SunTrust Bank (STB) Limited, a newly-licensed regional bank, began operations yesterday with a pledge to be technology-driven. Its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Muhammad Jibrin, said the bank was the first to be issued fresh licence by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) since 2001. Jibrin said STB started about six years ago as a mortgage bank, adding that it would be a financial technology institution that would focus on electronic channels by offering telephone, mobile and internet banking services. He said: “Banking is no longer where you go to, it is what people do. Therefore, the only thing that can stand the future is no longer physical branches, but banking services would be driven by technology. “Therefore, most customers of tomorrow would no longer be the customers that want to go to the banking hall. So, you need to be able to position the institution to respond positively to the needs and expectations of customers of tomorrow. That is at the heart of our own vision and strategy as tomorrow’s bank today.” The President of the Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, hailed the bank for taking such as bold step. He added: “It might be easy for us to be overwhelmed by many challenges we face as business people. The lack of growth in the major economies of the world, the declining commodity prices in general, the weakness in our economy and the difficulty faced by the banking sector all over the world. “But throughout my business life, I have learnt that problems and difficulties are also great opportunities. People can make quite a lot out of difficulties and I think our difficulties in Nigeria today should be turned to opportunities. In this period, you need the courage to attack when others are retreating. “As you know, in Lagos, we have many projects that we are doing and we are not retreating. We have continued to invest in this downturn, with expectation that our investment would actually pay a handsome reward as the cycle turns. I congratulate you for taking this step when banks all over the world are facing multiple headwinds. I am excited that this courage would be rewarded in the near future.” The banker’s Chairman Mr. Charles Onyema Ugboko, said establishing a bank in this harsh economic situation showed that the board and management are committed to the economy’s growth. Oba of Lagos Rilwanu Akiolu urged the bank to remain focused. He appealed to the management to ensure that at least 30 per cent of its employees are Lagosians. Obi of Onitsha Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe said going into business at this time when “everybody else is trying to get out of business, takes a lot of courage, and to go particularly into banking takes triple courage. “But, even such occasion throws up opportunities to those who can see far and beyond. It is the courage of the founders of this bank that I want to applaud. If you are just coming in to be another bank, then it is not worth coming in. “So, you have to come in as a bank with a difference. You must change the game. Service and quality should be your focus. I personally believe that the cost level of banks is very high, so if you can bring your own down, you will win.