The Legacy of First Bank of Nigeria: A Pillar of Banking in Africa

How to Open a First Bank Account Without BVN

The Legacy of First Bank of Nigeria: A Pillar of Banking in Africa

First Bank of Nigeria, established in 1894, stands as a monument to the resilience and evolution of the banking industry in Nigeria and beyond. As Nigeria’s oldest bank, it has played a pivotal role in the economic development of the country, adapting to changing times while expanding its reach globally. This blog post delves into the rich history of First Bank, highlighting its founding, evolution, contributions, and its expansive network, answering key questions about its origins, ownership, and presence.

Who is the Founder of First Bank of Nigeria?

The story of First Bank of Nigeria begins with its founder, Sir Alfred Jones, a shipping magnate from Liverpool. The bank was initially established to serve British shipping and trading agencies in what was then the British colony of Nigeria. Its foundation marked the beginning of formal banking in the region, setting the stage for a financial institution that would grow to become a cornerstone of the Nigerian economy.

Who Owns First Bank Nigeria?

Ownership of First Bank of Nigeria is publicly traded, with its shares listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. It’s part of FBN Holdings Plc, a diversified financial services group, making the bank collectively owned by its numerous shareholders across the globe. This structure allows for a wide range of investments and ensures the bank’s accountability and transparency to its stakeholders.

How Many Branches of First Bank Are There in Nigeria?

First Bank boasts the largest branch network in the Nigerian banking sector, a testament to its commitment to accessibility and customer service. With over 700 business locations in Nigeria and more than 800 globally, First Bank serves an active customer account base of virtually 42 million. This extensive network ensures that First Bank’s financial services are within reach of customers across the country and beyond, underscoring its role as a leading financial services provider​​.

The Journey from Inception to Global Presence

The Founding Era and West African Expansion

Founded in the bustling commercial center of Lagos, the bank quickly expanded its operations beyond Nigeria, establishing branches in Accra, Freetown, and later across West Africa. These early expansions laid the groundwork for the bank’s central role in facilitating trade and commerce across the region.

Navigating Independence and Embracing Expansion

The post-independence era saw First Bank extending its services to a wider Nigerian audience, marking significant milestones in its journey. The bank underwent several name changes, reflecting its evolving identity and growing influence. From the Bank of British West Africa to its rebranding as First Bank of Nigeria, each name change signified a new chapter in its storied history.

Modern Era and International Footprint

The bank’s listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 1971 was a pivotal moment, transitioning it into a public company and setting the stage for further expansion. First Bank’s foray into international markets, with branches and subsidiaries in the UK, France, and representative offices across the globe, underscores its commitment to serving the diaspora and facilitating international trade and investment.

Innovations and Economic Contributions

First Bank has been at the forefront of banking innovation in Nigeria, pioneering international money transfer and electronic banking services. Its contributions to the Nigerian economy are manifold, from financing government projects to supporting the agricultural sector and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Through initiatives like the FirstBank Impact Series, the bank has played a key role in socio-economic empowerment and youth development.


The legacy of First Bank of Nigeria is not just in its age but in its continuous commitment to financial inclusion, economic development, and innovation. As it navigates the future, First Bank remains dedicated to serving its customers, supporting the Nigerian economy, and expanding its global footprint. The story of First Bank is a testament to the dynamic and resilient nature of Nigeria’s banking sector, and its journey from a colonial-era banking institution to a global banking giant continues to inspire and shape the future of finance in Africa and beyond.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.