‘We support customers in bridging financial gaps’

Credit Direct Limited, is driving financial inclusion through consumer lending. Akinwande Ademosu, managing director/CEO, said in this interview that the company has so far granted over N150 billion loans to 1.5 million customers. Excerpts, Hope Moses-Ashike

Credit Direct is the dominant player in the unsecured lending industry in Nigeria, how did you achieve this feat?

Credit Direct has provided over N150 billion in loans to over 1.5 million Nigerians across the country since inception. Before we pioneered the first structured unsecured consumer lending business in Nigeria, salary earners and small enterprises who could not get funding from banks either do not have their finance needs met or borrow at rates ranging between 120 per cent to 500 per cent annually from unstructured and unregulated loan companies using their personal belongings as collateral.

We embraced structured unsecured lending business to find solution to a problem that bothers us. We are deeply concerned about the plight of income earners and small businesses. And since we started business, we continually innovate and take steps to address our customers’ concerns. Eleven years on the job, my team and I are as fired-up today as we were years back due to the market opportunities and reception our offerings are getting from the market.

Our drive is beyond “What is in it for us, but a desire to see more Nigerians included in the financial service eco-system. For us, it goes beyond commercial returns, it is the commitment to something bigger and better than collective ‘Us’, it is a mission. That is why our mission is simply “we enable peace of mind” for all our stakeholders.

What makes Credit Direct different from its competitors?

Three things differentiates us from competitors and these have allowed us produce great results in the last 11 years. Firstly, our people. Aside having the right people doing the right things, we believe investing in their development is both critical and a competitive differentiating factor. The quality of our team is one of the best in the industry.

Secondly, we have a service model that prioritises customers’ needs in offering financial solutions that is both personal and fitting. This is because we understand the role we play in their lives and as the dominant lender in the non-bank financial industry, we support customers in bridging financial gaps and ultimately enabling their peace of mind.

Lastly, we have a culture of transparency, innovation and open communication which empowers our team to develop world class solutions in executing the organisational goals.

How does Credit Direct fit within the First City Monument Bank Group?

We began business as a subsidiary of the commercial bank – First City Monument Bank (FCMB). Over the years, we have grown into a stand-alone member of the holding company FCMB Group Plc. As a group, we have several leverage areas that when fully explored have transformational and performance implications.

What is the secret to the company’s success?

Our success is largely attributed to our teeming customers across the country who continually choose us as the preferred non-bank finance partner. We have a team of experienced and committed professionals with vast local and international experience. Beyond having vast local experience and the best of education in leading local and global institutions, we are fortunate to have a team of management and staff that are deeply connected to our purpose of enabling peace of mind to our customers. Not leaving out our proprietary world class core technology that ensures seamless service delivery.

You recently launched your new head office in Lagos, what does this mean for Credit Direct?

Credit Direct has always been about sustainable growth, customer satisfaction and work-life balance. The new corporate head office is another indication of our resolve to remain the market leader and preferred non-bank financial solutions partner in Nigeria and beyond. It is an environment that will facilitate even greater service delivery, innovation and a whole new level of outstanding customer experience.

How is your organisation able to tackle the challenges of recovering non-performing loans?

Contrary to the myth that Nigerians do not want to repay (unsecured) loans, at Credit Direct, we believe otherwise. We build our customer relationships on a two-way trust. That is, we demonstrate trust to our customers and we earn their trust. Our on-boarding process from profiling to disbursement ensures that customers can manage the loans approved and disbursed to them and our repayment system is designed in a way that does not overstretch our customers. After other risk management metrics have been deployed, we are certain that those customers are good and rarely default.

How is Credit Direct reaching out to communities?

We believe that organisations and the societies in which they do business are in a symbiotic relationship. For us, our relationship is mutually beneficial and we have taken Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a core of our existence right from our inception. We cannot afford to overlook these critical aspects of our lives so we have designed a mechanism that ensures a systemic approach to meeting these needs.

We are totally committed to this and a portion of our earnings is geared towards structures, initiatives and life-transforming projects. We have executed several projects in different states including provision of a fully equipped ICT center, support for workers during the annual Workers Day celebration, provision of free health care for civil servants, cleaning of major traffic hubs to support a healthy environment, training and various rewards for outstanding teachers in different education districts across the country, renovation of classrooms and provision of work tools for over 50 schools in Nigeria.

We are fortunate to have employees who are also actively engaged in all our CSR activities and their dedication and commitment has in no small measure impacted positively on our stakeholders, on our host communities and the society at large.

What is CDL’s plan for the future?

The future is developing our already strong brand into full-fledged financial wellbeing company ready to serve across markets. We have and will continue to invest in technology to remain the leading digital-enabled business. We are excited about the future and the opportunities that it brings to our business. We will continue to serve our customers faster and better in the future and we have ongoing plans to achieve this objective. We look to improve customer experience, ensuring seamless interaction between our customers and the business. We will continue to position the company in a way that eases customer acquisition and talent attraction as well as contribute to our community and national development in the best ways possible.

You have just received an award for Innovation. What would you say is the basis for this public recognition?

Credit Direct has always been first in class in our market for innovation being the first and among a few companies in the Nigerian financial services space to have built an in-house core proprietary technology platform certified as world class. This is besides our wide variety of unique products and services. As we maintain this innovative edge, we believe we can consolidate and improve our market position and bring financial services to more people through tech-enabled offerings.

Can you tell us a bit about Credit Direct?

Credit Direct Limited is a non-bank financial services company founded to meet specific needs of peculiar market segments. It has a strong legacy and culture of service, transparency and sustainability. We have redefined the consumer lending space since we commenced operations 11 years ago.

The unsecured consumer lending industry has evolved into a strong financial inclusion segment that is serving the Nigerian community long neglected by traditional financial institutions. With our people and digital footprint, our operation from over 40 business offices currently covers all main areas of the country including the Federal Capital Territory Abuja. We have a loyal customer base of over 300,000 in the public and private sectors.

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