By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The payment service bank of Airtel Africa Plc, Smartcash, has commenced operations in Nigeria with the launch of the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary at an event held in Lagos on Thursday.
The leading provider of telecommunications and mobile money services, which trades its shares on the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited, launched the PSB arm at the Eko Hotels and Suites with several personalities in attendance.
Some of the bigwigs at the event were the Group CEO of Airtel Africa, Mr Segun Ogunsanya; the Chairman of Smartcash PSB Ltd, Mr Kingsley Umadia; the Lagos State Commissioner for Finance, Mr Rabiu Olowo; Chief Human Resources Officer of Airtel Africa, Ms Rogany Ramiah; the Special Advisor to the President on Social Investments, Mrs Maryam Uwais; the Managing Director/CEO of Airtel Nigeria, Mr Surendran Chemmenkotil and the CEO of Smartcash PSB, Mr Muyiwa Ebitanmi, amongst others.
During the occasion, Airtel said the SmartCash PSB will provide secure and reliable financial services to customers across Nigeria after obtaining a license from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The firm, which has its headquartered in Lagos, will accept deposits from individuals and small businesses, carry out payment and remittance services within Nigeria, and issue debit and prepaid cards among other banking services.
SmartCash also enables person-to-person payment and transfers from across the world. The service is currently available at selected retail touchpoints, though it hopes to reach the 36.8 per cent unbanked adult population in Nigeria, as estimated by the Access to Financial Services in Nigeria report.
Plans are underway to expand the innovative, technology-driven services to all parts of the country, including the furthest and most remote, in an effort to accelerate financial inclusion for all Nigerians.
“The launch of SmartCash Payment Service Bank gives us fresh impetus at Airtel Africa to continue growing our footprint in the continent and delivering innovative solutions.
“In the bank, we have the best of both worlds – a hybrid of commercial bank and mobile financial services – offering last mile connection to the financially excluded. Through it, we want to contribute towards driving financial inclusion in Nigeria, to empower Nigerians while transforming the payment landscape in Nigeria and the rest of Africa,” Mr Adesanya stated.
On his part, Mr Ebitanmi said: “Through SmartCash Payment Services Bank, we aim to bridge the financial divide by providing rural and urban Nigerians access to innovative, highly secured and reliable banking services that are powered by technology and are relevant to their needs.”
Polaris Bank in Safe Hands, No Need to Panic—Management
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The management of Polaris Bank Limited has urged its customers and members of the public not to panic over reports that the financial institution has been sold to a new investor, Mr Auwal Gombe, in the sum of N40 billion.
It was recently reported that efforts are being made to hand over the lender to the businessman, who is said to be an ally of former military president, Mr Ibrahim Babangida, after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) nationalised the defunct Skye Bank Plc into Polaris Bank in 2018.
In a statement issued on Friday in Lagos, the bank described the report of the purported sale as not only “speculative” but done to deliberately “create panic” among its customers and the banking community.
The company said the CBN established it and injected funds for its operations, it has bounced back to profitability, with a solid balance sheet, saying there is no cause for alarm as the bank was in safe hands.
“Stakeholders may recall the regulatory intervention in the erstwhile Skye Bank by the CBN and the subsequent injection of capital via the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) through a bridge bank process, which birthed Polaris Bank in 2018.
“The bank has since stabilised its operations following the intervention; improving its balance sheet, customer base and profitability,” a part of the notice today said.
Continuing, Polaris Bank noted that, “Whilst the intention has always been to return the bank to private ownership, such a sale would occur following regulatory approvals with formal notification to all relevant stakeholders,” expressing its commitment to “ensuring timely communication to the public in such an event.”
“The board and management hereby reassure its customers, staff and the general public that Polaris Bank remains a stable, strong and credible financial institution, positioned to deliver sustainable value to all its stakeholders,” the statement concluded.
Wema Bank Refutes Dud Cheque, Forgery Allegations
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The management of Wema Bank Plc has rubbished an allegation that it issued a dud cheque in connection with a garnishee proceeding for the payment of a judgement debt on behalf of the Bayelsa State Government.
A legal practitioner, Mr George Haliday, had accused the financial institution of issuing dud cheques but in a statement issued on Wednesday, the lender explained that the cheques have only not been cleared for payment because of the subsisting appeal at the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on the garnishee proceeding which has now been decided in its favour.
According to the statement, the lawyer only ran to the Magistrate Court in Abuja to lodge a complaint about the issuance of dud cheques after he lost his case at the appellate court.
“It is very worthy of note that the judgement debt against Bayelsa State Government, which Barrister George Haliday attempted to enforce by a garnishee proceeding, thereby leading to the issuance of the cheques in question had been settled by Bayelsa State Government via a Terms of Settlement between Barrister George Haliday and the Bayelsa State Government at the Supreme Court,” a part of the statement.
Recently, there were reports that the Managing Director/CEO of Wema Bank, Mr Ademola Adebise, was issued an arrest warrant, but the bank dismissed this, saying its leader was not given a fair hearing in the matter.
“Wema Bank wishes to state that the warrant for the arrest of Mr Ademola Adebise is in violation of his fundamental rights to fair hearing as he was never personally served with any process to appear before the magistrate court nor was he represented in court.
“We are a law-abiding corporate citizen; if there was any court summons properly served on the Managing Director for his appearance in court, he would have done so without fail.
“But in this case, there was no such service extended to him or any court processes personally served on him to appear in court until a warrant of arrest was issued in absentia. We view the arrest warrant as being an infringement on his fundamental rights,” the statement said.
Concluding, the lender emphatically refuted and dismissed “in their entirety, the allegations of dud cheque and forgery levelled against our bank and the Managing Director. We also dismiss the inappropriate issuance of a bench warrant on our Managing Director.
“We are already engaging in legitimate actions to seek redress and bring all the perpetrators of these unprofessional conducts and heinous criminal acts against our Managing Director and the bank to book.”
Advans Nigeria Becomes Most Innovative Microfinance Bank
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
More big feathers have been added to the colourful cap of Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank, cementing its leadership position in the small lending business in Nigeria.
Recently, in recognition of its customer-centric credentials and innovation in product development, service delivery and brand management, the financial institution was named the Best Microfinance Bank in Nigeria at the Financial Derivatives Awards 2022.
Also, the company emerged as the Most Innovative Microfinance Bank in Nigeria in the Global Brands Magazine and World Economic Magazine Awards 2022.
The Managing Director/CEO of Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank, Mr Gaetan Debuchy, while reacting to the accolades bestowed on the firm, dedicated the awards to the working management and staff of the bank, promising that the bank would continue to break boundaries.
“We are excited to win these awards. It further validates our innovative approach to providing customer-centric, affordable and transparent financial services,” Mr Debuchy said.
Also, the Head of Marketing and Communication at Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank, Mr Kayode Abraham, stated that, “Over the years, we have centred our business on customer needs and feedback, which has helped us develop financial solutions from scratch to completion. We are pleased to be recognised as the most innovative and best microfinance bank in Nigeria.”
Earlier in the year, Advans Nigeria upgraded its mobile banking app ‘Adspire’ to include users’ ability to request bank statements and control their daily transaction limit. Through the app, clients can receive notifications and share by referring their friends and loved ones.
The bank recently introduced a micro-health insurance product and an education loan to facilitate financial inclusion.
The health insurance product was designed to ensure existing and prospective clients have access to high-quality and affordable health care services, while the education loan was designed to provide working and investment capital for school owners and to assist parents in paying their children’s school fees with ease.
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