Access Bank, Nigeria’s largest lender by assets plans to expand into Asia early in 2024. Opening a subsidiary in Asia could enable the bank to serve customers in the region that is the largest non-African trading partner. Per Semafor, the bank hopes to receive approval from regulators by the end of 2023.

With $26.5 billion in assets under management, Access Bank Group will  join South Africa’s Standard Bank Group ($161.53 billion AUM) and TymeBank, the South African challenger fintech to open shop in Asia. Standard Bank has offices in Singapore and Dubai, while TymeBank recently expanded to the Philippines.

While speaking at the just-concluded Africa Financial Industry Summit in Lome, the capital of Togo, Hebert Wigwe, chairman of Access Holdings, the parent company of Access Bank, warned that Africa could be cut off from the global financial system. “You cannot blame European or American banks who chose not to be here. We blame ourselves, if we’re not big enough to support our people.”

“We told ourselves that we’ll keep pushing that wall until we make sure we are on the global stage. We will be in London, we will be in the US, we will be in Hong Kong, we will be in all of these markets to make sure that our people cannot be disintermediated,” the bank chief said. A 2021 report described the company’s goal as “to become an aggregator in Africa, building a global payment gateway and providing trade finance support and correspondent banking services.”

In July, the bank announced it had agreed to buy Standard Chartered’s subsidiaries in Angola, Cameroon, The Gambia, Sierra Leone, as well as its consumer, private and business banking business in Tanzania. This came after a series of acquisitions and new subsidiaries that saw the bank open shop in Angola, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique.

Access Holdings, the parent company of Access Bank currently has a UK subsidiary and operates representative offices in China, Lebanon, and India. Its UK subsidiary also operates a branch in Dubai, the UAE. Its current international operations serve corporations and other banks at the institutional level, as opposed to the retail banking services it offers in its African locations. The bank has not disclosed where it plans to set up shop or whether this new expansion means it will begin offering retail banking services in its Asian operation.

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