First Bank splashes N1.5 million on three entrepreneurs

The First Bank of Nigeria Plc. on Friday earmarked N1.5 million to three entrepreneurs to aid them with their innovations.

Mrs Lola Ekugo, the First Bank, Head of Digital Laboratory made this known at the First Bank Idea Challenge at the Social Media Week in Lagos.

According to her, the First Bank Idea Challenge is also a mean of the bank to celebrate its 125 years in the banking industry.

“First Bank has been around for almost 125 years and it is key for us to give out the best in banking services to our customers, and looking forward to a better next 125 years.

“We are a forward thinking and forward looking bank, very deliberate about our actions; so we are looking to the future that is bright for our customers.

“The Idea Challenge is an initiative that was set up to work with our customers and bring about ideas that will make a complete turn around revolution for the future,” she said.

Ekugo said that N500,000 was given to the first, second and third idea winners.

She said that it was to encourage them to continue to think about the future ideas that would push the financial industry forward.

Ekugo said that for the criteria, the challenge was first held on the Facebook where people were encouraged to share their ideas, while those that got the highest goals were assessed and sorted for participation.

She said that different sectors like the cultural, educational and specifically on financial services in different areas were chosen and about 20 were shortlisted.

“There will not be any form of monitoring as the cash prize is a form of encouragement for them to continue to think, stimulate and build toward the future.

“We will not work closely with them like we did with the hackathon.

“It is just a medium for them to tell us what they think the future will bring and we can look at that and also see if it will fit into the future that we have in mind,” she said.

Ekugo said that it was essential to invest, because in the country, there exist great brilliant minds that solve problems of the world like the ease of payment.

To succeed, she said that there was also the need to collaborate with Fintech that would help with innovations, agility, saving cost and others.

She said that they are expecting a unified ecosystem where all institutions work together with the goal of solving the customers needs better.

Ekugo said that in future, technology would not drive away the banking industry as the banks would explore the possibilities that exists in technology to create better value for customers.

The first winner of the First Bank Idea Challenge, Mr Caleb Adoh, who invented Voicer, said that the app was to break the limitation in language.

“The idea of voicer is to translate a language to another language which will make communication easy between people with different language.

“For example, when speaking to someone on phone, one can speak in English and the person at the other end will be hearing the words in his language.

“Presently, we will be starting off with few languages like English, Spanish, German, and will be inculcating local languages of Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa.

“To inculcate local languages, we need to create content creators that will develop algorithms that will fit those three languages and the app is expected by year 2020,” he said.

Earlier, Mrs Folake Ani-Mumuney, the Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications, First Bank of Nigeria, said that as disruption was taking place, there was need to invest in people’s ideas.

“To invest, there is need to partner with people, listen to their ideas, put it together and produce solutions that will help the country move forward.

“We look forward to the solutions of these entrepreneurs present, hoping it will make an impact to the country,” Ani-Mumuney said

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