By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Last week, one of the mid-tier lenders in Nigeria, Diamond Bank Plc, held two editions of its 64th business seminar for small and medium scale business owners within the Lagos and Ibadan metropolis.
This was in line with its commitment to fuel economic growth in the country through support for the sector of the economy.
During the seminars, which were held simultaneously, the small business owners were educated on tax affairs to give them business advantage in the competitive world of business.
Speaking at the Business Seminar held at the NECA House in Alausa, Lagos, the Chief Executive Officer, Diamond Bank Plc, Mr Uzoma Dozie, said Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria have not thrived because they did not have the proper resources and good documentation of tax payments to stay afloat.
“There are businesses which are successful today but evade paying taxes to the government which is very wrong, in some cases, these companies did pay taxes but did not document it well and so they found themselves paying taxes that they were not supposed to pay so there is a need to pay taxes as these taxes paid are used to create the working business and friendly environment we crave for.”
The Ibadan edition of the 64th Diamond Business seminar which was held at the Segun Aganga Hall of the International Conference Center, University of Ibadan, was part of Diamond Bank’s effort at growing indigenous businesses for business owners who are customers of the bank to get information on how to grow their businesses and acquire the required skills that can get them funding.
While speaking on the theme for the Lagos edition of the 64th Business Seminar ‘Be the boss of your tax affairs’, Partner at PwC, West Africa, Mr Taiwo Oyedele, explained that countries where tax is paid have better governance, adding that the government needs to do more to educate the public on approved taxes meant for collection by the local or state government.
He revealed that Nigeria makes $25 billion from tax collection yearly when compared with $6 trillion the United States of America makes from tax and urged Nigerians to pay attention to tax affairs.
Speaking at the Ibadan edition of the seminar, the Area Manager of the financial institution, Adenike Ogunsugba, stated that Diamond Bank organized the seminar to satisfy the yearning of its customers, build their capacity and give them tips on how to grow their businesses, adding that it is a platform for them to dialogue with the bank and tell the bank their expectations and how also learn from experts on how to expand their business.
“This seminar is to build the capacity of our customers and teach them how to grow their business as part of fulfilling the value promises we made to you and open you up to opportunities available at the bank to help grow your business and the services you can explore for expansion.
“There are a lot of services we have that you can explore though many do not understand the advantages, one of such is the Diamond Business Advantage account which allows you to assess funding without collateral,” Ogunsugba said.
The keynote speaker in Ibadan, Preye Jimoh, the Managing Director of Dovas Spa Group and a financial expert while speaking on the topic, ‘Achieving business expansion: Relationship between accessing finance and basic book keeping’ stated that without a business plan and up to date financial records, a business owner cannot say whether he is making headway or sinking.
She concluded by saying, a business owner without financial records can be likened to an individual driving with a blindfold on. “Without a financial record, you will not know if you are making profit or not. Income is different from profit and the only way you know if your business is making profit is through financial records.
“You also need to keep proceeds in a bank, let there be a trail so that you make the work of your auditor easier. These records will help with financing because a business without proper book keeping cannot access loans.
“There are 37 million small and medium scale businesses in Nigeria and they contribute 48 percent of the gross domestic product,” she said.
Unity Bank Launches Anti-fraud USSD Code for Customers
By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel
Unity Bank Plc has unveiled a new code on its USSD platform to help customers stem the risk of fraud in electronic banking.
The new anti-fraud USSD code, which is *7799*9*Phone Number#, will completely put customers in control of their bank accounts against any e-banking fraud, as it can be dialled to successfully block and protect an account from a third-party mobile device if fraud is suspected.
During the unveiling of the new USSD dial, the Directorate Head, E-Business, Retail & SME Banking, Mr Funwa Akinmade, said executing measures to safeguard its e-banking platforms with enhanced safety and security features was a top priority amidst the rising rate of cyber-crime victimization.
He said: “With fraud concerns on major payment channels across Nigeria, every player in the financial services industry in Nigeria must think of a way to stay ahead of its game.”
“With the added USSD feature that allows customers to block their accounts using *7799*9*Phone Number# code, even from a third party device, we have given greater empowerment to customers to transact freely on our USSD platform.
“With the USSD feature, being available to both smartphone and feature phone users, it means even the least digital-savvy customers of Unity Bank can effectively use the new anti-fraud code.”
He also revealed that since the code has been made available in Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba languages, it will cover the majority of customers across the country who are looking for safe banking.
In view of the latest banking industry fraud report by Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) which showed a 534 per cent increase in cyber fraud rate, and a total of N3.5 billion loss in the previous year, the lender said the new USSD dial was a strategic move to facilitate seamless and secure banking transaction within its e-banking channels.
Customers can now block and protect access to their bank accounts in the case that fraud is suspected, then they can walk into any branch of Unity Bank to request reactivation.
CBN Tracks Forex Sales at Commercial Banks
By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel
The Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) is already tracking how commercial banks in the country are complying with the sale of foreign exchange to their customers.
Recall that last Tuesday, the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, announced that the apex bank will no longer sell FX to Bureaux De Change (BDC) operators and will also halt the issuance of licenses to them.
He disclosed this after the two-day Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting held in Abuja, maintaining that the BDCs had become a useful channel for illicit forex flows, especially at the unregulated segment of the FX market.
In his words, “We are concerned that BDCs have allowed themselves to be used for graft.”
He said instead, the CBN will now begin to sell FX to commercial banks, which are required to set up teller points specifically for customers with genuine forex requests.
But several analysts expressed pessimism over the ability of deposit money banks (DMBs) to be faithful with the sale of FX to retail users.
They claimed banks have already been involved in roundtripping, which the central bank accused the BDCs of doing.
However, to avoid this, the apex bank said it has put in place a monitoring mechanism that tracks forex sales at commercial banks, assuring the general public of seamless sale of the foreign currencies.
The CBN acting director in charge of the Corporate Communications Department, Mr Osita Nwanisobi, while briefing newsmen in Abuja, said commercial banks will always respond to the legitimate forex demands of customers.
He explained that lenders have demonstrated their commitment through their chief executive officers not to turn back on customers with legitimate forex requests.
In effect, a circulated notice tracked by this newspaper showed that various commercial banks have swung into action and have set up dedicated teller points across their branches nationwide, encouraging customers who want to buy Personal Travel Allowance (PTA), Business Travel Allowance (BTA), and make every other qualifying FX transaction, to approach their branches nationwide to get them.
Nigerian Lending Start-Up PayHippo Gets $125k Seed Fund
By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel
A Nigerian lending and business financing platform, Payhippo, has been accepted into Y Combinator’s Summer 2021 cohort, gaining access to a $125,000 seed fund and other networking and mentorship opportunities.
The one-year-old Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) co-founded by Mr Zach Bijesse (Cheif executive officer – CEO), Ms Chioma Okotcha (Cheif Operating Officer – COO), and Mr Uche Nnadi (Cheif Technology Officer – CTO) will be joining 167 startups across the globe to participate at the Y Combinator’s Summer 2021 batch.
The American seed funding accelerator, Y Combinator, offers seed funding for startups twice every year (winter and summer batch) and hosted their demo recently where they will invest $125,000 in selected startups, in exchange for 7 per cent equity.
Speaking on the development, Payhippo’s COO, Ms Okotcha disclosed that when the news of their acceptance into the outfit came in, the startup felt a little sceptical about the precondition that the accelerator gets a 7 per cent stake in startups they invest in.
In her words, “We had mixed feelings at first because 7 per cent of your company is a lot to give up. We called up a few YC alumni from our market and got their input.”
She, however, expressed optimism, revealing that joining the YC cohort will reinforce the startup’s credibility in the public eye and boost future collaboration.
“Ultimately, we went with Y Combinator because we saw how much we could learn from the YC partners and the overall network.
“We believe it’s already paying dividends both for operations as the brand name and global recognition of Y Combinator has brought interest from lending capital partners.
“The YC brand name signals to the job market that working at Payhippo means people can contribute and do meaningful work.,” Ms Okotcha further said.
Payhippo is a lending and business financing platform with a drive to serve 40 million small and medium-sized business that are unable to gain access to the funds necessary to grow their business, by leveraging on automated underwriting and credit assessment tools to create more financially equities across Africa.
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