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Access Bank delivered strong results in the first quarter (Q1) ended March 31, 2021 despite the challenging operating environment.

According to the results, the bank recorded gross earnings of N222.1 billion, which was an increase by six per cent, from N2029.8 billion posted in the corresponding period of 2020.

Profit Before Tax (PBT) rose by 30 per cent to N60.1 billion, from N46.2 billion, while Profit After Tax (PAT) grew by 28 per cent to N52.6 billion compared with N40.9 billion in 2020 on the back of a 13 per cent growth in operating Income and a 16 per cent reduction in interest expense.

Commenting on the results, Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, said the performance shoed the strong capacity of their business to generate sustainable earnings on the strength of their balance sheet, diverse revenue streams and their dedicated people.

“As a result of effective implementation of our cost reduction strategy, operating expenses remained flat, despite the inflationary environment and increased regulatory cost.

Our retail banking business also showed steady growth with a 112 per cent increase in revenue to N57.5 billion and a 941,631 new customer sign-on via our financial inclusion drive during the quarter.

This improvement is evidenced by the consistent and robust savings account growth to N1.3 trillion , leading to asignificant reduction in our cost of funds,” Wigwe said.

According to him, with the increased adoption of digital channels and the growing customer base, the bank recorded a 29 per cent growth in USSD transaction value and 40 per cent increase in mobile and internet banking transaction value.

“In line with our risk appetite and efficient risk management, our asset quality continued to improve as guided with NPL Ratio of4.0 per cent (Dec. 2020 4.3 per cent), as we intensified our recovery efforts.

Likewise, we expanded our loan portfolio cautiously as reflected by the marginal growth in our net loans and advances to N3.65 trillion year-to-date (Dec 2020: N3.61trillion).

Furthermore, we maintained robust capital and liquidity positions, well above regulatory levels with a Capital Adequacy Ratio of 22.2 per cent and a liquidity ratio of 48.3 per cent, positioning ust o support our customers across various markets and adequately execute our expansion strategy,” he added.

Wigwe stated that in furtherance of their vision to be the World’s most respected African bank and Africa’s payment gateway, they remain committed to a disciplined and thoughtful expansion strategy.

“Leveraging the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), we will focus on key markets to drive outside Africa and intra-Africa trade. In alignment with our objectives, we recently announced our intention to acquire a majority shareholding in African Banking Corporation of Botswana Limited to further strengthen our Southern African footprint.

Looking at the quarters ahead, we are poised for strong earnings growth fueled by our retail momentum, robust balance sheet, and operational efficiency,” he said.

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