made a big difference, as it gave the initiative authority and legitimacy that immediately gained traction.

In return, the initiative was well-appreciated by Lagos State Governor Sanwo-Olu: “It is not out of place that we are witnessing more infusion of technology in learning and this intervention by First Bank could not have come at a better time.”

Lastly, the First Bank e-learning project took care of both the short-term and the long-term interest of Nigeria in the digital race. Beyond the exigency of the moment, which was to get the children into learning mode, the intervention took on the imperative of helping young Nigerians develop relevant skills in emerging technologies, thereby enhancing their competitiveness in the interconnected world of today.

How? Via two other initiatives, both partnerships with IBM (that schooled youths in coding Artificial Intelligence, cloud, internet of things, blockchain, data science, analytics and cybersecurity) and Curious Learning (which offers academic contents for pre-learning and early-stage children aged 3-8 through self-guided learning apps). These two threw open the door of digital technology and made available for free the opportunities to transform them into tech geeks.

Taking responsibilities

For organisations with a sense of CSR, Covid-19 was an opportunity that was too good to miss. Where and how they responded depend on their preexisting corporate responsibility culture, their focus, the heft of their commitment.

Adeduntan said of the First Bank initiative: “We are warmed by the fact that different organisations have risen to the various challenges and are supporting in areas such as health and welfare, and we feel the peculiar needs of our children and youth must not be left out and have therefore elected to focus on contributing to solving the current education challenge.”

He said further: “It is a responsible approach to empower them, given that they are our future and the foundation to build our country to greatness. By partnering on this, we are solving a problem for families and our future.”

In September, schools re-opened, and education activity, deflated for months, gradually regains shape and gathers momentum. The number of students enrolled on the platform has increased significantly. The big question: is it going to be one of those projects that got abandoned after the ovation died down? Or is it likely to be sustained?

The cue is in the stated goal of the initiative. FirstBank has placed on itself the onus to continue to build on the effort and to give the needed impetus that will accelerate the achievement of the set goal of 1,000, 000 registered children in record time. It is expected that FirstBank will sustain the race to the finishing line.

I am Paschal Ogechi Obi Chikero . I have written and published three books , I wrote Festus Keyamo's biography- Lion In Isolation .I have been a Reality TV show Producer/Creator, an Actor and Film Script Writer.

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Customers accuse Wema Bank of using their data to open illegal accounts via ALAT app

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Customers accuse Wema Bank of using their data to open illegal accounts via ALAT app

Wema Bank Plc, one of Nigeria’s struggling financial institutions is in the news again for the wrong reasons as some customers of the bank have accused the lender of conducting illegal banking practice in the country.

They said they discovered that the bank and its agents had allegedly been opening unauthorised accounts for customers with information or data in the bank’s possession.

The financial institution, led by Ademola Adebise, has allegedly been opening accounts for some Nigerians on its digital banking platform, ALAT, without their knowledge or consent in a bid to celebrate its 5th anniversary.

While the actual number of unauthorised accounts opened on behalf of unsuspecting Nigerians is unknown, Wema Bank was aiming to achieve “a million account in one day”.

Wema Bank, in a mail claimed the unauthorised accounts were opened for certain persons “to celebrate with us” despite not informing them ahead or receiving approval to create the accounts.

This illegal banking practice is similar to that of Wells Fargo, a United State bank, which was accused of opening 1.5 million accounts without authorisation, with over 565,000 credit cards applied for, allegedly without customers consent.

About 5,300 employees at Wells Fargo were sacked for opening the illegal accounts, and the company was fined $185 million by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the United States.

The unauthorised Wells Fargo accounts were only uncovered by the affected persons when the accounts started accumulating debt from bank charges on the unsuspecting individuals.

Just as the sacked Wells Fargo employees were said to have indulged in fraudulently opening sham accounts to beat target, Wema Bank vendors and marketers may have used the same strategy to achieve the lender’s anniversary target.

That of Wema Bank is expected to also place a financial burden on the unsuspecting persons through account maintenance cost, from which the lender generated about N2.10 million last year, surpassing N1.24 million of 2020.

Recently, Mental Health Advocate, Adebayo Tayo, took to his Twitter account to publicly accuse Wema Bank of opening an account in his name without authorisation from him.

Tayo lamented that he never knew he had a new Wema Bank account until his mother contacted him, because she received an alert that was intended for him – shocking, how come he owns an account he’s unaware of, and his mom receives the alert.

“I am concerned about how my info had been used by Wema Bank and I need detailed explanations about the account including every transactions it has performed before someone uses my details for an account to launder money or collect ransome, he stated.

Following a probe into Tayo’s claim, this newspaper discovered he was not the only one whose identity was used by the financial institution, to open accounts on its digital banking platform, ALAT, without the knowledge or consent of the individuals.

READ : Figures Don’t Lie: Wema Bank Standing On Strong Financial Fundamentals – Adebise

Another affected Nigerian is Oyenike Ojo, whose name was used to open an account. However, when money was sent to the account, the alert details showed another name, Oluseyi Bamgboyi as account owner – which means two different names seem to have been used to open one account.

Ojo’s husband said something was shady about the account, “What I said is, the current name on the account number in my screenshots is not my wife’s name. If you look at that screenshot, the account was opened with my wife’s name and a new account number.

“She also got a credit alert notification via sms with the new account number. This shows that her details were used to open that account. However I tried to do a transfer to that account this morning when I read the news only to see that the account name is Oluseyi Bamgboye and not Oyenike Ojo (which is my wife’s name). Something is definitely fishy”, he explained to Ripples Nigeria.

Ojo said his wife has an account with Wema Bank which she hasn’t used for about seven years, and the new account created in her name doesn’t seem to carry the same number with her old account.

He stressed that the unauthorized accounts opened is “definitely an inside job.”, stating , “Customer’s details are compromised and they are being used to open new accounts. Whether by marketers so as to meet targets of number of accounts opened, or for money laundering, I can’t tell.”

Ojo asked for an investigation into the illegal accounts opened by Wema Bank, saying the situation is questionable, “How Oyenike Ojo’s savings account opened without her permission has now become Oluseyi Bamgboye’s account is definitely questionable.” Ojo said, expressing his worry.

Another name used to open unauthorized account, Abimbola Fakoyejo, disclosed that he was still wondering about his unused account on ALAT, when he saw a message notifying him that an account has been opened in his name.

Wema Bank also did not immediately respond to our enquiry on the matter.

[Ripples Nigeria]

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FIRSTBANK REWARDS CUSTOMERS IN ITS FIRSTMOBILE CASH-OUT PROMO

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2021 NCOY: FIRSTBANK PARTNERS JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT NIGERIA, REITERATES COMMITMENT TO INNOVATION AND EDUCATION

In collaboration with Interswitch, FirstBank has launched a promo to reward users of the FirstMobile app, its industry-leading mobile banking application.

The promo tagged FirstMobile Cash-out Promo will run for 3 months. The promo, which started on Monday, 21st March 2022 will end on Tuesday, 21st June 2022.

 

Various prizes including, N1,000,000, N40,000, N10,000.00 cash prizes, N40,000 Airtime, LED Televisions, refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioning systems will be won in the course of the three months campaign. A minimum of two bills payment worth N1000 and five airtimes of at least a total of N2000 in a week qualify a customer for any of the prizes. The promo is open to new customers and existing users of the FirstMobile app.

 

FirstMobile customers who do a minimum of 6 transactions weekly on the FirstMobile app, will be eligible for the respective rewards: N10,000 cash for 200 winners; Gift items (TVs, Refrigerators and AC) for 10 winners; N10,000 airtime for 340 winners.

 

On the other hand, 500 customers that carry out a minimum of 10 transactions monthly will win N30,000 cash. The Grand Prize of N1,000,000 will be won by 2 lucky customers who carry out a minimum of 20 transactions or a minimum of two bills payment of N1000 plus five airtime transactions of at least a total of N5000 in a week.

 

Speaking on the campaign, Chuma Ezirim, FirstBank’s Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products said, “as the leading financial inclusion services provider in Nigeria, we are delighted to partner with Interswitch, an Africa-oriented technology-driven company, to reward our customers for their continuous patronage. Together with Interswitch, we remain committed to ensuring the continued safety of customers’ funds across multiple electronic payment channels irrespective of where our customers may be across the world. FirstMobile remains another obvious step towards leveraging evolving technologies to bring fast and convenient digital banking solutions to our customers”.

 

FirstMobile is built to reflect FirstBank’s resolve at reinforcing the digitisation of payment systems, whilst putting customers at an edge to conveniently meet their everyday needs at any time, irrespective of where they are. The app provides convenient access to both financial and non-financial transactions by FirstBank account holders via their mobile devices. It is sleek and convenient to use – evident in its easy enrolment process as all FirstBank customers with Verve and Naira Mastercards can begin using the app without having cause to visit a FirstBank branch. It is also poised to offer a more reliable and more convenient overall digital banking experience.

 

To set up the FirstMobile app, customers with android phones should visit the Google Play store to download and install the FirstMobile app. Customers with Apple devices can download it from the Apple Store. Once installed, customers are required to open the app, tap the register button, and use their FirstBank issued Naira MasterCard or Verve card to activate the app. After details have been inputted, an OTP code will be sent via an SMS to your phone number that is linked to your bank account and you are then required to Input a 5 digits code that will be your login password, select two security questions and answer them, create a personalised 4 digits transaction pin that will help your confirm transactions. Upon the conclusion of these steps above, click Done and start enjoying the app.

 

About FirstBank

 

First Bank of Nigeria Limited (FirstBank) is the premier Bank in West Africa and the leading financial inclusion services provider in Nigeria for 128 years.

 

With over 750 business locations and over 150,000 Banking Agents spread across 99% of the 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria, FirstBank provides a comprehensive range of retail and corporate financial services to serve its over 30 million customers. The Bank has an international presence through its subsidiaries, FBNBank (UK) Limited in London and Paris, FBNBank in the Republic of Congo, Ghana, The Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Senegal, as well as a Representative Office in Beijing.

 

The Bank has been handy at promoting digital payment in the country and has issued over 10million cards, the first bank to achieve such a milestone in the country. FirstBank’s cashless transaction drive extends to having more than 10million people on its USSD Quick Banking service through the nationally renowned *894# Banking code and over 4.5 million people on the FirstMobile platform.

 

Since its establishment in 1894, FirstBank has consistently built relationships with customers focusing on the fundamentals of good corporate governance, strong liquidity, optimised risk management and leadership. Over the years, the Bank has led the financing of private investment in infrastructure development in the Nigerian economy by playing key roles in the Federal Government’s privatisation and commercialisation schemes. With its global reach, FirstBank provides prospective investors wishing to explore the vast business opportunities that are available in Nigeria, an internationally competitive world-class brand and a credible financial partner.

 

FirstBank has been named “Most Valuable Bank Brand in Nigeria” six times in a row (2011 – 2016) by the globally renowned “The Banker Magazine” of the Financial Times Group; “Best Retail Bank in Nigeria” for seven consecutive years (2011 – 2017) by the Asian Banker International Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards and “Best Bank in Nigeria” by Global Finance for 15 years. Our brand purpose is always to put customers, partners and stakeholders at the heart of our business, even as we standardise customer experience and excellence in financial solutions across sub-Saharan Africa, in consonance with our brand vision “To be the partner of the first choice in building your future”. Our brand promise is always to deliver the ultimate “gold standard” of value and excellence. This commitment is anchored on our inherent values of passion, partnership and people, to position You First in every respect.

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Access Bank Set To Make 62 Millionaires With DiamondXtra Season 14

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Access Bank Set To Make 62 Millionaires With DiamondXtra Season 14

DiamondXtra season 14 was launched today, 13 May 2022 at the Access Bank Towers, Victoria Island.

NAIJA NEWS NG reports that the leading financial institution unveiled new exciting and life changing packages in a bid to encourage savings culture while rewarding its loyal customers .

In the past 13 seasons, DiamondXtra has rewarded over 24,000 customers and N6 billion has been given out to winners ! Which other bank in Nigeria can boast of this level of customer oriented empowerment? None !

READ : Access Bank Rewards over 9,000 Lucky Customers in DiamondXtraWins Campaign
Speaking at the event, Head of Retail Banking, Robert Giles , said the customers told the bank what they wanted . The customers insisted that the Salary For Life and other unique packages must not be removed. Trust Access Bank, they listened like always.

What’s new in season 14 :

In Season 14, at least 62 people will be made millionaires, there will be Digital marketing classes for 10,000 DiamondXtra customers and N270 million will be won by DiamondXtra customers. This is so good, right?

To ensure that as always customers from the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria benefit, DiamondXtra season 14 will be brought to your doorsteps ….no matter where you live. Season 14 aims to empower 359 customers in the four zones during outdoor draws. In season 14, “everybody must collect“.

Transparency :

In a scheme like this, transparency is key, Access Bank has opened its doors to regulators. Industry leading regulating bodies like Nigerian Lottery Regulators Commission, NLRC and the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission will be monitoring the draws to ensure transparency .

The Diamondxtra Cluster draws are still open for customers in the different regions to encourage various associations, Clubs, Groups, Societies etc., to come together as a cluster, open DiamondXtra accounts for their members with N5,000 minimum deposit each and a draw will be held for their group where the winning pot is up to N150,000.

So get involved and change your life!

To open a new account, simply dial *901*5# and if you have an existing DiamondXtra account, just dial *901# to fund the account with N50,000 or more. Good luck !

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