Firstbank, Two Others Commit Over N500b To Stem Impact Of Coronavirus

…Announce zero charges for digital money transfers

Three commercial banks have committed over N500 billion as part of efforts to push fight against COVID pandemic in Nigeria. The banks; Eco bank, Standard Chartered and First Bank also expressed their readiness to support government’s efforts towards ensuring that the impact of business shut down is minimal on the citizens.

Firstbank MD/CEO Adeduntan

Specifically, FirstBank has donated the sum of N1 billion towards the joint effort by the Nigerian Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) to rapidly expand the health facilities; especially testing, isolation, treatment and the provision of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) facilities pivotal to controlling the spread and more importantly, treating individuals diagnosed with COVID- 19.

This, is in addition to the bank’s drive to move one million children to e-learning, together with an early partner – Roducate – as recommended by the Ministry of Education, Lagos State

In line with the 14-day stay home directive for Lagos, Ogun and FCT Abuja, the bank has also reiterated its preparedness to provide essential banking services through its alternative channels to its customers and the public at large which is in line with its robust business continuity plan.

The bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, said: “We promise to continue to look at all areas of intervention where our business infrastructure, reach, digital platforms and other natural strengths lie and can be deployed to further support all efforts for Nigerians; young and old alike.

“To that end, we will continue to communicate ways in which we can do more together. We thank our community of friends, customers and other stakeholders who have continued to send us ideas and initiatives and are gladdened at the solidarity we see as Nigerians come together to tackle this under one umbrella.

“Please stay safe and let’s work together to flatten the curve”, he concluded. All financing will be subject to companies having received regulatory approvals to manufacture the goods.”

It added: “The bank will continue to serve all of its clients during what is a challenging period for all companies, from small businesses to large multinationals.”

Similarly, Standard Chartered announced that it would commit $1 billion to finance companies that provide goods and services to help the fight against Covid-19 crisis.

According to the bank, these are companies associated with tackling Covid-19, including manufacturers and distributors in the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare providers.

Also, non-medical companies that have volunteered to add this capability to their manufacturing output including ventilators, face masks, protective equipment, sanitisers and other consumables are included.

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The Chief Executive Officer of Corporate, Commercial & Institutional Banking at Standard Chartered, Simon Cooper, said:

“Clearly there’s a cost for companies to switch into these hugely in- demand items, so it’s an area where we can potentially help them get these processes up and running more quickly; and at the same time, we want to make sure that existing manufacturers and service providers get the support they need.”

The bank intends to provide at least $1 billion to those companies in the form of loans, import/export finance or the working capital facilities that they use for day- to-day business operations to help them tool up, and help existing manufacturers get their products to market.

Standard Chartered is also trying to identify companies that may wish to switch into or add anti-virus products to their output but have not indicated that they will do so at this stage.

“Our industry teams are looking across our client base and, given our understanding of clients’ current manufacturing processes, we’re assessing which companies might want to consider adding these items to their production line,” Simon added.

Ecobank Nigeria said it is committing about a hundred million naira to drive its ‘StaySafeNigeria’, campaign, being part of its corporate actions to support measures aimed at checking the rising spread of Corinavirus.

Besides, the bank has announced that any money transferred on its digital platforms below N5,000 will be free of charge to customers, until 30 April, to encourage citizens adopt digital banking that supports safety measures, particularly the social distancing campaign and prevent further spread of the virus.

The campaign which is a call to action, creating awareness and educating the populace on safety measures to adopt against the dreaded COVID -19, is currently running in over 50 radio stations across the six geopolitical zones of the country, the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) network news.

According to the bank, the amount is in addition to the bank’s contribution as a corporate member of the bankers committee and the Nigerian private sector led coalition to raise funds against COVID-19 pandemic.

“The campaign messaging which is in Pidgin, Ibo, Hausa and Yoruba is also being driven through the social media and is trending extensively on #StaySafeNigeria, #StaySafeNaija, #StaySafe tag following massive support from members of the Creative industry essentially on philanthropic basis.” The bank in a statement thanked the entertainers and football stars who have so far adopted the campaign as a show of commitment and belief in the bank’s approach in the public enlightenment of Nigerians, ensuring the message is taken to every door step, especially at the grassroots for all citizens to imbibe the ethos of “StaySafeNigeria”.

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. The bank is also using the opportunity to invite other stars to join the #“StaySafeNigeria” campaign to sustain a new national reorientation on hygiene.

. The Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria Patrick Akinwuntan said the bank’s priority is peoples’ wellbeing and is therefore determined to support everyone in the face of unplanned shutdown which already have huge economic impact citizens.

“By this announcement users of Ecobank Mobile, Ecobank Online, USSD-Ecobank *326#, Omni Lite, can now do transfers below N5,000 at zero fees. Before now Ecobank customers who performs transactions on the bank’s platform by dialing *326# does so free of the USSD session fee.

“We have no choice as a caring and responsible corporate organisation than to rise up to this challenge of our generation and make every contribution to check the spread and save lives. Our media campaign is engaging people in very simple language on important tips to stay safe.

“The campaign will be sustained to continue promoting good hygiene conduct even after we overcome Coronavirus. we are also determined to support the Nigerian government and to ensure impact of the business shut down is minimal on the citizens.

” We encourage our customers to utilize our digital self-service solutions, including Ecobank Mobile App, Ecobank Online, EcobankPay, Ecobank OmniPlus, Omni Lite and the RapidTransfer App without having to visit branches.

“This is as part of our efforts to ensure social distancing which will help curtail the spread of COVID-19. By utilizing these digital offerings, you can easily access your bank accounts, make payments, transfer funds, process salaries, and carry out your other ancillary banking transactions from the comfort of your home and office without visiting the branch”.

Also speaking, Head of Consumer Banking, Ecobank Nigeria, Olukorede Demola-Adeniyi, said customers who are yet to upgrade to the new Ecobank Mobile App 4.0 should quickly do so.

Further, Demola-Adeniyi, reiterated that the Ecobank Mobile app supports customers to pay the fast and stress-free way with EcobankPay by simply scanning the QR code or dial *326*6*Amount*Terminal ID# to pay.

“It saves you PoS charges and less human contact. When next you are at the store and need to pay, just ask the merchant for EcobankPay. Regardless of what you want to achieve, the Ecobank Mobile App is available for you”. She noted.

! The Guardian