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Fintech Focuses More on Payments, Not Wealth Creation—Ecobank



Patrick Akinwuntan Ecobank Nigeria

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria Limited, Mr Patrick Akinwuntan, has challenged financial technology companies in the country to endeavour to create wealth for their customers.

The banker, while at the Fintech in Nigeria: State of Play, pointed out that the fintech industry was currently more active in payments than in wealth creation, which he said is the ultimate goal for financial inclusion.

He, therefore, called for greater collaboration among banks, telecommunication companies, fintech companies and respective regulators to stimulate the Nigerian economy and enhance savings and lending in the financial landscape.

According to Mr Akinwuntan, these will help to generate activities in the economy and expand wealth creation, stating that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been proactive in providing a regulatory environment for the collaboration of players with an emphasis on customer protection which has improved customers’ trust in using digital channels.

Mr Akinwuntan who commended the role fintechs play in facilitating payment, said “there is need to deepen their presence in lending and savings. This is why I maintained that collaboration between Fintech and banks is valuable.

“We are not at the stage of competition yet; we are at a situation where although we have our profitability interests, we will actually gain much more by collaborating”.

He added that “in the area of savings and lending, be it to the agriculture sector, the creative sector or the young graduates setting out to be entrepreneurs directly, the ability to save even in little bits creates a profile that would be able to attract lending that you can translate into economic value.”

Specifically, the Ecobank Managing Director stated that the Fintech industry rose to the situation especially in the payment space and increase in lending and savings during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in the country.

He noted that “between March and April, the number of transactions in the payment space for Fintech grew in multiples of close to 800 per cent. We saw significant participation of the Fintech industry in actually reaching more of the underserved in the market by reducing the cost of access and making these services available all the time either by using traditional banks or in collaboration with government agencies.”

Further, Mr Akinwuntan explained that Ecobank had uninterrupted banking services for its customers through its digital platforms and agency banking during the lockdown.

“We had invested significantly in our digital platforms; given the nature of Ecobank as a pan African institution, the only way we could reach every household was to leverage the digital platform.

“We saw a marked growth in the number of digital-based transactions as our customers continued in their way of life depending on these platforms. And most importantly is the use of our social media to drive advocacy with the stay safe campaign where we educated the masses on safety guidelines. We were ready for the situation giving the nature of our franchise. And with our agency banking push, people do not need to go beyond their neighbourhood to do a transaction.”

Also speaking, Director, Payment System Management, CBN, Mr Musa Jimoh, said the apex bank’s regulation is driven by innovation.

“We have come up with regulations that will enable all the participants to behave symbiotically. Our payment system directive will be driven by innovation in the banks. We don’t know what will happen in the future in terms of technological development, therefore we follow innovations and prepare a ground for all the participants to work symbiotically. A new innovation is studied before we provide the needed intervention in terms of policy derivative that will help everybody to participate”.

He observed that the coronavirus pandemic-induced lockdown provided an opportunity for banks to sell digital products, test their back up and business continuity processes and explore the technological services available and push for their financial services, noting that CBN is backing up these areas with relevant regulations to ensure all the participants with the payment and financial service space can actually conduct their service responsibly.

On priorities in the regulatory space especially those championing Fintech, Mr Jimoh said the apex bank currently operates both sandbox and the open bank regulation.

“The sandbox provides a regulated environment for startups who don’t have the financial strength to take authorization from CBN to go through the entire process of licensing to test their innovation.

“We are working hard to showcase an environment where startups can come to the regulatory sandbox to test their innovation and services without having the license yet,” he added.

He said further that “open banking regulation is a principle that will allow third-party to leverage on the existing bank accounts with the banks to get information and provide services. More like democratizing financial services where a person chooses the service provider that will provide services and the kind of services provided. As a Fintech, you will be able to connect to banks to provide value-added services.”

Fintech in Nigeria: State of Play is an Economist Intelligence Unit Research which examines key trends in the fintech sector in Nigeria and assesses both industry drivers and impediments to further growth.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.


NGX RegCo Sanctions Infinity Trust Mortgage Bank Over Price Sensitive Info



Infinity Trust Mortgage Bank

By Dipo Olowookere

The Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Regulation Limited has sanctioned a leading lender for the real estate sector, Infinity Trust Mortgage Bank Plc, for violating one of its listing rules.

In a regulatory document obtained by Business Post over the weekend, the mortgage bank was accused of failing to “disclose the confirmation of the appointment of the new Managing Director of the bank,” which the regulator could have an impact on the share price of the organisation on the stock exchange.

Last month, Infinity Trust Mortgage Bank, in a statement, announced the appointment of Mr Sunday Olumorin as its Managing Director, succeeding Mr Olabanjo Obaleye, who completed his tenure as the head of the company.

In the notice, the financial institution said the appointment, which was in line with its succession plan, was confirmed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on June 15, 2022.

“Having held various senior executive roles with the bank, Olumorin (an executive director in the bank) brings over 20 years’ experience of working across all areas of mortgage, finance, investments, consulting and real estate in Nigeria,” the statement said in part.

This development did not go down well with NGX Regco, which stated that the announcement went against “Rule 17.5: Price Sensitive Information, Rulebook of the Exchange 2015 Issuers’ Rules.”

In view of this, the regulator has forced the company to undergo mandatory compliance training (MCT)

According to the NGX, every listed company is required to provide timely information to enable it efficiently perform its function of maintaining an orderly market.

In accordance with the provisions of Appendix III: General Undertaking (Equities), Rulebook of NGX, 2015 (Issuers’ Rules) and NGX’s Circular No. NSE/LARD/LRD/CIR3/17/05/12 on publication of announcements or press releases via the issuers’ portal, listed companies are required to obtain prior written approval from NGX RegCo before publications that affect shareholders’ interests are made in the media or via the issuers’ portal.

Also, NGX RegCo sanctioned Multi-Trex Integrated Foods Plc with an MCT for violating Rule 19.6: Submission of Notice and Other Information Documentation to the Exchange; Rulebook of the Exchange 2015, (Issuers Rules), as Guinea Insurance Plc was fined N453,600 for failing to “utilize the issuers portal to file sensitive information.”

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OnePipe Secures N2.25bn Collateralized Loan from TLG Capital



OnePipe financial service

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

A collateralized credit facility worth N2.25 billion designed to enable the provision of credit services to the informal sector in Nigeria has been secured by OnePipe.

The debt security-backed loan was provided by a pan-African alternative investments firm, TLG Capital, for the firm to scale up its operations and provide inventory finance to small shops in Nigeria.

According to a statement, the deal was completed by the TLG Africa Growth Impact Fund (AGIF), and it represents TLG Capital’s 34th investment.

OnePipe is a fast-growing financial infrastructure company that enables merchants to access goods on credit from larger distributors who work with OnePipe.

The company has built an extensive network of field officers and partners, including banks and payment service providers. It has also secured a strong roster of equity investors, including Atlantica Ventures, P1 Ventures, Norrsken Foundation, Techstars, Tribe Capital, V&R Associates, Canaan Partners, DFS Labs, Ingressive Capital, Acquity, Raba, Saison Capital, The Fund, and Two Culture Cap.

The investment by TLG Capital will allow OnePipe to expand its operations with a vision of becoming a leading provider of financial services to the informal sector in Nigeria.

According to the International Labour Organization, the informal sector accounts for over 85 per cent of employment in Africa.

Providing financial access to this sector is crucial for economic development and poverty reduction. OnePipe’s model is well-positioned to address this need, and TLG Capital’s investment will help to support this effort.

The CEO of OnePipe, Ope Adeoye, said, “TLG’s extensive experience structuring debt in Nigeria and their deep network across Africa, particularly in venture, made them the partner of choice as we look to scale. TLG is our first debt partner and has been a powerful resource in planning our growth and balance sheet strategy.

“Through this partnership, we’re looking to build the infrastructure to provide credit and payment services to the two-thirds of Nigerian business owners who don’t have access to effective and practical banking services.”

An investment professional at TLG, Isaac Marshall, while commenting on the transaction, said, “Nigeria’s $220 billion cash-based informal sector comprises 38 million enterprises that are the most neglected segment of Nigerian businesses, avoided by both the fintechs and traditional financiers.

“With a clever product to help these businesses to obtain both credit and better purchasing terms on their goods, OnePipe has pioneered a model that can provide sustainable income growth to tens of millions of micro-enterprises.”

TLG Capital’s investment in OnePipe aligns with several Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), and SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure).

By providing credit to informal micro-businesses, OnePipe is helping to create sustainable income growth and promote economic development.

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Participants Learn Compliance Requirements at Stanbic IBTC Trade Export Webinar



trade export webinar

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A trade export webinar to educate export business owners on the various regulations and compliance requirements, the best practices for finding the right partners, managing risk, using trade barometers, and building trade relationships with potential clients has been organised by Stanbic IBTC Bank, a subsidiary of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc.

The idea of the programme was to empower participants with the knowledge and resources needed to succeed in the export trade sector.

During the webinar themed Getting Your Business Export Ready, attendees gained valuable insights on successfully navigating the complexities of exporting goods and services in the export trade sector.

During his opening remarks, the Head of Enablement and Ecosystem at Stanbic IBTC Bank, Mr Olufemi Oyekola, noted that the exchange of goods through export and import activities determines the economic status of a nation.

He stated that the trade sector was a catalyst for rapid economic growth, which fosters international relations between countries, noting that an economy that would flourish must place more emphasis on exports than imports.

On his part, the Head of Africa China Banking at Stanbic IBTC Bank, Mr Chigozie Onyeocha, stated that, “At Stanbic IBTC, we are constantly on the lookout for the latest trends that support our agenda for business growth.”

Mr Onyeocha added that the webinar aimed to empower export business owners with the knowledge to prepare for headwinds, as World Trade Organization (WTO) economists predict a 1.0 per cent increase in global merchandise trade volumes, down sharply from the previous estimate of 3.4 per cent.

The panel session at the webinar featured seasoned veterans of international trade, who shared their experiences and provided practical advice to help businesses succeed in the global marketplace.

They also discussed the latest trends and developments in the industry, such as the trade barometer, the importance of e-commerce, trade growth of 2023, Africa-China Trade Solutions offerings, and exporting non-oil products.

The panellists included Bamidele Ayemibo, Lead Consultant, 3T Impex Trade Academy; Ifeoma Abdul, Manager, Trade Finance, Business and Commercial Clients, Stanbic IBTC Bank; Lu Fan, Senior Manager, Business Development, Africa China Banking, Business, and Commercial Clients, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Oluwaseun Odunsi, Export Trade Specialist, TPS Trade, Stanbic IBTC Bank.

Others were Philip P Myburgh, Executive Head, Trade and Africa China, Business and Commercial Clients, Standard Bank Group; Chigozie Onyeocha, Head, Africa China Banking; Olajumoke Bello, Head, Enterprise Banking, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Olufemi Oyekola, Head, Enablement, and Ecosystem, Stanbic IBTC Bank.

Attendees also learned about the services offered by Stanbic IBTC Bank to support their export operations, including trade finance, foreign exchange hedging, and international payment solutions. Stanbic IBTC Bank is committed to businesses in their efforts to expand globally.

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