GTBank embraces post-pandemic disruption, builds own Fintech

GTBank has shrugged off the challenges that came with COVID-19 pandemic with a decision to build its own fintech.

The pandemic has presented challenges to most banks, domestic and global, but some institutions have used the disruption as an opportunity to make changes that will serve to realign them for a new era.

Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank), the country’s third-largest by assets is preparing the bank for the next decade and beyond. While presiding over a major restructuring, Agbaje and the board are reconfiguring GTBank to be more nimble and responsive so that it can combat a fast-emerging wave of fintechs and payments specialists.

The bank is also investing heavily in sustainability in the broadest sense in Nigeria’s communities. And it is expanding a highly innovative model for supporting small businesses that holds great promise for the future. In one of the first initiatives following the restructuring, GTBank will launch its own in-house fintech rather than, as many banks do, forming partnerships with outside firms.

At the time of writing, the bank is in the final stages of completing its transition to a holding company structure, which would allow it to own and operate non-banking financial services businesses.

The logic behind the strategy of building a payment company from scratch is that the home-grown fintech will fend off upstart, fast-moving digital competitors before they make inroads into the bank’s main businesses, notably payments. “It’s like a ship competing with a speedboat,” explains Agbaje. “We want to make sure we don’t lose to fintechs, and if we must, it should be to our own fintech.”

Simultaneously, GTBank will rely more on digital channels for delivering efficient banking services. With 220 domestic branches and 44 e-branches, it already has a much smaller footprint than its rivals, some of whom have 700 branches. However, where the bank truly dominates is with its online and mobile banking platforms, which is a leader in cashless transactions in Nigeria. Overall, GTBank counts over 24 million retail customers and is one of the most profitable banks in Africa. The strategy is clear. “We are building an inexpensive channel for serving customers and growing our business,” says Agbaje.