By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Tier-one financial institution in Nigeria, Access Bank Plc, is not resting on its oars despite recently hitting a milestone of having 100,000 banking agents spread across the country.
The lender is planning to dominate agency banking business in Nigeria and to achieve this, it wants to further increase its footprint by having a minimum of 50 agents in each of the 774 LGAs across the country.
According to the bank, this is part of efforts to deepen financial inclusion, increase its customer base and deepen the wallet share of the banking population through the Access Closa agency banking platform.
In a chat with newsmen recently, the Group Head of Agency Banking at Access Bank, Ms Chizoba Iheme, noted that due to the limited number of financial institutions, especially in rural areas, Access Closa is Access Bank’s strongest retail channel used in providing banking services to a large population of unserved and underserved Nigerians.
“Our plan is to bank one in two Nigerians as this will see us increase our customer base and deepen our wallet share of the banking population.
“Going by the high youth and adult population, the resources of Nigeria’s financial institutions are being overstretched in providing physical and human resources and were unable to cope with gaps that existed in meeting banking needs of Nigerians hence the need for Agency Banking as envisaged by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2013,” Ms Iheme was quoted as saying in a statement from the lender on Wednesday.
“Therefore, agency banking helps financial institutions decongest crowded branches by providing a matching and more often convenient channel for their customers. In instances where reaching customers in rural areas is often highly expensive for financial institutions because transaction numbers and volumes do not cover the cost of a branch, agency banking helps in serving them,” she added.
The banker said becoming an agent has become a means to empower and reduce unemployment in Nigeria, noting that, “Our commission structure allows an agent to earn up to N500,000 and more monthly in commission including incentives and opportunities for agents to grow their business and partner with a reputable brand is an attraction to the Closa brand.”
Furthermore, on risks associated with agency banking in the country and how Access Banks moves to mitigate it, she added: “There are four major risks that we have identified. These are technological, legal, and fraud/reputational assets.
“Technological Risk, to prevent software and hardware failures, the bank is investing in new infrastructure with the capacity to absorb service disruptions that will have minimal impact. As part of our onboarding process, the bank’s agents are required to execute a service agreement that stipulates the roles and responsibilities of each party.”
“Also, agents are trained at the point of activation on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Terrorism Financing. This training also takes place every year to reiterate the dangers and consequences associated with fraudulent actions.
“Besides, the bank has set a maximum daily limit on the amount and frequency of transactions that can be performed by an agent. Lastly, a quarterly risk profiling exercise is carried out on all agents for effective management,” Ms Iheme added.
Access Bank is the leading retail bank in Nigeria with over 600 branches and more than 40 million customers. The bank offers products and services tailored to suit the lifestyle of every Nigerian irrespective of age and demographic.
Cashless Policy: CBN Announces Fresh Cash Withdrawal Limits
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has placed new limitations on cash withdrawals from January 9, 2023, following the launch of the redesigned Naira notes by President Muhammadu Buhari last month.
In a letter seen by Business Post on Tuesday, all Deposit Money Banks (DMBS) and Other Financial Institutions (Payment Service Banks (PSBs), Primary Mortgage Banks (PMBs) and Microfinance Banks (MFBs) must not allow individuals and corporates to withdraw more than N100,000 and N500,000, respectively, while cheques above N50,000 shall not be available.
It noted that in line with the cashless policy of the CBN, all financial institutions must comply with the directives, which include, “The maximum cash withdrawal over-the-counter (OTC) by individuals and corporate organizations per week shall henceforth be N100,000 and N500,000 respectively.
The apex bank noted that individuals and companies intending to go above the fresh cash withdrawal limits should be ready to pay processing fees of 5 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively.
“Third-party cheques above N50,000 shall not be eligible for payment over the counter, while extant limits of N10,000,000 on clearing cheques still subsist.
“The maximum cash withdrawal per week via Automated Teller Machine (ATM)) shall be N100,000, subject to a maximum of 20,000 cash withdrawals per day. Only denominations of N200 and below shall be loaded into the ATMs.
“The maximum cash withdrawal via point of sale (POS) terminal shall be N20,000 daily.”
In compelling circumstances, not exceeding once a month, where cash withdrawals above the prescribed limits are required for legitimate purposes, the apex bank noted that such must not exceed N5 million and N10 million for individuals and corporate organisations, respectively.
It noted that this should be subject to the referenced processing fees in addition to enhanced due diligence and further information requirements.
The CBN noted that the financial institutions are required to obtain the following information at the minimum and upload the same on a portal created for the purpose, including a valid means of identification of the payee (National ID, International Passport, Driver’s License).
Others include the Bank Verification Number (BVN) of the payee, notarized customer declaration of the purpose for the cash withdrawal, and senior management approval for the withdrawal by the Managing Director of the drawee, where applicable, as well as the approval in writing by the MD/CEO of the bank authorising the withdrawal.
CBN, Stakeholders to Check Rising Wave of Cyber Attacks
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has assured information security stakeholders and the general public of its commitment to curb the rising cases of cyber attacks within Nigeria’s cyberspace.
This was disclosed by the Director of the Payments System Management Department of the CBN, Mr Musa Jimoh, in his keynote address at the annual Information Security Society of Africa – Nigeria (ISSAN) Cybersecurity Conference in Lagos.
He stated that the apex bank was firmly committed to building a sustainable payments ecosystem in the country.
He also commended ISSAN for organizing the event, stressing that the apex bank will continue to collaborate with organisations that are committed to addressing the rising activities of cyber attacks.
Also speaking, the President of the FinTech Association of Nigeria (FinTechNGR), Mr Ade Bajomo, said to adequately address the rising rate of cyber attacks, organisations should embrace collaboration and information sharing on cyber breaches.
According to him, keeping silence on the part of organizations that had been attacked would not help others, stressing that full disclosure, synergy, and information sharing on reported cyber-attacks and how it was managed would guide other organizations to put preventive and countermeasures in place.
He also called on organizations to constantly upgrade their technology to counter cyber-attacks, urging them to have a data backup.
On his part, the president of ISSAN, Mr David Isiavwe, said the conference was devoted to further exposing the new threats and trends in the cyber security space and also offering practical steps on what businesses and individuals need to know and do to check the rising tide of the activities of cyber-criminals.
He observed that cyber attackers are getting more sophisticated globally, which is an aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, stressing that greater awareness must be created to minimize attacks on businesses that may result in losses by various organizations.
Further, Mr Isiavwe, who is also General Manager at Ecobank, made a case for customer awareness as well as a collaboration by all stakeholders.
ISSAN is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the protection of Nigeria’s cyberspace, specifically and the entire cyberspace in Africa, generally.
Bank of the Year Award Shows Zenith Bank’s Resilience—Onyeagwu
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr Ebenezer Onyeagwu, has expressed satisfaction with the emergence of the financial institution as the Bank of the Year in Nigeria in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2022.
The award, which was announced by The Banker Magazine, Financial Times Group, United Kingdom, during the awards ceremony held in London on December 1, 2022, was in recognition of Zenith Bank’s strong management, sound business model and strategy, support for small businesses and efforts to cut energy consumption.
According to the Banker, Nigeria’s Bank of the Year award was among the continent’s most hotly contested this year, befitting the country’s status as Africa’s largest economy.
This is coming on the heels of the award as Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital by The Banker won by Zenith Bank earlier in the year.
Mr Onyeagwu, in his remarks, said, “winning the Bank of the Year attests to our tenacity as an institution despite a very challenging operating environment exacerbated by persistent macroeconomic headwinds.”
“Indeed, being recognised by The Banker – the world’s longest-running international banking title is an acknowledgement of the resilience of the Zenith brand as the leading financial institution in Nigeria and the West African sub-region,” he added.
Mr Onyeagwu lauded the founder and chairman of Zenith Bank, Mr Jim Ovia, for his guidance and pioneering role in laying the foundation and building the structures for an enduring and successful institution, the board for their outstanding leadership, the staff for their commitment and dedication as well as the bank’s customers for their unflinching loyalty to the Zenith brand over the years.
Regarded as the industry standard for banking excellence, The Banker’s Bank of the Year award is contested by the world’s leading financial institutions, with winners chosen across Africa, Asia-Pacific, Central & Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, North America and Western Europe.
Zenith Bank’s track record of excellent performance has continued to earn it numerous awards, including being recognised as Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital, for the 13th consecutive year, in the 2022 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking published by The Banker Magazine; Best Bank in Nigeria, for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria 2021 and 2022 in the World Finance Banking Awards; Best Corporate Governance Bank, Nigeria in the World Finance Corporate Governance Awards 2022; Best in Corporate Governance’ Financial Services’ Africa, for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, by the Ethical Boardroom; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria and Best Innovation In Retail Banking, Nigeria in the International Banker 2022 Banking Awards. Also, the Bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021, Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2020 and Retail Bank of the year, for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, at the BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards.
Similarly, Zenith Bank was honoured as Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020 and emerged winner in four categories at the Sustainability, Enterprise, and Responsibility (SERAS) Awards 2021, carting home the awards for “Best Company in Reporting and Transparency”, “Best Company in Infrastructure Development”, “Best Company in Gender Equality and Women Empowerment”, and the coveted “Most Responsible Organisation in Africa.
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