Banking in Nigeria took a paradigm shift from the norm during the era of Dr. Charles Soludo’s reign as the Governor of CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria). Before then, there were more than 50 banks in Nigeria and ironically, only a handful could single-handedly finance capital projects. During his administration, the former CBN governor cut the banks from 50 to 25 banks by increasing their financial base with the CBN to 25Billion Naira. Banks that were not able to meet up were either bought over by bigger banks or forced to merged with other banks, it was the era of pure merger and acquisition which brought about identifying and exposing sick banks and revealed what we now know as the top 10 best banks in Nigeria today.
Before the merger and acquisition process, banks were springing up like lock up shops with no strong financial base, most of these banks deviated from their primary role and focused on non banking services hence causing a negative effect on the development of the economy.
Since we are discussing about the best banks in Nigeria, we need to define what makes these banks the best before going on, in the present day Nigeria, we believe in the popular saying “walk the talk”, that is, giving criteria for listing the banks below as the top 10 banks in Nigeria today.
Criteria For Ranking The Top 10 Best Banks in Nigeria
In listing the best banks in Nigeria, certain factors and conditions must be taken into consideration, some of which are;
a) The financial base of the bank (Net Income and Total Assets)
b) The Bank’s Insurance Policy Cover in the event of liquidation
c) Welfare package for staff of the bank (Salary Structures)
d) Quality of customer service towards existing and potential customers
e) Ease of accessibility (Number of branches nationwide)
f) Type of Bank Transactions
g) Awards Won
We are going to discuss the above, one after the other in clear terms;
a) Financial Base of the Bank
Now what do we mean by financial base, here we are talking abut the net income and total assets of the bank. A banks net income in simple terms means the bank’s profit after taking off taxes and other deductions into consideration.
Ideally, a bank with very strong financial base has automatically earned the trust of customers. Now you might want to ask how a customer can find out this information? you can get them from daily newspapers as the Central Bank of Nigeria demands that all banks print out their quarterly audited financial reports for public consumption.
This is one of the factors considered we put into consideration when selecting the top 10 best banks in Nigeria, the banks listed below all have this quality.
b) The Bank’s Insurance Policy Cover in Event of Liquidation
This is a very important area to look out for when picking a financial institution to bank with. Though all banks have been mandated to have a insurance cover with the NDIC (Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation) a safety net for banks in Nigeria, established 15th June 1988. Please note that this is aside the 25Billion Naira capital base for local banks and 50Billion Naira capital base for international banks in Nigeria. To be rated the best bank in Nigeria, these banks must act on this directive.
c) Welfare Package for Staff of the Bank (Salary Structures)
Another reason why the under-listed banks makes the list of top 10 banks in Nigeria is the structure of their staff welfare. A happy bank is one in which staff are happy, and this is only possible where their salaries and other benefits are well structured and paid as and when due. Most banks listed here are listed among the top 10 highest paying banks in Nigeria so this should not come as a surprise as to why they are rated the best banks in Nigeria.
d) Quality of Customer Service
Many old generation banks that used to ignore the importance of quality customer service are now replicating their new generation counterparts. The quality of the bank’s customer services to customer can either affect the bank’s image positively or otherwise. A bank with good service always attract more customers. An example of the banks with very good customer service are GT Bank, Zenith bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, and Access bank.
There are customers who says they go as far as 10miles from their homes simply because of the services they receive from the bank branch. Some go as far as transferring their funds to a particular branch because of the good customer service relationship they have developed with the bank. So ideally, to be the best you need to be excellent in every area of your scope of work.
f) Ease of Accessibility (Number of Branches Nationwide)
While some customers do not find it difficult going a distance to access their banks, some customers see this as a big deal. When banks open branches the aim is to draw nearer to existing customers and open doors to potential customers hence increasing their customer base and daily financial transactions. For a bank to be known and accepted, the bank has to be closer to their customers, they should have branches in both rural and urban settlements.
One of the biggest banks in Nigeria is First Bank, this is because of the number of branches they have nationwide though as the name implies, they are the first bank in Nigeria with the highest number of branches though this doesn’t qualify them as the best bank in Nigeria however, they listed among the top 10 best banks in Nigeria as at today.
g) Type of Bank Transactions
The type of bank transactions carried out also has the capacity to define the banking technology adopted by the bank. Unlike in the past where bills and other forms of payments used to be paid manually, nowadays all manner of payments now go through the bank. PHCN bills, FIRS, LIRS, school fees, JAMB fees, WAEC and NECO fees and all other related fees are now paid via the bank through modern payment platforms like the e-Tranzact, Remitta, Payoneer, Rave and the likes.
Imagine a customer coming into the bank to pay their taxes, tuition fee, JAMB or WAEC fee and gets a reply that such transaction is not carried out in such bank, this would send a negative image about the bank’s irresponsibility towards their basic and core functions. So to be rated among the top 10 best banks in Nigeria, financial institutions must keep up with the latest trends and technology in the banking sector, which is what the banks listed here have been able to adhere to till date.
h) Awards Won
Since awards are basically, recognition of excellence in a selected field, it will do us more good than harm to use it as a judging criteria for choosing the best banks in Nigeria.
Action speaks louder than words, when you work diligently in silence, the result of your efforts will be echoed for all to see. Awards are given in different fields in the banking industry some of which are awards for excellence, awards for the most technology driven bank (previously won by GT Bank), best investment bank, Most innovative bank, awards for best retail bank, awards for best sustainable bank and so on. These awards are given to banks that deserve or merit them, therefore using this parameter in selecting the best banks in Nigeria is also well deserved.
Having revealed our criteria and reasons the banks below are known to be the top 10 best banks in Nigeria as at 2021, now we can go ahead with giving you the list of banks in Nigeria that made it to the top 10 ranking of best banks in Nigeria 2021.
Best Banks In Nigeria 2021 – The Top 10 List
In ranking the top 10 best banks in Nigeria we shall be using an ascending method of ranking, that is, from the least (10th position) to the number 1 or simply put, the best bank in Nigeria as at 2021.
10. Wema Bank – 421Billion Naira
Wema bank can be categorized under the umbrella of old generation bank. Though this bank has undergone some reforms and restructuring and has been set on the right path in terms of profit making. Wema Bank has a healthy financial record which has therefore increased customers confidence in the bank.
Many are of the opinion that the criteria for being rated the best bank is solely based on the number of branches or customers, it is not so, Wema bank may not fall into any of the just mentioned criteria yet they are listed among the top 10 best banks in Nigeria because they have embraced the latest banking technologies. Like other top banks in Nigeria, Wema bank has their own code for carrying out other banking transactions without necessarily having to visit the bank. Wema bank short service code is *945#, with this code you can carry out the following transactions:
a) Transfer money from your Wema bank account to a beneficiary’s Wema Bank account
b) Transfer money from your Wema Bank account to another bank account.
c) Buy and Transfer credit to the phone number registered with your Wema bank account or to a third party
d) Pay for goods or services for job done offline and many more.
Aside the Wema Bank short code, you can also download the Wema Bank app via Google playstore to get and harness the full potentials of the bank’s services.
Talk of Wema bank salary structure, the bank has a well planned salary package for both ETs (Executive Trainees) you can read that up as well to get a full glimpse of how much the bank pays.
9. Heritage Bank – 483 Billion Niara
Former Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria way back in the 90’s. It was reopened and restructured and now known as Heritage Bank of Nigeria. We wrote a post about highest paying banks in Nigeria after carrying out survey about the top 10 banks in Nigeria and Heritage Bank was ranked among the top 10 banks in Nigeria with very good salary structure especially for Entry level graduate Executive Trainees (ETs).
The bank offers solutions to SMEs in Nigeria by granting loans repayable within an agreed time rate with single digit interest rate therefore, if you are business inclined with beautiful business idea but without capital, you can visit any of the Heritage Banks in Nigeria closest to you with your well written proposal for financing.
Heritage Bank has its Head-office in Lagos state. The bank currently boasts of 127 branches and 202 automated banking centers with over three-hundred and fifty (350) Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in the 36 states in Nigeria including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
With a total asset of over US$1.7+ billion (NGN:483.4 billion and an estimated staff strength of about 4,000 employees, Heritage bank pops up on the 9th position on the top 10 banks in Nigeria.
8. Fidelity Bank – 1.4trillion Naira
Their slogan is “We Keep Our Words”, truly they have lived up to this standard. Fidelity bank is known for financing of oil and gas businesses in Nigeria. They have their branches across all 36 states in Nigeria though they are not known for penetrating rural areas unlike the likes of GT Bank, First bank and United Bank for Africa known for having branches in the most unexpected places.
Fidelity bank was founded in 1988. As at 2020 the bank has a total asset of over 1.4trillion Naira. The bank became a full-fledged player in the Nigerian banking industry in 2005 after the acquisition of FSB International Bank Plc (FSB) and Manny Bank Plc, this move placed Fidelity bank as one of the top 10 banks in Nigeria.
Staff emoluments and welfare is great at Fidelity bank. As at December 2018, the bank announced a 30.1% growth in profit for the year as profit after tax hit 25billion naira. Aside the traditional services (Deposits and Withdrawals), there are other products and services customers of the bank can benefit from, some of which are Loans, funding of SMEs and other investment opportunities and financial advisory services the bank offers. Visit Fidelity bank’s website to read more about these products and services.
7. Union Bank of Nigeria – $4.1Billion
Union Bank is known for its slogan; big, strong and reliable. For the sake of history, Union Bank of Nigeria was established in 1917, duly licensed by the Centre Bank of Nigeria. The bank till date it is widely recognized among the top 5 biggest banks in Nigeria in terms of assets (NGN1,381 billion (US$4.1billion), customer base, branches and services offered. Union Bank services spans through serving other corporate organizations, individuals, small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as large .
Union bank was ranked the 556th largest bank in the world and the 14th largest bank in Africa in In July 2009 this based on the bank’s estimated total asset of over 4.1Billion US Dollars.
What makes Union bank stand out again is their indulgence in CSRs )Corporate Social Responsibilities). The bank has been known for supporting financially and otherwise activities that drive development in the area they are sited. The most recent is the Union Bank Edu360 teacher training workshop that is going on across the country, in this programmes, teachers in Lagos, Abuja, Port-Harcourt and other states are trained in their various core subjects, seminars are held in the area of professionalism in carrying out their jobs.
Aside the above, provision of security, Piper borne water, electricity and scholarship programmes are given out free of charge to people living within the community, these are many more won them the award for Best Company in Environmental Excellence Award in 2018 and Peoples’ Choice Award for the Most Outstanding Company in CSR/Sustainability in 2018.
Other awards won by Union bank includes;
- Marketing Campaign of the Year’ 2018 Marketing World awards
- Innovative Financial Brand of the Year’ (2018)
- New Age Banking Awards: Excellence in Banking Innovation (2018)
Since awards are recognition, prizes or honor for excellent performance in selected fields, Union Bank of Nigeria has been able to pay its dues and is well recognized as one of the best banks in Nigeria. UBN comes up on the 7th position on our list of top 10 banks in Nigeria 2021.
6. Stanbic IBTC Bank (1.7Trillion Naira)
Have you ever been to any of the Stanbic IBTC branches in Lagos, Port-Harcourt, Abuja or any other state in Nigeria? The first thing you would notice is the ambient banking hall, less crowd, welcoming atmosphere of the banking hall and best of all, their customer service relationship with their clients.
Stanbic IBTC is a technology driven bank with operations in 33 countries outside Nigeria with subsidiaries in banking and other financial outfits like stock brokerage, investment and pension schemes.
The bank accepts all forms of electronic payments, such as PHCN bills, taxes, FIRS, LIRS, custom duties, JAMB form fee, WAEC and NECO exam fee and other related payments.
Staff welfare at Stanbic Bank is top notch, they are among the top paying banks in Nigeria with good HMO plan for staff irrespective of their positions.
Stanbic IBTC bank is a company under Standard bank, Africa’s largest bank. The bank has a total of over 2900 employees with a total asset of 1.42 Trillion Naira. It comes up on the number 6 on the list of top 10 banks in Nigeria 2021.
5. United Bank for Africa (UBA)
United Bank for Africa (UBA) became one of the biggest banks in Nigeria after its merger with Standard bank in 2005. The bank was established in 1949 and today has branches in over 20 African countries including the United States, United Kingdom and France.
In terms of customer base, UBA has an estimated 14 million customers and over 1,000 business offices under its profile. This move has enabled doing business or carrying out banking transactions in UBA with relative ease because at every nook and cranny you must find a UBA bank around.
Why UBA is listed among the best banks in Nigeria is as a result of the services they render to their customers. The ease of doing business in UBA is top notch, though there have been few complaints from their customers as regards their customer service relationship towards their customers, the management of the bank has taken note of this hence provided a customer complaints email for customers to send their grievances to the department in charge of erring staff.
UBA salary structure is quite encouraging. The only area where they are erring is human resource, that is, outsourcing some job functions to outsourcing companies thereby reducing overhead cost on their financial reports at the detriment of staff welfare. Aside that, they are well positioned in the banking industry in Nigeria.
4. First Bank of Nigeria – 4.5 Trillion Naira
FBN as it is commonly called is the First Bank in Nigeria. It was founded in 1894 and was known as Bank of British West African. First Bank of Nigeria is the biggest bank in Nigeria in terms of asset and gross earnings according of Financial times of Nigeria. The bank boasts of a whooping 750 branches in Africa, 10million customer base and 7,000 employees. Only a bank with pedigree can maintain and manage successfully, such portfolio.
Though listed among the old generation banks in Nigeria in the early 2000s, now it is one of the most profitable banks in Nigeria. As at December 2018, First bank of Nigeria was listed among the 3 most profitable bank In Nigeria. it was ranked 3rd on the list after Zenith and GT bank.
With a First Bank account, you are practically a banker on your own because with the introduction of the FBN short code (*894#) and Mobile App which can be downloaded from google playstore or iStore, you can send or receive money from your bank or other banks, pay your bills and do a whole lot at your confort zone however, there are limitations to which these platforms can do, these limitations are necessary in order to curb fraudulent activities and other money laundry activities.
First Bank of Nigeria is ranked the 4th on the list of top 10 best banks in Nigeria.
3. Access Bank of Nigeria – 6 Trillion Naira
Access bank of Nigeria has to be on this list. Why? because they are the highest paying bank in Nigeria today. A bank that pays considerably well has a lot to tell about their financial records. Ideally only a bank with healthy financial records will summon the guts to pay really well.
If Diamond bank hadn’t been bought over by Access bank during the recent takeover in December 2018, maybe Diamond bank would have occupied this position. In a recent newspaper publication the CEO of Access bank declared that the bank is now the largest retail bank in Nigeria after its acquisition of Diamond bank spanning through 3 continents, 12 countries and 29 million customer base and boasting a total net asset of N6 trillion naira.
The bank’s services would be integrated to meet the needs of the acquired bank customers as this would bring about greater participation in the affairs in the Nigerian banking industry.
2. Guaranty Trust Bank – 3.1 Trillion Naira
GT Bank has always been known for pioneering new banking technologies, may we bring to your notice that GTBank pioneered the popular banking short code all banks in Nigeria are embracing today. When the management introduced the *737# short code to the public, many doubted its efficacy, some said how can money be transferred from one bank to another without internet? so many doubts arose but today the doubters are the major beneficiary of this innovation.
GT Bank was established in 1990 but commenced full operation in 1991. According to reports, GT Bank has the highest number of young customers between the ages of 18 to 35years of age. The bank’s style of operation, young and beautiful looking tellers and customer service executives, unique building structure and funky look is its major attraction to youths, then access to their customer service executive via their 24hours customer service email and number is second to none.
One major area GTB has been able to handle is its access to their customers. Look around you, there must be a GT bank close by, payment of bills and other fees are much easier to complete knowing there is a financial institution that handles that. They are currently the only bank that has the approval to receive payment for American Visa application, this is because they have been touted as the best bank in Nigeria with good customer service relation and best services.
GT Bank has a total asset of 3.1trillion Naira, a feat that is hard to achieve considering the time it became a major player in the banking industry, thanks to its innovations and top class services. Guaranty Trust Bank is ranked the 2nd best bank in Nigeria.
1. Zenith Bank of Nigeria – 4.7 Trillion Naira
The competition for the best bank in Nigeria has always been between Zenith Bank and GT Bank. Zenith bank is a bank with class, they believe in quality rather than quantity yet they are a mixture of both at their very best.
Customers will always say they prefer Zenith bank for their quality services and less crowded banking hall, you may wonder why Zenith is less crowded? first and foremost, the crowd in the banking hall is attributed to the number of low class earners in Nigeria. Most times the public would feel compelled to open an account with the bank with less cash than banks that require higher amount.
Zenith bank has been able to filter their customers by fixing a higher amount for opening a savings account. To open a savings account is Zenith bank is quite easy but potential customers must hold at least 50,000 naira as account opening fund unlike other banks that require just 500 or 1,000 naira as the initial deposit for opening a bank account.
Aside that, their banking services are top notch, banking hall is serene and cozy, transactions are carried out efficiently and timely, customer service staff are always welcoming with a charming smile that makes you want to forget the scourging sun in a hurry.
In terms of branches, they are strategically located in areas you would least expect too though very few in rural areas because they know their target market. Zenith bank has won numerous awards and have been recognized by other financial institutions across the shores of the nation as Nigeria’s premium bank.
Some of the awards won by Zenith bank includes:
- Best Commercial Bank Nigeria – International Finance Magazine
- Best Corporate Governance Nigeria – International Finance Magazine
- Best Customer Service Bank Nigeria – Global Banking and Finance
- Best Bank in Corporate Governance – World Finance
- Most Customer-Focused Bank in Nigeria – KPMG
Zenith bank has a total asset worth over 4.7 trillion naira, 500 branches and business offices across Nigeria and about 6,000 employees, the bank is without doubt the best bank in Nigeria as recognized by international financial bodies.
Here we have it, the top 10 banks in Nigeria as at 2021, what is your opinion as regards the above, kindly get back to us via the comment section below and we shall respond accordingly.