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First Bank is one of Nigeria’s most recognizable financials services brands. It’s also Nigeria’s (and Africa’s) first modern banking institution. It serves over 10 million people in locations across the country and elsewhere on the African continent. It also has a presence in Asia and Europe.

Of all the large banking institutions currently operational in Nigeria, First Bank has perhaps the greatest leverage on its history. It has built a reputation for being stable and safe, and its customers often cite these characteristics as their reason from sticking with it through the years.


First Bank was founded in 1894 as the Bank for British West Africa. It was established to take care of the financing needs of British merchant and shipping concerns, which at the time were increasing their trade in the region. It did very little trade with local people in its early days, partly because most of them didn’t have the sort of items that the bank would accept as collateral for loans.

In time, its engagement with Nigerians grew, as the local commercial class began to expand. And after the country’s independence in 1960, most of its business was done with Nigerians. After a period of ownership by the Standard Chartered Bank, it relinquished ownership to indigenous interests in the 1970s. In 1979, it was renamed the First Bank of Nigeria.

Products and Services

First Bank’s parent company, FBN Holdings, has a number of sub-companies under it, which offer different financial services. These services include commercial banking, merchant banking, asset management, and insurance.

First Bank’s commercial banking offerings are represented by its personal, business, and private banking operations. The bank serves individuals and businesses with its account deposit products, which are either regular accounts or specially tailored arrangements for customers’ deposits. Bank cards, loans and advances, mobile apps, and internet banking can also be accessed by its customers.

FBNQuest is FBN Holding’s merchant banking and asset management arm. It has a number of subsidiaries under it, which undertake loan, underwriting and financial advisory for large companies. They also manage the investment portfolio of individuals and business entities.

The company’s insurance subsidiaries, including FBN Insurance and FBN Insurance Brokers, offer insurance and insurance brokerage services to a large client base.


First Bank has over 700 offices and contact points. Besides its presence in Nigeria, it has subsidiaries and representatives in Ghana, Guinea, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, China, the UK, and France.

Featured image source: Leadership Newspaper

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This article was first published on 9th September 2019


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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