Stepping ahead of cybercriminals, the First Bank example

AMAKA IFEAKANDU looks at the different safety measures put in place by the First Bank of Nigeria Limited  to combat cybercrimes and other fraudulent activities in the banking system

The advancement in technology has redefined the way banking business is being conducted across the globe. Modern banking system, no doubt, has created a financial supermarket where many different financial services like insurance, investment, loans and current and savings accounts could be provided.  

The adoption of e-banking in the country has helped to lift the challenges posed by traditional banking system as customers can easily carry out their transactions remotely, without having to visit a bank branch.  

Interestingly, with the advent of technology, the nation’s banks have been able to design and roll out many different electronic banking products and services in the country in the last two decades.

This means that In today’s digital age, customers could perform different banking transactions from the comfort of their homes and offices. With the phone, one can interacts with one’s bank, open an account, fund the account, pay for utility bills, buy recharge cards , pay for goods and services  and  other business transactions without going to the banking hall. 

Benefits of e-banking 

Undoubtedly, the use of technology has taken the organisations above the height of profits. It has given a great favour to the financial institutions by providing data storage, digital money, networking and other online services.

The integration of technology into the  banking operations  has  had a 360 degrees improvement on the  bank’s services in the industry.

Apart from saving time, the e-banking/ internet banking method facilitated eased transactions, create mobile service for bank users, reduce  congestion at bank location, reduce cost for both depositors and banking institutions and importantly endearing customers to flexible experiences that no one could have envisaged decades ago.


Although the use of technology, brought unlimited opportunities for banking institutions in Nigeria, it introduced its own peculiar risk through Cybercrimes which have negatively impacted the industry and the economy in no small measure.

In recent time, the nation’s financial system has been jolted by a new wave of cyber threats targeting Nigerians, banks, e-commerce and other daily financial activities.

However, the increase in the internet fraud, cyber crimes, identity theft among others, has continued to pose a risk to the safety of individuals and businesses and nation economy in general.

The threats are enormous to the citizens of any country and the situation is becoming worse on daily basis because major cyber attack in the recent years does  not only cause financial loss, but also leaked other sensitive information on the process. 

Bank’s loss to e-fraud, cybercrime

Available data showed that in 2018, commercial banks in Nigeria lost a cumulative N15billion ($39 million) to electronic fraud and cybercrime. This was a 537 per cent increase on the N2.37 billion loss recorded in 2017. The data showed that over 17,600 bank customers and depositors lost N1.9 billion to cyber fraud in 2018, with fraud rising by 55 per cent from the previous year. Another report revealed that Nigerian banks lost N3.5 billion between July and September 2020 to fraud-related incidences, representing a 534-percent increase from the same period in 2019, when it was N552 million. Nigeria’s Consumer Awareness and Financial Enlightenment Initiative has projected a $6 trillion loss by 2030 to cybercrime within and outside Nigeria. 

Cyber attack in developed countries

However,  Banks in the developed countries – irrespective of their advanced technology still have some people falling prey to cyber attacks from time to time.

For instance, UK finance, in 2020, recorded financial scams worth more than £135million. The scammers used cloned websites of investment companies and private banks.

Cyber security Ventures expects global cybercrime costs to grow by 15 percent per year over the next five years, reaching $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, up from $3 trillion reported in 2015. 

Reducing theft, robbery attack

In the midst of these challenges, First Bank of Nigeria Limited has continued to expand its security infrastructure to protect its customers, enabling them to carry out their banking transactions conveniently in a secure and timely manner.

The bank has been a key player in the industry as it remained at the forefront of ensuring the continued sensitization of customers towards putting them knowledgeably informed in ensuring that their account is protected at all times, especially in cases of being victims of theft or robbery attack.

Beyond the recurrent sensitisation of members of public and customers through emails, radio adverts and the bank’s social media handles, First Bank has shown example in advancing the growth of banking in Nigeria, extending to other business ventures beyond the financial industry.

The Bank also held several information security webinar to educate global community on the ways to stay scam smart. The webinar which was open to the public and the Bank’s customers helped to equip participants with vital information that enabled them make informed decisions, thereby promoting their safety while staying protected against possible risks and malicious attacks.

Promoting e-banking

The bank has carved out a niche for itself in terms being innovative by  sustaining its leadership position in its investment and leading role of promoting electronic banking through many FIRSTS.

For instance, the bank is first to achieve issuing 10 million cards, the first to launch the first cash deposit ATM in Nigeria in 2011 and many more industry leading innovative endeavours. It is evident that the Bank is leaving no stone unturned to reinforce its commitment to its customers / stakeholders, as FirstBank recognizes that TRUST of Customers/the public has remained a priceless currency that has seen it through the years while being nimble to reinvent itself, irrespective of its age and unprecedented role of being woven into the fabric of society for over an almost 128 year and still counting.

 Bank’s Safety measures 

First Bank has introduced different safety measures to ensure that customer’s account are safe in the case of theft of one’s phone, unauthorized access to one’s bank account or suspiciousness that the account has been hacked.

The safety measures include the dial of USSD *894*911 with one following the steps to restrict unauthorised access to one’s account.

The use of the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) service which includes the dial of (+234)14485500 from anywhere across the globe.

The Bank recurrently educates its customers through emails as well as campaigns on the social media Instagram/facebook/twitter etc) via videos, animations etc.

The bank in one of its video sensitisation   message notified  customers and public to take necessary precautions while making payments online. The bank also encouraged customers to always report any suspicious or fraudulent email, sms or calls by sending e-mails to one of First Bank website tagged [email protected].

The bank also cautioned customers not to release their card pin, password or any other personal account details to anyone through calls, texts , email, as First Bank will never request for any of such details through phone.

First Bank believe that Bank’s consistency of informing not just customers but the general public on the need to be scam smart and alert will go a long way to put customers at alert not to fall into victim of fraudster.

Steps on stolen  ATM/Mobile Phone  

As a  bank customers once your ATM or Phone get stolen, the area of concern at this point is the security infrastructure of the your service provider. FirstBank has created feature that the customer can activate immediately to block his/her account. If one loses phone, ATM or suspected that pin has been compromised, the customer can activate the post No Debit instructions or get your account blocked. Under this tense period just  dial *894*911# on any mobile phone, follow the prompts and enter the required information to block the account.

FirstBank Awards for combating e-frauds

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) rewarded FirstBank’s efforts at combating electronic fraud in the nation country.  FirstBank’s  FraudDesk emerged as the “Best FraudDesk” and the “most Cooperative FraudDesk” in the Industry during Nigerian Electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF) 2017 annual dinner and awards.

The awards, according to the bank, was a clear recognition of the efforts of FirstBank in combating electronic fraud as well as curbing cyber-crime, thereby frustrating all forms of criminal activities targeted at its valued customers in every nook and cranny of the country.

FirstBank’s world class Security Operations Center (SOC) and FraudDesk have capability to track and monitor customers transactions and carry out intervention efforts and recovery when the need arises, using advanced fraud analytics tools and security systems. The bank’s SOC facility with advanced Security technology runs a 24/7 operation with highly skilled staff and State of the art security tools and appliances.                              

MD’s remark

Speaking on the awards, Chief Executive Officer of FirstBank Group Dr Adesola Adeduntan said: “Given the growing adoption of alternative channels by the banking community in Nigeria and the increasing threat posed by cybercriminals on the Nigerian Payment System, protecting our customers is a challenge the banking industry will continue to face. The need to collaborate on all fronts in order to be steps ahead of the cybercriminals remains the only option available to combating cybercrime which is why FirstBank FraudDesk and other functions within its operation will continue to champion the industry collaborative spirit to ensure security and the protection of evolving electronic payment climate of the financial sector of the Nigerian economy.”

Adeduntan noted that “the world as a global village is associated with not just benefits but also risks of cyberattack and for individuals, businesses and governments to make the best out of the digital and online opportunities, they need to be deliberate in protecting themselves against cybersecurity threats.” 

He further noted that, “in today’s digital age, which the pandemic has accelerated the embrace, cyberattacks are occurring at an alarming rate across the world. As such, no individual, business, or government entity with digital and online presence is immune to cyberattacks; and the financial, physical, and legal implications of an attack can be significantly upsetting.”


In today’s global village driven by electronic banking and business activities, it remains the collective responsibility of everyone to combat the menace of cyber-fraud.

Since First Bank has provided  infrastructure with all the protective and security measures for the interest of the users, it is duty of customers to make use of the information and keep all their  sensitive  account details safe as they adhere to  all  things  learnt through email, social media, webinar training among others to prevent their accounts from being hacked.