How FirstBank is enabling Nigerians receive money from abroad

Receiving money from loved ones abroad can bring such joy that only a few other joys can rival. Those who have never known this joy know not what they are missing, but they need not continue to miss out on it completely. There is an ample opportunity for them to experience it, especially in this new year, even if only experiencing the joy vicariously.

There are over 750 branches of First Bank of Nigeria Limited across the country where people go to receive money sent by loved ones abroad. With the network of its branches across the nooks and crannies of the country, receiving money from abroad is refreshingly exciting at every visit to the branch due to its timely services, the closeness of a FirstBank branch to Nigerians, averting challenges resulting from needless travel times, traffic and the risks of being trailed from a stretched journey. People struggle to hide their joy when they receive money their loved ones abroad have sent to them.

It is not clear exactly why receiving money from loved ones abroad causes such ecstasy. Is it the money itself or the many things and reasons for which the money was sent, or a combination of both? The answer, if ever there was an exact one, would probably depend on the individual recipient and their individual circumstances.

What is not in doubt, however, and which a doctor’s stethoscope should be able to confirm, if the expensive medical instrument can also measure feelings, is the invariable presence of ecstasy in the recipient’s heart. Not to mention the soothing and therapeutic effect that ecstasy can have on the recipient’s whole being.

Like what recipients of money from abroad must have felt in FirstBank banking halls from Monday, 8 March 2021 when the bank, in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s “Naira 4 Dollar scheme” that was introduced to promote diaspora remittances into the country, began rewarding customers with N5.00 for every dollar received through foreign remittances. It translated to a N50,000.00 reward for a customer who received $10,000.00, for example. And the Naira incentive was paid to such customers whether they preferred to collect the dollar as cash across the counter in any of the bank’s branches nationwide or wanted it transferred into their domiciliary accounts.

For those only looking forward to a vicarious experience of such ecstasy, especially if that is all they have access to during this new year, they should know it is still a good thrill, compared with no thrill or experience at all – whether vicarious or otherwise. But there is something better they should aim for, given that their loved ones abroad should be more predisposed to giving during this new year. It is called actual experience.

Right inside a FirstBank branch this season they can have actual experience of that joy that accompanies receiving money from loved ones abroad. They should waste no time in letting their loved ones abroad know that FirstBank has addressed many of the excuses they had previously advanced for not sending money to Nigeria by providing more than enough options and platforms for them to “do new Year” for their Nigeria-based people through any FirstBank branch.

If your loved ones abroad argue that in recent times the Central Bank has restricted a number of players in the money transfer space, such as payment service banks (PSBs), mobile money operators (MMOs), among others, let them know that you are not unaware of the numerous options that the CBN has not restricted. And you can go ahead in confidence and educate them about the many options that are available from FirstBank.

Your loved ones abroad can choose to use the services of CBN-licensed international money transfer operators (IMTOs) such as Western Union and MoneyGram from almost any part of the world to send you ‘new year dollars’ to be received excitedly in any FirstBank branch this season. If they ask what else there is, you can add to the list Ria, WorldRemit, TransFast and AWS Malta – all available in FirstBank. There are also Wari, Smallworld, Sendwave, Flutterwave, Funtech, Thunes and Venture Garden Group among the IMTOs that FirstBank is in partnership with.

These growing partnerships are not just exciting for recipients of money from loved ones abroad but also the Deputy Managing Director of FirstBank, Mr Gbenga Shobo as he considers them “essential to ensure FirstBank customers are at an advantage to receive money from their loved ones and business associates, anywhere they are, across the world.”

He underlined the bank’s resolve in promoting diaspora remittances, by “expanding its network of international money transfer operators…in recognition of the significant roles diaspora remittances play in driving economic growth, such as helping recipients meet basic needs, fund cash and non-cash investments, finance education, foster new businesses and debt servicing.”

Mr Shobo’s statement explains current efforts at the bank to onboard over a dozen additional IMTOs on the bank’s platform and further expand the options available to Nigerians and other residents in Nigeria to receive money from their loved ones abroad. It also explains the recent launch of the bank’s wholly-owned remittance platform, First Global Transfer, which was created to promote the international transfer of funds across FirstBank subsidiaries in sub-Saharan Africa, including FBNBank DRC, FBNBank Ghana, FBNBank Gambia, FBNBank Guinea, FBNBank Sierra-Leone and FBNBank Senegal.

And in case this is the excuse loved ones abroad are still holding onto, they should know it is no longer tenable. Recipients not having a domiciliary account is no longer an issue, thanks to the auto-creation of USD account done at FirstBank. When a USD transfer is made to a beneficiary’s naira account at FirstBank, the bank automatically opens a USD account for the beneficiary and credits the account with the USD sent.

Clearly, loved ones abroad have more options to send their Nigeria-based people new year dollars this season through FirstBank than excuses not to “do new Year” for them at all. This was probably not something foreseen when FirstBank pioneered international funds transfer and remittances over 25 years ago, by ushering in the first-ever IMTO in the country, Western Union. Today, using the Western Union option at FirstBank, recipients can receive the inflow directly into their accounts.

For regular recipients whose lives have witnessed an uplift because of the international money transfer service pioneered by FirstBank, they are equally nostalgic about the first time they could receive in dollars the actual money sent to them in place of the naira equivalent that had been the practice. This was in 2002 when FirstBank pioneered the USD payout. It is with the same nostalgia that those who were abroad in school less than a decade ago will regale with exciting tales of how the introduction of outbound remittance service came through for them and their parents when FirstBank, again, pioneered the new service in 2014.

Being at the forefront of promoting cross-border payments in Nigeria, FirstBank has been working steadily at ensuring that its customers and, indeed, all Nigerians enjoy as much ease and convenience in receiving money from across the world in a safe and secure manner. Last year alone, over one million customers with total principal transactions worth N0.1 trillion were served in various FirstBank branches across the country on this service. This was in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown imposed by the government.

FirstBank’s efforts in driving dollar remittances to Nigeria through its expansive branch network, excellent customer service and dedicated branch staff who are working every day of the week to ensure that customers get served, have not gone unnoticed. The bank has received various awards and recognition over the years. The awards include: “Fastest Growing Money Agent Award” (2010), “Highest Receiving Agent in Nigeria” (MoneyGram), “Most Compliant Agent in West Africa” (MoneyGram), “First Agent in West Africa and Second Largest Agent in Africa to process transactions that generated a revenue of $10 million on the MoneyGram platform” (2016), and winner of the star partner and star performance awards of several IMTOs.

Laudable as the awards have been in confirming widespread acknowledgement of the pioneering and immense contributions of FirstBank as the partner of first choice in the remittance of foreign exchange to Nigeria, they have, however, paled in significance to the bank’s narrow definition of its role in the service. FirstBank continues to maintain that it is only a facilitator and enabler of the joy experienced by customers and other recipients who choose its banking halls as their centre for receiving money from their loved ones abroad. The bank feels a sense of fulfilment knowing that the service it pioneered decades ago today means the world to millions of people who throng its banking halls for the ecstatic experience of receiving money from loved ones abroad.


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