Technology redefining banking, says Wema Bank CEO

Wema Bank Plc has brought innovation to digital banking with ALAT, a fully-digital bank, ahead of the competition in mobile and internet banking.The bank’s Managing Director/CEO, Ademola Adebise, says Nigeria’s oldest indigenous commercial bank is deploying technology to meet the needs of its customers in innovative and compelling ways, writes COLLINS NWEZE.


Digital transactions are defining the way banking is done with banks introducing various products and services to key into and dominate the e-payment space.

For Wema Bank Plc, ALAT has made it possible for Nigerians to complete the most complex banking transactions right from the comfort of their homes. And from inception till date, ALAT hasn’t just provided the latest banking technology, but fit perfectly into the lifestyle of Nigerians, making life easier for everyone.

Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Wema Bank Plc, Ademola Adebise, said  consumers gravitate towards value and will continue to patronise brands and institutions that serve them and provide some kind of needed value at the right time, and it stands to reason that as a supplier of value.

He said customers’ patronage has kept the bank going for 76 years, and will keep it going as it heads into the future.

Speaking on his vision for the bank, three years  since he became the CEO, he said: “My vision at that time was to see the bank grow rapidly. We had just come out of our successful launch of ALAT, and there was this sense of pressure as stakeholders and the market at large were keeping an eye out for the next thing out of Wema.

“I knew that we had to take advantage of the improved customer perception and grow in all the right ways. This was the seed of what became the bank’s Double-in-Two strategic vision, in which we were to work to double our performance across all metrics in two years. Thankfully, we were able to achieve this, and we have moved on to our Digital Dominance in three strategic vision, which will cover the three year period spanning 2021 to 2023. Can you share with us some of the challenges and successes you have recorded so far.’’

Continuing, he said the most notable challenge thus far has been COVID-19 and  2020.

”Every other thing pales into insignificance when placed side by side with the pandemic and the vagaries of last year, as so many changes occurred in a short period of time and one was constantly on his toes trying to plan, analyse and react to a number of equally pressing concerns.

“As for successes, I will list the awards for customer satisfaction and digital platform performance, as well as the successful deployment of ALAT 4.0, which is a major step on our journey to digital dominance and the attainment of our strategic goals. Additionally, the bank paid out dividends to its shareholders for the third consecutive year in 2020; this are notable successes, as it is in line with our aspirations of continuously providing value for our stakeholders.

“We were able to weather the storm of COVID-19 by first, harnessing an agile mindset that allowed us to pivot our operations and services very quickly in response to the realities of the New Normal of remote working. Secondly, we applied a vigorous cost-savings regimen to ensure that our income lines, which were, like the income lines of banks and businesses all over the country and the globe, hit by a number of shocks.

“This allowed us to see some gains, as our operating expenses dropped by 3.19 per cent year-on-year. All of this occurred while we continued to aggressively push for increases in customer deposits, loan disbursals and other income lines. This double-pronged approach led to the positive results for last year,” he said.

He addedthat Wema Bank’s long-term vision is to be the financial institution of choice in service delivery and financial returns.

He continued:  “Our short-term ambition is to be the dominant digital banking platform in the country; this fits in perfectly with the long-term vision, first because to be the dominant banking platform means that individuals (Wema Bank customers and non-customers alike) consider Wema Bank as the de facto first choice at every instant where they try to access financial services. Furthermore, attaining this magnitude of scale (in terms of customer numbers), will allow us to harness economies of scale and reduce per unit cost to serve, which will in turn allow us to offer the best possible rates and returns to our customers.

He said the bank has outlined a comprehensive strategy which details the ways and means of how we intend to attain this vision.

He said the bank intends to improve its efficiency and optimise our balance sheet by improving deposits and increasing capital.

“We will strive to increase our active customer base and review our value propositions to attract new customers and re-attract dormant ones,  position ourselves as the bank of choice for fintechs and tech start-ups and develop an ecosystem through mutually rewarding partnerships, continue to transform the experiences of our customers across all our channels and products and design and deploy the right architecture and infrastructure that will allow us to judiciously harness the insights gained from data to serve our customers better.

“We will also push the right skills and grow the necessary in-house culture which will ensure that our staff are properly positioned and inclined to allow for the attainment of this vision, among others.”