By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Two key awards were clinched by Ecobank Nigeria Limited at the just-concluded 2021 Banks and Other Financial Institutions’ (BAFI) Awards.
At the prestigious 2021 BAFI Awards held in Lagos over the weekend, the bank emerged winner of the Market Confidence and Capital Structure Transaction of the Year for its unsecured $300 million bond, a fixed-rate 5-year Dollar-denominated bond launched early in the year.
The lender also went home as the winner of the Female Economic Advancement Bank of the Year for its sustained support for female entrepreneurs and the development of savings and loans products specifically aimed at women through its Ellevate program.
These two awards, which were keenly contested by other highly-rated financial institutions, made Ecobank the cynosure of all eyes when it was called to the podium to pick them.
“The strong demand for our bond shows the international appetite for the Ecobank franchise in Nigeria, its unique positioning for facilitating pan-Africa trade and the attractive opportunity for the many investors seeking to back world-class Nigerian corporates,” the Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Patrick Akinwuntan, commented on the awards.
He also noted that “with the Ellevate program, Ecobank aims to empower 40 million women, being a gender-based proposition designed to empower women-owned and managed businesses in Nigeria, as well as in the 33 African countries and beyond where Ecobank has a presence.”
According to the BusinessDay Research and Intelligence Unit (BRIU), the impressive strength and depth of the book on the Ecobank’s $300 million bond transaction signalled solid global investor confidence in the financial institution at a time when Nigeria was racked by a perfect storm: a COVID-19 pandemic, economic recession in the 4th quarter, and a year of falling oil prices. It reiterated that further proof of market confidence and demand was seen when the bonds were listed on the London Stock Exchange.
“The success also stamped market faith in Ecobank Nigeria’s prospects, as it was the second major bond sale by Ecobank Nigeria in the space of two years; the first being an oversubscribed N50 billion Tier-2 issuance in December 2020,” the unit stated.
On the Ecobank Ellevate proposition, BRIU said, “Ellevate program, which is designed for businesses owned by women, managed by women, have a high percentage of female board members or employees and companies manufacturing products for women, received special attention of the BAFI Awards Review Panel for its comprehensiveness.
“A fully 360º solution, it cuts across Cash Management & Collections, Liability & Loans, and Support & Development. Being an inside-outside award that adheres to the charity begins at home principle, Ecobank as the winner of the Female Economic Advancement Bank of the Year Award has demonstrated a commitment to creating a work environment that allows its female employees to thrive to their full potential within the bank.”
“Ecobank was chosen based on the diversity and scope of Ellevate which is specifically developed for women; being a strong SME banking proposition since many women-owned and women-led businesses fall into this category; a clear, articulated vision to become a Bank of Choice for women through training of product development specialists, marketers, and customer service agents on the needs of women; and the service to female customers beyond providing loans, as advice and support are critical to business success anywhere in the world,” it explained.
Earlier, the Publisher of BusinessDay, Mr Frank Aigbogun, said the BAFI Awards is backed by BRIU, noting that nominations for the BAFI Awards were the culmination of a rigorous review process.
He said BRIU and an independent panel of judges evaluated more than 250 institutions and benchmarked them against their global peers using several indices in a thorough evaluation process and nominees were assessed for their vision, execution, and market-leading propositions.
He added that they also considered factors like corporate values, integrity, workplace culture, gender balance, and other human issues.
The BAFI award categories cut across banking, insurance, capital markets, investment, pension funds, trustees, registrars, stockbroking, and private equity.
Airtel’s Smartcash Payment Service Bank Begins Operations in Nigeria
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.”
New, Existing Customers of Stanbic IBTC to Enjoy Non-Collateralised Digital Loans
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
New and existing customers of Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc have been assured of non-collateralised digital loans at any time of the day for their personal and business use
The chief executive of the lender, Mr Wole Adeniyi, explained that customers can access the affordable funding from N20,000 to N20 million from any location 24/7 without having to visit the branch and without paperwork as they are all digitised end-to-end.
He stated that the Stanbic IBTC Digital Loans come in various packages like Stanbic IBTC Unsecured Personal Loan, Top-Ups, Smart Loan, EZ Cash, and Device Financing.
It was explained that through the Stanbic IBTC Smart Loan solution, customers of the bank who also have mutual fund investments with Stanbic IBTC Asset Management can access up to N20 million instant loan to finance personal and business projects while their investments continue to earn them returns.
With the upgraded Stanbic IBTC Unsecured Personal Loan, salary earners can apply for a top-up of existing loans through their mobile devices from the comfort of their homes.
Similarly, with Stanbic IBTC EZ Cash, customers can access loans of up to N7.5 million via the bank’s USSD code *909*44#, the My Bank Module of the Stanbic IBTC Mobile App and the bank’s online banking portal. Customers can access loans quickly and conveniently with up to 48 months of repayment, depending on the loan type.
“The Stanbic IBTC Digital Loans, which are available via our Super App, our website, our *909# USSD service and Internet Banking, help alleviate some of the challenges individuals experience in meeting urgent financial needs.
“The loans are available to both new and existing customers of Stanbic IBTC and are geared towards helping customers meet their financial obligations at any time, no matter the urgency,” he stated.
“Customers, through the Stanbic IBTC Device Financing solution, can acquire new mobile devices from MTN partner stores and enjoy additional benefits such as 4GB data, 100 minutes talk time monthly and insurance against loss and screen damage,” Mr Adeniyi added.
He assured that the company would continue to design financial solutions that will meet the needs and enhance the financial growth of its esteemed customers.
“With economic empowerment as a core pillar of our corporate social investment initiatives, we remain committed to ensuring not only the growth of our customers but also their business activities,” Mr Adeniyi concluded.
It was gathered that the funding packages were designed by Stanbic IBTC as part of efforts to assist Nigerians with financing and also to address the challenges facing individuals in accessing finance.
Ecobank Named Best Trade Finance Bank in West Africa
By Adedapo Adesanya
Ecobank has been named the Best Trade Finance Bank in West Africa at the prestigious Global Trade Review’s Leaders in Trade awards held in London last month.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the lender announced that the award comes as recognition of its solutions for domestic and regional supply chain financing across key trade corridors as well as the bank’s arranger roles and participation in key soft commodities campaign financing across West Africa, notably covering cotton, cacao, soya beans and cashew nuts.
Ecobank’s offerings are supplemented by its state-of-the-art E-trade module under the Omni Plus platform and its products are positioned to support both Corporate and Investment Banking and SME customers in leveraging on the African Continental Free Trade Area’s opportunities and growing intra-African trade.
The judges also recognized Ecobank’s Trade Services solutions, which led the bank to command significant market share on Letters of Credit across the continent, leveraging on its Paris-based affiliate, Ecobank International, for confirmations, payments, and discounts.
Commenting on the recognition, Mr Souleymane Diagne, Group Head, Trade Finance, Ecobank, said: “As a Pan-African bank with the largest footprint across the continent, a major ambition of Ecobank is to be the preferred trade bank for SMEs and corporates across Africa. We are committed to enabling them to take advantage of the immense growth opportunities fostered by the game-changing African Continental Free Trade Area.
“This accolade from Global Trade Review provides welcome recognition of the impact we are making through our suite of trade products and solutions, which include Structured Trade and Commodity Finance, Trade Services and Supply Chain Finance.
“For our customers and partners in West Africa and throughout sub-Saharan Africa, we are resolved to continue delivering value through our trade and multi-currency payments solutions, leveraging on our African expertise and our network’s advantage.”
Ecobank works closely with clients and leverages partners within and outside Africa in reviewing key aspects of transaction dynamics, including settlement, financing, risk mitigation, credit enhancement, syndications and applicable regulations.
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