List of the Top 10 Oldest Banks In Nigeria

List of Top 10 oldest banks in Nigeria

Which are the oldest banks in Nigeria?

Despite the fact that Nigeria is a moderately youthful country—the year 2019 imprints 59 years of independent existence—it is home to banks that are more seasoned than the country itself.

Banking has been a piece of life since the beginning of human civilization as antiquated merchants/traders made loans of grain to ranchers and traders who transport merchandise between urban areas.

This kind of exchanging was known as the barter system and it goes before the world’s soonest banks.

As perhaps the oldest bank in Nigeria, First Bank, was built up when the nation hasn’t attained autonomy.

Despite the fact that majority of the early banks never again exist, the banks on this list have been in non-stop operation for a considerable length of time.

Nonetheless, some of the oldest banks in Nigeria have proceeded with operations all through civil wars and economic depressions without closing down.

Top Ten Oldest Banks In Nigeria

The following are the first set of banks in Nigeria:

1. First Bank Nigeria Plc

First Bank Nigeria Plc is the oldest bank in Nigeria.

As its name infers, First Bank of Nigeria Limited (“First Bank”), built up in 1894, is the first bank in Nigeria and the premier Bank in West Africa.

First Bank is the main money related arrangements supplier in Nigeria. The Bank was established by Sir Alfred Jones, a shipping head from Liverpool, England.

First bank is the oldest bank in Nigeria
First Bank Magazine Advert in the 1990s

With its administrative center initially in Liverpool, the Bank started business on an unassuming scale in Lagos, Nigeria under the name Bank of British West Africa (BBWA).

In 1912, the Bank obtained its first competitor, the Bank of Nigeria (previously called Anglo-African Bank).

In 1966, adhering to its merger with Standard Bank, UK, the Bank received the name Standard Bank of West Africa Limited.

In 1969 it was incorporated locally as the Standard Bank of Nigeria Limited.

Changes in the name of the Bank additionally happened in 1979 and 1991 to First Bank of Nigeria Limited and First Bank of Nigeria Plc, separately.

In 2012, the Bank changed its name again to First Bank of Nigeria Limited as a feature of a restructuring coming about in FBN Holdings Plc (“FBN Holdings”).

As the worldwide operating environment advances, First Bank has kept pace, reacting to the dynamic needs of its customers, investors, regulators, have networks, workers and different stakeholders.

Oldest banks in Nigeria
Logo of First Bank Nigeria Plc

First bank has taken the lead on the list of the ten best Nigerian banks today.

As of December 2015, the Bank had assets totaling NGN3.9 trillion ($12.2B as indicated by 2017 exchange rates).

The Bank’s profit before tax for the a year finishing 31 December 2015 was roughly NGN10.2 billion. First Bank’s ownership is differentiated, with over 1.3 million shareholders.

Notable people from the bank includes:

  • Chairman – Ibukun Awosika
  • Managing Director/CEO – Adesola Adeduntan
  • Deputy Managing Director – Olugbenga Francis Shobo
  • Executive Director/Public Sector Group – Abdullahi Ibrahim
  • Executive Director, Corporate Banking – Remi Oni

2. Union Bank Nigeria Plc

Union bank’s history can be followed to 1836 when London bankers and British merchants acquired a royal charter from William IV to lead banking business in the Caribbean.

These gathering of investors at that point formed Colonial Bank.

Following an act of parliament enabling the bank to open more branches past the Caribbean, Colonial bank started operations in Nigeria in 1917.

The year it authoritatively became operational makes Union bank probably the oldest bank in Nigeria.

Union bank - Nigeria's oldest bank
Logo of Union Bank

During this time, Colonial’s banking activities likewise shrouded different urban areas in British West Africa including Accra and Freetown.

In 1925, Barclays Bank obtained Colonial Bank, changing the bank’s name to Barclays Bank (Dominion, Colonial and Overseas) and later Barclays Bank (DCO).

In 1971, the shares of the bank stock were listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

Around the same time, 8.33% of the bank’s shares were offered to Nigerians.

The next year, the Federal Government of Nigeria gained 51.67% ownership of the bank, leaving Barclays Bank Plc. of London with 40% ownership.

In 1979, that 40% was offered to Nigerian individuals and businesses to conform to the enacted banking and investment laws.

As one of the oldest bank in Nigeria, the bank opted to change its name to Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, to mirror its new ownership structure.

The bank at present utilizes in excess of 2,700 individuals and serves 4.3 million customers through a network of 300 deals and service focuses, more than 950 ATMs, and 7,000 active POS terminals.

So, when asked; “which is the oldest bank between First bank and Union Bank? Now you know. First bank is Nigeria’s oldest bank.

Union Bank was Established in 1917 and listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 1971. So it is the second long-standing and most respected financial institution.

3. Wema Bank Plc

In what year was Wema Bank Nigeria Plc established?

The third bank on our list of oldest banks in Nigeria is Wema Bank. The bank was established on May 2, 1945, as a private limited liability company (under the old name of Agbonmagbe Bank Limited).

Wema Bank is Nigeria’s longest surviving indigenous bank and perhaps the oldest bank in Nigeria. It was allowed a commercial banking license and initiated banking activities during that year.

List of oldest banks in Nigeria - Wema
Wema bank Logo

Wema Bank converted to a public limited risk company in 1987.

In 1990, the Bank was listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. It was granted a Universal Banking License in February 2001.

The bank started operating as a commercial bank with regional scope in South-South Nigeria, South-West Nigeria, Lagos and Federal Capital Territory in 2011.

In December 2011, Wema Bank turned into the first Sub-Saharan African financial organization to completely send the Finacle 10.2 Core Banking Application.

In December 2015, Wema turned into a national bank, with a capital base of over N43.8billion having met the regulatory necessities for the National Banking license as stipulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

4. United Bank For Africa (UBA)

When was UBA established?

One of the banks famously referred to among Nigerians as perhaps the oldest bank in Nigeria is UBA. It has been operating in Africa since 1949, alluded to then as the British and French Bank Limited (BFB).

It assumed control over the assets and liabilities of BFB and was incorporated as a limited liability company on 23 February 1961 under the Compliance Ordinance (Cap 37) 1922.

United bank for Africa
UBA Logo

In 2005, it completed perhaps the greatest merger in the history of Nigeria’s capital markets with the business blend with Standard Trust Bank (STB) Plc.

Pursued by its pioneer Initial Public Offer in the Nigerian banking industry in 1970, UBA got listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

It is publicly traded under the image “UBA” and it is the first Nigerian-headquartered bank to dispatch Global Depository Receipts.

In 2006, the bank pioneered the interconnection of its then 428 African branches making it the biggest online real time branch network in Africa.

Africans can withdraw or deposit cash in any of these branches paying little heed to where their records are domiciled.

From that point forward, the bank has stayed in the cutting edge of technology innovation in the African banking space, propelling the first artificial intelligence Virtual Banking Robot in the African market.

5. Sterling Bank

When was Sterling Bank Founded?

Sterling Bank Plc as one of the oldest bank in Nigeria was initially incorporated in 1960 as Nigeria Acceptances Limited (NAL). The bank was licensed as Nigeria’s first merchant bank in 1969.

Subsequent to the indigenization decree of 1972, the Bank turned out to be completely government owned and was managed in partnership with Grindlays Bank Limited, Continental International Finance Company Illinois and American Express Bank Limited between 1974 and 1992.

sterling bank
Sterling Bank Logo

In 1992, the Bank was mostly privatized and listed as a public company on the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE).

After eight years, in 2000, the Federal Government sold its remaining interest in the bank, viably making it a completely privatized organization.

In January 2006, as a major aspect of the solidification of the Nigerian banking industry, NAL Bank finished a merger with four other Nigerian Banks namely, Magnum Trust Bank, NBM Bank, Trust Bank of Africa and Indo-Nigeria Merchant Bank (INMB) and embraced the name ‘Sterling Bank’.

The bank operates from The Head Office in 20 Marina, Lagos.

It has 179 branches all over the nation, with 7,853 POS terminals with a few merchants, and 847 ATMs the nation over. More information can be found on their official Website at

More of Nigeria’s Oldest Banks

The list of Nigeria’s oldest banks still continues.

6. Heritage Bank

When was Heritage Bank Plc established?

The bank traces its roots to the late 1970s as perhaps one of the first set of banks in Nigeria, when it was established as Societe Generale Bank (Nigeria) (SGBN), by the late Dr. Olusola Saraki.

In January 2006, the Central Bank shut down SGBN by virtue of failure to meet new minimum capital requirements of US$155 million (NGN:25 billion) for a National Bank.

SGBN effectively challenged the closure in court. In December 2012, CBN re-issued SGBN’s banking license, but as a regional bank.

Having acquired the banking license, the new ownership re-branded the bank as Heritage Banking Company Limited and opened for business on 4 March 2013.

Heritage Bank Nigeria
Heritage Bank Logo

In October 2014, Heritage Banking Company Ltd effectively met the requirements of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) toward owning 100% shares in Enterprise Bank Ltd.

On 27 January 2015, AMCON officially transferred ownership of Enterprise Bank Ltd to Heritage Bank Plc.

In 2012, the core investor, IEI Plc, through IEI Investments Limited, acquired the Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria (SGBN) license from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Having satisfied every single required standard, the bank returned 100% of existing SGBN account holders’ cash to their proprietors.

As of December 2015, the total resource valuation of the bank was estimated at about US$1.7 plus billion (NGN:483.4 billion).

Its shareholders’ equity is worth in any event US$88 million (NGN25 billion), the minimum capital requirement by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), for national banks.

Headquarters is situated at 292B Ajose Adeogun Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, Lagos State, Nigeria.

7. First City Monument Bank (FCMB)

The entity from which the bank was established – City Securities Limited, was set up in 1977 by Oloye Subomi Balogun, the Otunba Tunwashe of Ijebu, a Yoruba tribal aristocrat.

First City Monument Bank Ltd., one of the oldest banks in Nigeria was incorporated as a private limited liability company on 20 April 1982.


The bank obtained a banking license on 11 August 1983. It was the first bank to be set up in Nigeria without government or foreign support.

On 15 July 2004, FCMB changed its status from a private limited obligation company to a public limited risk company and was listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) by presentation on 21 December 2004.

In November 2010, both FinBank and First City Monument Bank (FCMB) declared that FCMB has expressed interest in gaining shareholding and become the strategic investor in FinBank, another Nigerian commercial bank that was undercapitalized.

In February 2012, after regulatory approval, FCMB acquired 100% shareholding and started integration of Finbank in its current operations. The bank keeps up its headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria’s financial capital and biggest city.

The Chairman of the 15-member Board of Directors is Jonathan Long. Ladi Balogun serves as Group Chief Executive and Adam Nuru as the Managing Director .

8. Ecobank

Ecobank Nigeria Limited, regularly referred to as Ecobank Nigeria, is a commercial bank in Nigeria.

It is one of the oldest commercial banks licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the national banking regulator.

Ecobank Nigeria is a member of Ecobank, the major independent Pan African bank, headquartered in Lomé, Togo.

Ecobank Logo

As one of the oldest banks in Nigeria, it has partners in West, Central and East Africa.

Ecobank, which was built up in 1985, has developed to a network of more than 1,000 branches, utilizing more than 10,000 individuals, with offices in 32 nations.

The bank started operations in 1989. It operates as a universal bank, giving wholesale, retail, corporate, investment and transaction banking services to its customers in the Nigerian market.

Ecobank acquired 100% of the shareholding in Oceanic Bank, creating the extended Ecobank Nigeria Limited.

As of December 2011, the extended Ecobank Nigeria controlled total assets estimated at around US$8.1 billion (NGN1.32 trillion).

9. Fidelity Bank

Fidelity Bank of Nigeria was incorporated in the year 1987 and started its operations in 1988. It initially began with a Merchant Banking license.

Fidelity bank logo
Fidelity Bank Logo

Fidelity Bank converted to a commercial bank in the year 1999 trying to develop, as a private limited company.

It turned into a Public Limited Company likewise in the year 1999, in the long stretch of August. It re-branded to Fidelity Bank Plc that year.

It secured its Universal Banking License in February 2001 and furthermore got its International Banking License in the year 2011.

Fidelity Bank of Nigeria has developed to a steady banking establishment, during the 2005 Nigeria Banking solidification, Fidelity Bank acquired FSB International Bank Plc (“FSB”) and Manny Bank Plc to get one of the top financially stabled banks in Nigeria.

10. Access Bank

Access Bank plc, usually known as Access Bank, is a Nigerian multinational commercial bank, owned by Access Bank Group.

It is the last bank on our list of oldest banks in Nigeria. It is licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the national banking regulator.

Top ten oldest Nigerian banks
Access bank Logo

Initially a corporate bank, the association acquired personal and business banking platforms from Nigeria’s International Commercial bank in 2012.

Access Bank is presently one of the five biggest banks in Nigeria regarding assets, loans, deposits and branch network.

The merger of Access Bank and Diamond Bank on 1 April 2019 has made Access Bank the biggest bank in Africa.

In completion of its merger with Diamond Bank, Access Bank Plc, disclosed its new logo, flagging the beginning of a new augmented banking entity.

Access Bank plc is a huge financial-services provider. As of December 2015, the bank had an advantage base in excess of US$12.2 billion (NGN:2.412 trillion), and shareholders’ equity estimated at approximately US$1.86 billion (NGN:367.8 billion).

Infographic on the oldest banks in Nigeria

Concluding Notes on the Oldest Banks In Nigeria

That concludes our list of top ten oldest banks in Nigeria in the order of their year of establishment.

There’s no doubt that each of the banks in this list have evolved and gone through significant changes, in order to be in business till date, isn’t it?

If this list is informative and educative to you, you can do others around you good by sharing the article on your various social media platforms.

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