Worker’s Bank was the first Bank that could truly be called a people’s bank. The Bank wanted to distinguish itself through innovation and technology. In 1979, the Bank introduced the “Mary Anne All Day All Night Service”. This was the country’s first automated teller machine (ATM). Worker’s Bank in 1983 introduced a programme called the Varinstall plan to help people who otherwise would not qualify for a mortgage to buy their own homes.
The Bank also offered a Home Ownership Plan, through which borrowers could get loans to cover furniture and appliances as well as house and land. The bank did not cater for the 1986 tumble in oil prices which lead to salary cuts, retrenchment and unemployment. This lead to some customers simply walking into the branches and dropping their house keys. A comfortable VSEP package was offered to employees who wanted to leave. The Bank opened three days later on May 22 under new management. Within the first three years, the restructured Worker’s Bank (1989) was its feet again.
In 1983 the Bomb (a popular weekend tabloid known for the explosive quality of its salaciousness) published an article entitled “$1 Billion NCB debt headache”. The article put bad-debt portfolios of the National Commercial Bank and Workers’ Bank at $1 Billion and $800 Million respectively. The merger of the three indigenous banks, which had been under discussion since July 1992, could no longer wait.
The three banks had more than 27,000 shareholders and 100,000 depositors at risk. The Express Newspapers ran the headline “3-in-1 bank opens” to great shock of employees of the three banks. In 1993, the First Citizens Bank was registered with a nominal capital of $500,000.