What makes a bank the best bank? You know what, I’ll give to you the rankings of the top 10 banks in Nigeria in this post.
Banking in Nigeria could be predated to the colonial era; year 1892 saw the establishment of African Banking Corporation and First Bank of Nigeria (then British West Africa).
Year 1925 saw the birth of Barclays Bank and before we knew it, the first domestic bank in Nigeria existed in 1929 before turning its assets into cash the following year.
It was soon replaced by Mercantile bank. The following year saw African Continental Bank established and so more discriminating and self centered banks came up, courtesy of the colonial masters.
Thanks to the advocates of nationalization, who decided to do something about this discriminating alienation of Nigerians in Nigeria.
And so Central Bank of Nigeria, the apex of all types of banks in Nigeria was suggested in 1957, its ordinance was passed in 1958 and its gates were opened on the 1st day in the 7th month of year 1959.
It was not until year 1991 that commercial banks were introduced although quantities were much; the same could not be said for qualities.
This was put to test and the first wave of banking reforms swept across the country reducing the 89 banks then to 25 banks.
Then the second wave came after 5 years of calm and reduction got slightly fatter.
Today, despite all, some banks still lead while others follow; I present to you the latest list of top 10 banks in Nigeria in no particular order.
List of the Top 10 Banks In Nigeria
So, let’s head on to the rankings of the top ten best banks in Nigeria this year and you’ll find answers to:
Guaranty Trust Bank, the bank that has queues in almost all its branches was founded in the year 1988 by over 30 Nigerians in their thirties on a round table.
Two years later, it was incorporated as a limited liability company but it was not until the second month in the year 1991, some years after the birth of the internet, that it started bank operations.
The company continued to grow and year 2002 saw it handed its universal banking licence. In year 2003, the central bank of Nigeria assigned GTBank a settlement bank.
With a vision and determined focus on set goals, the guaranty trust bank became the first sub-Saharan bank and first Nigerian joint stock company to be on the London Stock Exchange on the sixth day in the seventh month of 2007.
It did not come as a surprise when the bank founded on ideas and innovation brought online banking and SMS banking in to the country, Nigeria.
Guaranty Trust Bank was ranked the biggest bank in Nigeria by market capitalization in year 2011. It acquired FinaBank in year 2013.
At age 20, GTBank became the first corporate organization to be venerated with the issuance of Gtbank anniversary postage stamps courtesy of Nigerian postal service.
Recently, the Supreme Court ordered the bank to pay a #8.7 billion debt to Innoson motor.
As of today, Gtbank has over 200 branches, over 15 cash centers, 18 e-branches, and over 40 GTExpress locations in Nigeria.
The 31-year-old bank is still one of the top 10 banks in Nigeria and was recently awarded the best bank in Nigeria by Euromoney Awards for Excellence 2019.
The bank is chaired by Osaretin Demuren and the chief executive officer is Segun Agbaje. It has a presence in the United Kingdom, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Liberia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania.
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British and French Bank Limited is the part foundation on which the United Bank for Africa was built upon, in the year 1961.
In the year 1970, it was the first bank to undertake public offering and within the space of the next 16 years, it had grown in size and wings.
In the early 90s, UBA was one of the four giants of the banking sector back then, and is still a giant in the industry as it remains one of the top 10 banks in Nigeria.
In the year 1990, UBA merged with Standard Trust Bank and in the year 2005, Continental Trust Bank was absorbed and replaced by UBA.
Year 2006 did not go by without witnessing the acquisition of Trade Bank. In the following years, it also acquired City Express Bank, Metropolitan Bank, and African Express Bank.
It is no wonder the bank classifies itself as a pioneer in prominent and remarkable activities in the banking sector as it was the first bank to be registered under Nigerian Law, 1961.
UBA is also the first and only Nigerian bank to obtain a banking license in the Cayman Islands and Ghana in year 1988 and 2004, respectively.
In year 2000, it was the Best Domestic Bank. The year 2005 first and most successful merger in the Nigerian banking industry had UBA deep in it, and in year 2017 UBA was rated the best bank in Nigeria.
UBA has presence in 20 African countries, United Kingdom, United State of America, Paris, and France. UBA is no doubt rated as one of the best Nigerian banks today.
3. Zenith Bank
Zenith Bank – the second white and red color bank was founded in May, 1990 by Jim Ovia; who is the Chairman and one of Nigeria’s richest men.
The bank that started from a residential building, transforming in to a bank building, is one of the top 10 banks in Nigeria.
In year 1999, Zenith refused to be ostracized and swam with the technology wave by involving social media in the advertisement of its services.
This move got them on the list of early birds in online banking. By year 2004, they had become a public limited company and in the same year, had their shares of stock on the Nigerian Stock Exchange list.
In 2013, Zenith shares were being traded on the London Stock Exchange.
4. Polaris Bank
The newly named Polaris bank is also one of the top 10 banks in Nigeria and was founded on the 24th of September, 2018. It is presently chaired by Muhammad K. Ahmad and the managing director is Adetokunbo Mukhail Abiru.
Polaris bank is a re-born bank with history dated as far back as the nineties, 1989 to be precise.
Prudent Bank Plc was founded and incorporated as a limited liability company in the year 1989. In the following year, it was issued a licence to operate as a merchant bank and was renamed Prudent Merchant Bank.
It kept operating under this name till 16 years later when it merged with four other banks namely: Bond bank limited, EIB international bank, Reliance bank limited, and Cooperative bank plc to form Skye bank.
In year 2011, they were the first to initiate the use of Naira denominated MasterCard verve in Nigeria. Year 2014 saw Skye bank buying Mainstreet bank limited.
Following the revoke of Skye bank operating licence by the central bank of Nigeria, Polaris Bank replaced Skye bank on the doors and other documents.
Polaris bank is one of the top 10 banks in Nigeria and has over 200 branches in Nigeria with presence in Sierra Leone, Angola, Gambia, Republic of Guinea, Liberia, and Equatorial Guinea.
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5. First Bank of Nigeria
The elephant logo bank was founded by Alfred Lewis Jones in 1894 and is rated the ‘biggest bank in Nigeria by total deposits and gross earnings’ and also the ‘largest retail client base in Nigeria’.
Let’s take a walk back in time, it all started with Bank of British West Africa, which quite opposite to the present; never gave loans to Nigerians but supported foreigners in their trade.
Well, that isn’t the case today as almost all commercial banks in Nigeria now grant instant online loans to Nigerians who want to borrow money online. Also, various loan companies have emerged to give loans without collateral.
Following Nigeria’s independence, things took a turn for better in favor of Nigerians and a loan of any amount was considered if not always granted; courtesy of Bank of British West Africa.
Then it got interesting when Standard bank bought Bank of West Africa in year 1965, the plate now bore Standard Bank of West Africa.
It soon had its shares listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, 6 years later. In year 1979, it was renamed First Bank of Nigeria Limited.
Below is what the advert of First bank looked like in the 1980s:
Year 1991 saw it renamed First Bank of Nigeria Plc and in 2012; it was proudly First Bank of Nigeria Limited again.
The chairman of First Bank of Nigeria is Ibukun Awosika and the managing director is Adesola Adeduntan. First Bank of Nigeria is undisputed one of the top 10 banks in Nigeria.
More of the Best Banks In Nigeria
Eco Bank, ever since its inception in year 1989, it had been operating as a commercial and investment bank.
In year 2011, Oceanic bank signed off ownership to Ecobank earning the bank, its 5th position as the largest banks in Nigeria and 2nd largest bank in the country by branch network as the acquisition totaled its branches to ‘610 branches’.
It is one of the top 10 banks in Nigeria and is headquarter in Lome, Togo and has offices in 32 countries.
7. Access Bank
Access bank with the vision to be the most respected African bank is a ‘world class financial institution’ and not only one of the five largest banks in Nigeria in terms of assets but also one of the top banks in Nigeria.
It all started in December, 1988 when it got its banking licence before it was incorporated as a privately owned commercial bank the following tear and started operations that same 1989.
In the year 1998, it had become a public limited liability company and after 8 months it was listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
In the year 2001, it obtained a universal banking license from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Access bank acquired Intercontinental bank in the year 2012 and 7 years after, merged with Diamond bank in the year 2019
Access bank has over 600 branches and service outlets, with presence in 12 countries across 3 continents, and over 20 million customers.
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8. Union Bank Plc
This bank is almost synonymous to the word ancient, please play the song ‘tales as old as time…’…lol.
Union bank is no baby as it was founded in the year 1917 as a branch in Nigeria beyond the shores of Caribean, courtesy of Colonial bank.
In the year 1925, Colonial bank was listed as part of what was acquired by Barclays Bank.
Following Nigeria Independence, Barclay bank had 41 branches in Nigeria. In 1969, Barclays Bank got incorporated in Nigeria as Barclays Bank in Nigeria Limited.
In the year 1971, it shares were seen on the Nigeria Stock Exchange list. The federal government had an interest in the bank and so bought 51.67% shares of the bank.
Seven years later, the remaining 40% with London was sold to some individuals and businesses in Nigeria. The bank was then renamed Union Bank of Nigeria to mirror the new mantle ownership.
Upon Nigeria becoming a republic, the federal government stripped itself of any form of ownership over the bank. Soon after, Union bank of Nigeria acquired Universal Trust Bank Plc, Broad Bank Limited; and later absorbed Union Merchant Bank Limited.
Union bank is undeniably one of the top 10 best banks in Nigeria and chaired by Cyril Akporuere Odu and the CEO is Emeka Emuwa.
9. Fidelity Bank
The year 1988 did not go without seeing the establishment and operation of Fidelity bank that was incorporated in the previous year, 1987.
In the year 1999, it was converted to commercial a bank from a merchant bank and then secured a universal banking license in the year 2001.
Ten years later, it was flaunting an international banking license. It later included FSB international bank Plc and Manny bank on its acquisition list in the year 2005.
Six years later, it was ranked the seventh on the list of the most capitalized bank in Nigeria and, 25th position in Africa.
In the year 2017, it was the 4th best bank in Nigeria retail market sector according to KPMG banking industry customer satisfaction survey.
Today, Fidelity is one of the top 10 banks in Nigeria and is chaired by Ernest Ebi. The managing director of Fidelity Bank is Nnamdi Okonkwo.
First City Monument Bank was carved out of City Securities Limited in 1977 by none other than the Otunba Tunwashe of Ijebu, Oloye Subomi Balogun. It was founded in the year 1982 but it was not until 1983, it was granted its banking licensee.
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FCMB is reputed to be the first of its kind in Nigeria to be founded without government or foreign support.
In the year 2004, it became a public limited liability company and was listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Eight years later, it merged with FinBank.
FCMB has over 300 branches with a presence in Nigeria and the United Kingdom. It is one of the top 10 banks in Nigeria.
Concluding Notes on the Top 10 Banks In Nigeria
Truth be told, every Nigerian has had good and bad experiences with their choice of bank. There’s nothing that can be done to flaws ones in a while.
It could be bank staffs and their attitudes, discrepancies in banking technology used, security issues and more. Still, banks in Nigeria are filling a huge gap for business transactions either online or offline, loans and many more.
Is your favorite bank on our list of top 10 banks in Nigeria? Is there a brand you think should make it to this list of best banks? Let’s have your comment in the box provided below.
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