The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) serves as the country’s central monetary authority. Established under a 1958 Act of Parliament, the Nigerian central bank commenced operations in 1959. CBN oversees the operations of financial institutions and banks in Nigeria, helping ensure high banking standards and financial stability in the industry, as well as promoting an efficient payment system.
In March 2021, Moody’s Investors Service maintains a negative outlook for banks in Nigeria. The negative outlook reflects expectations of rising asset risk and weakening government support capacity over the next 12 to 18 months. The loan quality of Nigerian banks is expected to weaken in 2021, as the government’s and central bank’s coronavirus support measures are discontinued.
For anyone considering a banking career in Nigeria, this list of top banks in Nigeria is a helpful guide on where to start. To learn more, see our list of financial institutions.
The Top Banks in Nigeria are:
The Central Bank of Nigeria granted Access Bank a commercial banking license in 1988. In 1989, it became a privately owned commercial bank. The bank operates through four major segments: Personal Banking, Business Banking, Commercial Banking, and Corporate and Investment Banking.
In April 2019, Diamond Bank was fully merged with Access Bank to build a new entity while retaining the name of Access Bank with a logo that took the form of Diamond Bank. Post-merger, Access Bank became the largest bank in Nigeria.
Access Bank currently employs 6,781 individuals and operates around 600 branches in Nigeria, as well as two branches in the United Kingdom and a representative office in the Republic of China, UAE, India (Mumbai), and Lebanon (Beirut).
Net income: NGN 104.68 billion (2020)
Total assets: NGN 9.05 trillion (3/2021)
Incorporated in 1990, Zenith Bank offers retail and SME banking, private banking, corporate and investment banking, foreign exchange, treasury, trade services, and other financial services. In 2004, it became a public limited liability company and subsequently listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
The bank currently serves more than 1.6 million customers and employs about 7,500 staff. It operates through a network of 436 branches, 177 cash centers, 2,042 ATMs, as well as subsidiaries and representative offices in Ghana, Gambia, South Africa, Sierra Leone, the United Kingdom, China, and UAE (Dubai).
Net income: NGN 230.37 billion (2020)
Total assets: NGN 8.68 trillion (3/2021)
Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank)
Founded in 1990, Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) started its banking operations in 1991. GTBank offers a full range of financial services, including retail, corporate, investment banking, online/internet banking, and asset management. In 2007, it held its IPO on the London Stock Exchange, becoming the first African bank to list on the LSE.
Headquartered in Lagos, GTBank employs 6,459 individuals and serves over eight million customers. It operates a network of 48 domestic branches, 92 ATMs, and 44 e-branches, as well as several branches in other African countries and in the UK.
Net income: NGN 194.96 billion (2020)
Total assets: NGN 4.99 trillion (3/2021)
First Bank of Nigeria (FBN Holdings)
Headquartered in Lagos, First Bank of Nigeria (FBN Holdings) operates through four major Strategic Business Units (SBUs): Retail Banking, Commercial Banking, Corporate Banking, and Public Sector Banking. Established in 1894, FirstBank became a public company in 1970 and joined the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 1971.
The bank oversees subsidiaries in West African countries and the UK, as well as representative offices in Abu Dhabi, Beijing, and Johannesburg. It employs more than 8,300 staff and oversees a network of around 818 branches and over 3,100 ATMs.
Net income: NGN 87.99 billion (2020)
Total assets: NGN 7.84 trillion (3/2021)
Founded in 1986, Ecobank Nigeria is a subsidiary of the pan-African banking group, Ecobank Transnational Inc. The universal bank offers retail, corporate, wholesale, and transaction banking services, as well as capital markets and investment banking services.
Ecobank operates through three major units: Retail Banking, Wholesale Banking, and Treasury and Financial Institutions. It currently oversees more than 600 branches across Nigeria.
Net income: NGN 1.26 billion (2019)
Total assets: NGN 1.99 trillion (2019)
United Bank for Africa
Founded in 1948 as the British and French Bank Limited (BFB), United Bank for Africa is one of the oldest banks in Nigeria. In 1970, it held an IPO, becoming the first Nigerian bank to list its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. The company caters to retail, commercial, and corporate customers, providing a wide range of financial products and services.
United Bank employs about 10,500 staff and serves more than 14 million customers around the world. It operates a network of over 1,000 branches and touchpoints, 13,500 POS terminals, and 1,740 ATMs in Africa.
Net income: NGN 109.33 billion (2020)
Total assets: NGN 7.89 trillion (3/2021)
Union Bank of Nigeria
Founded in 1917 as Colonial Bank, Union Bank of Nigeria offers retail and commercial services to individuals, SMEs, and major corporations. It adopted its current name after it became a wholly-owned Nigerian entity, as well as to comply with the Companies and Allied Matters Act of 1990.
The bank currently employs more than 2,400 individuals and serves 4.3 million customers through a network of 300 sales and service centers, over 950 ATMs, and 7,000 active POS terminals.
Net income: NGN 18.54 billion (2020)
Total assets: NGN 2.16 trillion (3/2021)
Incorporated in 1987, Fidelity Bank started its banking operations in 1988 as a merchant bank. It became a commercial bank in 1999 and obtained its universal banking license two years later.
The bank offers a wide range of financial products and services to individual and corporate customers, with a strategic focus on retail and electronic banking, SMEs, and niche corporate banking. It currently oversees 250 business offices, 774 ATMs, and 4,046 POS terminals.