By Dipo Olowookere
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is yet to fully register Polaris Bank Limited, the bridge bank it announced for the defunct Skye Bank Plc, Business Post has confirmed.
Last Friday, the apex bank withdrew the operating license of Skye Bank after running its affairs for over two years.
The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, had disclosed that Polaris Bank Limited would take over the assets and liabilities of the collapsed financial institution.
However, a check by Business Post on the registration status of Polaris Bank Ltd on Monday, September 24, 2018, showed that the bank was still undergoing registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), the agency saddled with the responsibility of registering businesses in Nigeria.
A search on the online portal of the CAC showed that Polaris Bank Limited was yet to be assigned with a registration number.
Though federal government claims business registration takes about 48 hours to complete, in reality, it sometimes takes a week to finish the process, going by few this newspaper has witnessed.
Efforts by Business Post to reach out to the CBN through its spokesman, Mr Isaac Okorafor, on why the bridge bank was not fully registered before taking over Skye Bank were futile.
However, as at the time of filing this report, the former web address of Skye Bank Plc, www.skyebankng,com, was already redirecting to www.polarisbanklimited.com with the old name still visible on the new website as seen in the picture below.
Access Bank Deploys Strategies to Dominate Agency Banking
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.
Ecobank Clinches ‘Excellence in Fintech-Banking Relationships’ Award
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Another feather has been added to the well-decorated cap of Ecobank Group as it recently clinched the Excellence in Fintech-Banking Relationships award at the Africa Fintech Summit.
The lender received this accolade in Washington DC, United States of America (USA) in recognition of its activities to support and facilitate fintech growth on the African continent.
The Group Executive, Operations & Technology, Ecobank, Mr Tomisin Fashina, who received the award on behalf of the bank, attributed the recognition to the pan-African bank’s unparalleled influence in Africa and its unwavering support and numerous initiatives aimed at fostering relationships with fintechs to jointly win in the marketing place, stressing that the bank has put structures and initiatives in place to collaborate and cooperate with fintechs to facilitate the bank’s vision of financial integration of Africa.
“As a bank, one of our strategic objectives is to bank 100 million Africans, across Africa. We won’t go out there with account opening documents to do this. We believe we can achieve that by collaborating and cooperating across the board, and the fintechs come into that space.
“We came out with Ecobank as a service, this is at the heart of why we published our sandbox to encourage fintechs, big techs and any player that wants to do business in Africa to ride on our platforms and help facilitate our vision of a financially integrated Africa. We see ourselves as a key player in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and we believe we are the ultimate bank to facilitate trade across Africa,” he said.
The Africa Fintech Summit is a global knowledge-sharing platform that connects innovators, regulators and entrepreneurs, facilitating conversations and partnerships that help them explore financial technology solutions to improve African individuals, economies and societies.
It is held twice a year in Washington DC and a selected African country and sees stakeholders from around the world assemble to chart a progressive course for fintech in Africa by mobilizing investments, hashing out enabling policies, and sharing growth strategies.
The programme, which was the seventh edition, also recognized TeamApt for Excellence in Digital Banking, PiggyVest- Excellence in Savings and InvestTech, Flutterwave-Excellence in Fintech Infrastructure, while Excellence in Blockchain Technology went to Appzone Group. Others are Excellence in Fintech investment – Future Africa, Excellence in Cryptocurrency – Paxful, Excellence in Ecosystem Research – Briter Bridges, Excellence in Cross-border Solutions – PAPSS, Excellence in Payments – Paystack, Excellence in InsurTech – Turaco, Excellence in Fintech and Lending – Payhippo, Excellence in Embedded Fintech – Cellulant and Excellence in TradeTech – AFEX.
Ecobank has many initiatives to support the growth of fintechs on the continent. The Ecobank Fintech Challenge launched in 2017 identifies and partners with fintechs that are ready to scale, providing them with mentoring, networking, support, and opportunities to access Ecobank’s 33 African markets, as well as opportunities to integrate with existing Ecobank digital offerings. This has recorded significant results and success stories since its inception.
Court Orders CBN, NDIC to Pay 1,116 Bank Workers N5.7bn
By Adedapo Adesanya
The National Industrial Court has ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) to pay over N5.7 billion as terminal benefits to over 1,116 bank workers affected by the re-capitalisation exercise of 2006.
The money is to be paid within three months from the date of judgment as failure to adhere to this will attract 10 per cent interest until liquidated.
Justice Paul Bassi, at the court sitting in Lagos on Monday, made the order while delivering judgment in the case filed by the 1,116 claimants who had approached the court since 2018.
The court also ordered the CBN and the NDIC to pay another N10 million as general damages to the claimants.
The ruling settles the battle that the parties have fought since the consolidation exercise of 2006 which saw banks recapitalised from N2 billion to N25 billion.
Some banks did not meet the recapitalisation requirements and this led to their banking licenses being revoked by the central bank which appointed the NDIC as the liquidator.
The bank workers then sued the two organisations demanding the payment of their terminal benefits.
The two defendants raised several objections, insisting among other things they were not the employers of the workers and the suit disclosed no cause of action against them.
In his judgment, Justice Bassi dismissed the preliminary objections of the defendants and held while they may have acted for the general good by raising the capital base of banks in the country, it should not be done at the expense of the former employees.
By revoking the banking licenses of the non-consolidated banks, the defendants interfered with the employment contracts of the bank workers, a contract which would ordinarily have run its natural course with the claimants paying their benefits at the end.
The court then ordered the CBN and the NDIC to pay the workers within three months from the date of judgment failing which it will attract 10 per cent interest until liquidated.
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