The head of the Bank for individuals, individuals and companies, Standard chartered bank, David Idoru in this interview with Darasimi Adebisi said the bank aims to grant 5,000 loans in one year under its Smart Business Loan. He also spoke about some of the challenges Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are faced with Nigeria and the need to address the issue of guarantees.

What are the challenges for SMEs in Nigeria are faced?

One of the biggest challenges for SMEs in Nigeria are faced with collateral.

This is why we have introduced Smart Business Loan. The other part is the perfection process. For example, if a customer gives us security, sometimes the check-in process takes a long time.

What about the bank‘s high interest rate?

For us, since we are largely digital, by design we can offer greater services through digital and pass those benefits on to customers. As long as the customer can do digital transactions, they should get a better interest rate.

Can you briefly describe this product to us?

This is a Smart Business Loan (SBL) intended for SMEs. This is an unsecured loan product.

Right now we do a lot of small business loans, but they are secured loan products. We wanted to fill a gap because most new customers don’t have security or guarantees.

So, for a first loan, you should be able to take out a business loan to finance your business operations up to N20 million without collateral.

If you want to borrow above N20millions, this is when we will ask for collateral, but below N20millions we will check your ability to repay.

What really interests us are loans to support business growth, because businesses play a very important role in the economy. We want to help many more businesses succeed as part of our support for growing the economy by Nigeria.

How many SMEs are you targeting with your Smart Business Loan over the next year?

Our plan is to make 5,000 loans in the first year. We will consider this success because when you support a business, you are not only supporting one person, you are also supporting the families of the employees.

In Nigeria, most of the businesses we lend generally employ more than 20 people. If you employ 20 people in a company in Nigeria, you have supported more than 20 families.

Each family has an average of 5 to 6 people. In this way, it is a win-win situation for us, the business owners and the economy / families in Nigeria.

What value does the smart business loan offer the bank over the next year?

Business must be a win-win situation for customers, the bank and the economy. The advantage that this will give us is growth.

The consumer business sector is the fastest growing sector of our bank. It is very important for us, as a bank in business for over 150 years, to do things that benefit all key stakeholders; the country, the bank and the customer.

What factors influence the launch of this product in this period of Covid-19?

Influence is the desire to help businesses grow. Our goal as a bank is to boost trade and prosperity. This is why we exist as a bank. COVID has made it much more important to help businesses succeed.

Standard chartered bank has been operating for 150 years in good times and bad. So for us, we are looking at activities beyond the simple case of COVID-19. With or without COVID-19, we have a long-term view, which is why we decided to introduce SBL.

Don’t you consider the current economic challenges and the repayment capacity?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there are companies that are doing extremely well, for example companies that support telecommunications companies. Whether in good times or bad, there are companies that work.

We have a long-term vision to support businesses. We do not cut any product just because of a special case. We have also stepped up our investments in technology.

We encourage our customers to do a lot more using our digital channels.

With Smart Business Loan, who is your target market?

Our target market is small businesses and should be those involved in trading. We are a bank that supports commerce; these are businesses that market or provide goods and services to other businesses. We want to help them do more.

During the past year, how many loans have Standard chartered bank granted to those of SMEs?

Last year, our loans to SMEs increased more than fivefold. SME credit is a segment of our banking operations that is growing very rapidly in Nigeria.

Traditionally Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria focused on corporate banking. However, in 2019, the CEO and the board Nigeria decided we needed to do more on the personal and business banking side. In 2019, we introduced our digital bank; it has transformed the way customers interact with us.

Since launching the app, we have been able to enable customers to open accounts in 36 states and over Abuja.

We are very happy with the progress that the digital space has enabled. We pass the benefit on to customers with lower or zero transaction fees.

Apart from the exclusion of guarantees in your Smart Business Loan, what other features do you offer to customers?

Some of the advantages of banking with Standard chartered bank is that we do not charge account maintenance fees in Nigeria.

We don’t have a lot of branches and because a lot of our banking is done digitally, that means transactions can be done cheaply. At Standard Charterd, we believe in delivering the benefits of digital banking to customers.

When you open an account, you should make digital transactions as much as possible. We do not charge for money transfer in Nigeria and we have been able to achieve this thanks to the investments we have made in digital technology.

Would you like to target SMEs where the bank has no branches?

With digital, it is not necessary for us to have branches everywhere. Standard chartered bank physically operates in 3 cities: Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. However, our customers are in the 36 states and FCT. That’s the power of digital banking.

What sets Smart Business Loan apart from other bank initiatives tailored to SMEs?

Smart Business Loan SBL fills the gap for us at Standard Chartered. At least we have a way to start a relationship with a client. We can support a business at an early stage when it has no security / guarantee. This gives us the opportunity to support companies that are in the early stages of their growth.

How will you monitor the loans granted under the Smart Business Loan?

Our relationship managers are trained to support our clients. We have invested heavily in training our Relationship Managers so that they can better support our clients’ growth aspirations. We also bring in experts from different fields to support our clients.

Copyright date. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com)., Source English press service

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