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In Terms of Profitability, 2022 Will be a Big Year for Access Bank—Wigwe

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Access Bank Herbert Wigwe in terms of profitability

By Dipo Olowookere

The chief executive of Access Bank Plc, Mr Herbert Wigwe, has expressed optimism that the year 2022 will be big for the financial institution in terms of profitability.

He gave this assurance when he appeared a few weeks ago on CNN’s First Move with Julia Chatterley, where he spoke on the company’s aggressive expansion strategy.

“I think we’re on track. I think in terms of profitability, our different franchises are doing exceedingly well and I think 2022 perhaps is actually going to be a big, big year for the institution,” he said of the lenders’ outlook for this year.

Mr Wigwe stated that the acquisition of several banks across Africa, especially in the southern part, did not just happen as it was deliberately planned for years.

“It’s something that we’ve been planning as part of our corporate strategic planning 2017, and the whole idea has been to support our correspondent banking business, to support our payments business and to basically ensure that there is greater trade within the continent.

“So, for us, what are we doing? We’re basically making sure that we have a strong presence in all the major trade centres in the continent,” he said.

The respected banker further said the plan is to ensure Access Bank becomes the first bank to do business with on the continent, which will, in turn, boost the “profitability [of] our different franchises.”

When asked how the bank intends to succeed in the highly-competitive South African market, Mr Wigwe said Access Bank has all that it takes to become very successful in the space, noting that its success in the United Kingdom is there for all to see.

“We’re basically going to ensure that it (Access Bank) becomes a hub for the continent as far as correspondent banking services are concerned.

“We will help support corporate; their interest in niches in that market that are yet to be served. Without revealing so much more of the strategy, there are interesting markets that have not been served that will basically cater for,” he assured.

“But apart from that, you need to see also the context of a large layer in the continent and partly serve our operators in different parts of the continent and putting that whole network together is extremely, extremely important,” he added in the interview.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Banking

CBN Advocates Collaboration to Grow Payments Ecosystem

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ePayments Ecosystem

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is moving to strengthen the digital payments ecosystem and position Nigeria firmly on the global payments landscape with more collaboration.

This is in line with its commitment to deepen and stimulate the growth of digital payment in Nigeria and beyond.

This was the crux of a two-day event tagged Collaborating for Industry Growth and Profitability held by integrated digital payments and e-commerce company, Interswitch Group, where industry players gathered to discuss how to strengthen the ecosystem.

The industry leaders, drawn from banks, fintechs, micro-finance banks, telcos and other financial institutions, reached the resolve that designing innovative financial products which speak to the needs of customers will spur growth and economic prosperity.

The experts also noted that players in the financial space need to synergize to explore avenues for mutual growth, which will in turn create a robust payment ecosystem.

Speaking at the event, Mr Jimoh Musa, Director, Payment System Management Department, CBN, said the lender’s responsibility as a regulator is to create an enabling environment where all the entrants can thrive and compete healthily.

“We understudy all the interoperable operations of each technology company, and all the participants generally. And from time to time, we bring all these entities together to dialogue to enable us to decide what the best industry practice is in relation to Nigeria’s payment ecosystem.”

During the two-day event, Interswitch officially unveiled eight new products designed to address prevailing issues within the payments ecosystem, enhance business development and boost customer experience.

The products include Fintech-in-a-box; Fraud Solution-as-a-Service (FSAAS); Banking-as-a-Service; Payment-as-a-Service; Interswitch Security-as-a-Service; Mobile Banking-as -a-Service, and Biometrics on POS and Value financing.

These products are tailored to provide seamless payment solutions to banks, fintechs, micro-finance banks, other financial institutions and their customers. Essentially, these products will help to improve the digital payment solutions that financial institutions offer to their customers.

Critical points the products will be solving include protecting customers against digital payment fraud, effective value financing tools for lenders, seamless integration to payment channels, enhanced customer experience etc.

Speaking during the panel session, Mr Akeem Lawal, Managing Director, Interswitch Purepay, said players in the payment industry must collaborate to provide opportunities to co-create solutions that make digital payment safer and further drive profitability.

He said “Interswitch is committed to partnering with stakeholders to drive financial inclusion through its innovative products and solutions continuously. These products reaffirm the company’s continued drive to improving Nigeria’s digital payments landscape through innovation and the development of first-rate solutions and infrastructure that address pressing needs in the payments ecosystem”.

Mr Lawal further said Interswitch would continue to enter partnerships that will not only simplify payments but also drive prosperity across the continent.

The panellists noted that partnerships would allow players to increase revenue and grow faster, avail them opportunities to leverage one another’s infrastructure, drive financial inclusion and build a robust ecosystem, urging players to collaborate more to provide quality service for the end users to enhance growth and more opportunities.

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Banking

First Bank Stops Use of Naira Cards for International Transactions

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Naira Cards for International Transactions

By Dipo Olowookere

From Friday, September 30, 2022, customers of First Bank will no longer be able to use their Naira cards for international transactions, Business Post reports.

This development is triggered by the scarcity of foreign exchange (forex) in Nigeria, the financial institution confirmed in a message to its customers on Wednesday.

The lender disclosed that for customers to complete their offshore transactions, they would have to obtain multicurrency cards, which allow them to spend up to $10,000.

Nigerian banks have struggled to meet the FX demands of their customers because of a shortage in supply despite the prices of crude oil rising in the global market.

The government had blamed attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta region of the country as well as oil theft as the reason for low crude oil output.

It was reported that last month, the oil production of Nigeria went down below one million barrels, making it difficult for the nation to earn more from crude oil sales.

On Tuesday, Business Post reported that commercial banks in the country now opt for electronic transfer of forex into accounts of forex users instead of cash disburse due to a shortage in supply.

“Due to current market realities on foreign exchange, you will no longer be able to use the Naira Mastercard, Naira Credit Card, our Virtual card and Visa Prepaid Naira card for international transactions. This will take effect on September 30, 2022.

“Please use your Visa Debit Multicurrency Card, Visa Prepaid (USD) Card and Visa Gold Credit Card to continue transacting abroad with limits of up to $10,000,” the message sent by First Bank to its customers today stated.

Despite the apparent FX supply crisis in the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has maintained that those who genuinely need forex should go through the official market, which is primarily the commercial banks.

The apex bank had maintained that sourcing FX through the black market was illegal. It also described the platform as insignificant in the FX market, saying it only accounts for 5 per cent of the landscape.

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Banking

PecanTrust Disburses N5bn Loans to Customers in Six Years

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PecanTrust Microfinance Bank

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The fast-growing financial institution, PecanTrust Microfinance Bank, has disbursed loans worth N5 billion to customers in six years.

The lender started operations six years ago after it received a licence from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to operate as a financial institution saddled with the responsibility of giving loans to Nigerians.

Since it received this authority to operate as a microfinance bank, PecanTrust has focused on alleviating poverty by providing access to finance for affordable social infrastructure services, including healthcare, education and housing as well as prioritising women-led businesses.

In this period, the lender has remained consistent in its focus on increasing financial inclusion in Nigeria and reaching unbanked customers nationwide.

In line with this mission, the bank has designed tailored savings and loan products for these customers, such as the Pecan Ajo savings and other Pecan SME finance loans. The bank has also implemented an aggressive strategy to introduce its customers to its agency banking platform nationwide.

In addition to its financial inclusion strategy, the bank recently unveiled its USSD application with value-added features and service delivery levels to the market.

“We are delighted to have had a positive impact through our financial inclusion strategies. Currently, about 60 million adults are unbanked in Nigeria, which makes it the 5th largest country of unbanked citizens globally.

“So much still needs to be done in the industry to support the CBN towards the achievement of its financial inclusion goals.

“This is why we have continued to intensify efforts to reach the unbanked and ultimately help alleviates them from poverty. We believe with continuous steps in this direction, we can achieve our objectives,” A director of PecanTrust, Mr Taiwo Oshinusi, stated.

To accelerate growth and continue to support these strategic initiatives, and improve delivery to customers, PecanTrust has evolved into a hybrid microfinance business, building on expertise and its experience with the traditional banking business model, the bank is poised to launch its digital application in a few months to scale its business and reach a wider customer base while providing access to cheaper, faster, reliable financial services.

PecanTrust Microfinance Bank offers diversified savings and loan products and continues developing new products to meet the demand of the market.

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