Wema Bank, a Nigerian financial institution, has received a national banking license from the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The move will help the bank upgrade from its existing regional bank status.

Set up in 1945, Wema Bank delivers an array of retail and SME banking, corporate banking, treasury, trade services as well as financial advisory to its customers. The bank currently has a capital base of NGN43.8bn.

The Nigerian lender had in 2010 downscaled to operate only within its core business areas that included South-South, South-West as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.

Wema Bank CEO Segun Oloketuyi said: "This approval represents a milestone for the bank in the delivery of its Project LEAP commitments. Six years ago, we took a decision to refocus the bank’s operations on its areas of strength and build a sustainable institution.

"We took advantage of the new licencing regime and applied for a regional authorisation with a pledge to expand in the near future once the turnaround project was completed. The bank’s transformation was implemented in three phases: first to stabilise, second to prepare the building blocks for growth and third to go for growth."

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"To ensure that this approval is leveraged appropriately, we are already in the process of raising $100m in Tier 2 capital and would commence a Tier 1 capital raise in Q1 2016. This will further position the bank to pursue its growth strategy," Oloketuyi added.