By Babajide Okeowo
A massive job loss looms as British banking and financial service group, Standard Chartered Plc, is concluding moves to close down at least half of its Nigerian branches.
This, in a major move, will enable the bank to embrace digital banking to provide stiff competition to payment service providers especially the mobile telecommunications companies, who were recently granted operating license by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
According to a report from Bloomberg, the Nigerian subsidiary of the London-listed bank has already shut down some of its offices in December and will eventually reduce its branches to only 13 in the country from about 25.
The report pointed out that some insiders who wanted to remain anonymous said that as part of its strategy in the new dispensation, Standard Chartered Bank will be strengthening its mobile banking services and recruiting agents to reach new customers and handle cash deposits and withdrawals across the country.
The new focus of Standard Chartered Bank is a reflection of efforts by Nigerian banks to embrace digital banking amid a fintech boom that has put much of Africa on the cutting edge of the revolution in mobile money.
Instead of opening more physical branches, Nigerian banks are also cutting costs by building networks of authorized agents, or people within communities to sell their products and services.