Diamond Bank Plc, one of the country's fastest growing retail banks, is now scaling down its offshore businesses, starting from West African banking operations, a move aimed at giving more attention on Nigeria's significant retail banking opportunity.
Specifically, the bank has agreed to sell its operations in Benin, Togo, Cote d'Ivoire, and Senegal to Manzi Finances S.A.- a Cote d'Ivoire-based financial services holding company.
Already, regulatory approvals have been obtained in all jurisdictions for the transactions, which are anticipated to close before December 31st.According to the bank, by focusing its resources exclusively on Nigeria, it is now poised to capitalise on the positive macro fundamentals inherent in the local market.
These targeted gains include Africa's largest economy, and evolving socio-economic trends driven by changing lifestyle preferences in favour of mobile delivered services, and a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.
The Chief Executive Officer, Diamond Bank, Uzoma Dozie, said: "After 18 years of building the Diamond Bank franchise in other markets in West Africa, the time has come to fully apply our resources to Nigeria."This is aligned with the bank's strategic objective - to be the fastest growing and most profitable technology-driven retail banking franchise in Nigeria.
"We are prioritising the Nigerian market because of its vast potential. A large segment of the population is under-banked or unbanked and the use of technology and mobile banking is rising exponentially.
"This provides Diamond Bank with the opportunity to reach millions of people, and facilitate financial inclusion on an exceptional scale," he said.Dozie noted that the lender has already laid the foundation for growth in Nigeria with over 15 million customers, a framework that will allow it to scale rapidly, efficiently and cost effectively, partly due to its digitally-led approach, which has reduced the need to have a network of physical branches to service customers.
"Fundamentally this strategy stands to benefit all our key stakeholders - shareholders, customers and employees - in the immediate, medium and long term," he added.
Key Diamond Bank initiatives include supporting Nigeria's future business leaders through its Building Entrepreneurs Today (BET) programme, improving financial inclusion by focusing on female participation in the formal economy and the roll out of its Diamond Y'ello mobile banking app, which now has over 8.6 million users.