By KAYODE TOKEDE, Lagos
As the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) urged for increased financial inclusion across the country with commercial banks at the center stage of promoting savings culture among the populace, Access Bank Plc recently undertook a decisive step with a new saving scheme tagged ‘Family Savings Scheme’.
The CBN’s financial inclusion has continued to assume increasing recognition across the globe among policy makers, researchers and development oriented agencies.
Its importance derives from the promise it holds as a tool for economic development, particularly in the areas of poverty reduction, wealth creation and general standard of living. Access Bank’s new scheme is aimed at achieving these and more.
The apex banking regulation indicated that financial products must be within easy reach for all groups of people and should avoid onerous requirements.
However, the Access Bank’s new scheme has provided answers to identification as each family will be identified by a unique family identification while all the accounts of family members will be linked to this identification.
According to report by CBN, the global pursuit of financial inclusion as a vehicle for economic development had a positive effect in Nigeria as the exclusion rate reduced from 53 per cent in 2008 to 46.3 per cent in 2010.
The report stated that adult Nigerians with access to payment services is to increase from 21.6 per cent in 2010 to 70 per cent in 2020, while those with access to savings should increase from 24 per cent to 60 per cent within the same period.
Given the growing need of increasing savings in the sector, the Access Bank new scheme tends to strengthen savings across all ages and reduced the number of unbanked populace.
The Bank in a statement noted that its ‘Family Savings Scheme’ would boost savings in line with a firm commitment to be ranked top 2 position within the commercial banking business segment in the banking industry by 2017.
The Scheme is designed to encourage families to save together and enjoy exclusive privileges such as high interest rates and family rewards while they continue to enjoy the confidentiality of their banking relation and manage their accounts as unique individuals.
According to the Bank, the rate paid monthly is based on “Family Status” subscribed by the family and applied to all individual accounts, ranging from 5per cent to 5.75 per cent.
The Scheme also provides access to people who are presently excluded from financial services whilst promoting capital accumulation and investment boom.
Under the scheme, a minimum of four family members are encouraged to bank with Access Bank and enjoy exclusive value propositions. Eligible family members include partners, children, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.
According to the Bank’s Executive Director, Personal Banking, Victor Etuokwu, the scheme comes under new segment in the Bank – Family Banking Segment.
“This is not a new product but a new segment in the bank. We have basically pulled together the various products we offer to unique family members under this Segment”, he added.
He listed some of the value propositions of the savings scheme to include education advisory services, deals and discounts, higher Interest rates, insurance, school fees advance and home loans.
Etuokwu implored the existing and prospective customers to take advantage of the ‘Family Savings Scheme’ to save for themselves and more importantly for economic development.
Specifically, the Bank in its ongoing family fortune programme explained that both new and existing Savings accounts would qualify. For existing customers, it is expected of them to fill and submit the Family Banking Subscription Form with account numbers of Family members while new customers are to obtain a form for the Family Banking Scheme at the nearest Access Bank branch.
Indeed, all account numbers tied to the Family Banking Account must have a minimum of N20,000 to be eligible for selection.
For transparency, the Bank explained that confidentiality of each family members will be maintained in the context of banking transactions from their respective accounts. “However, cumulative balance would be communicated to family members from time to time for them to maintain their Family Status. “All the accounts linked to your Family ID must be funded with minimum of N20,000 supported by required documentations to participate in the Family Fortune Promo.
“Family Sponsors are required to provide valid identification (National Identification Card, International Passport, Driver License or Permanent Voters Card) when redeeming prizes won. Prizes can be handed over to the Family Sponsor or and at least one family member.”
The move by Access Bank is seen as heralding a new dawn in the evolution of the Nigerian banking industry and international market at large. TheBank’s myriad of innovative products affirms its commitment to becoming the World’s Most respected African Bank by year ended 2017.
Despite the numerous challenges, Access Bank with the new ‘Family Savings Scheme’ is expected to grow customers’ savings and improve on the bank’s lending to real sector of the economy.
Extract from Access Bank 2016 financial results showed 31.7 per cent increase in loans & advances from N1.4 trillion in 2015 to N1.85 trillion in 2016 while its customers Deposits rose by 24.1 per cent to N2.089 trillion as against N1.68 trillion in 2015.
With increased balance sheets, the lender’s profit after tax increased 8.5 per cent to N71.4 billion from N65.9 billion in 2015.
The group managing director, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe had said, “Customers expectations are evolving rapidly and we are excited about the many opportunities for technology to expend choice, increase convenience and provide a consistent experience across all delivery channels.
“Over the years, we have focused on enhancing our technological advantage based on the conviction that innovation will remain one of key drivers of competitiveness in the industry. 2017 marks the end of the five-year strategy implemented in 2013. Plans for the next five year phase have begun in earnest to position the group not only as the world’s most respected African bank but also as an emerging global player,” Wigwe added.