N4.2b ITF Fund: Keystone Bank, MD Land in Big Trouble
By Dipo Olowookere
This might not be the best of time for Keystone Bank and its Managing Director, Mr Philip Ikeazor, because he may have some explanations to make to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
This is because the anti-graft agency has been urged to investigate an alleged transfer of N4.2 billion from Industrial Trust Fund’s (ITF) account domiciled in Keystone Bank.
This call was made on Monday by the House of Representatives.
It was gathered that a query dated December 2010 was issued by the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation claiming a total sum of N4.2 billion was illegally moved three times in November from ITF account to other accounts, all belonging to the same agency.
Vice Chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts, Mr Ibrahim Baba, noted that the Office of the Auditor-General questioned the propriety of moving the money without remitting N23.5 million interest accruing from the transactions to the agency’s account.
It further noted that the query also sought to know who authorised the transactions and for what purpose it was done.
But responding to the query, the Director-General and Executive Chairman, ITF, Mr Joseph Ari, explained that the transactions were made without the authorization of the agency.
Mr Ari said that the bank’s response in May 2012 explained that the withdrawal from ITF’s remital control account was done in error.
He emphasised that Keystone’s position is that it was a wrong posting but was later corrected.
Mr Ari said, “However within the days the money was moved, ITF wrote Keystone Bank to remit the interest to the account accordingly but the bank didn’t reply.
“We reported the matter to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the CBN advised that parties should sit down and discuss.
“However, we sat down with Keystone officials without finding a solution.”
Access Bank Issues AfriGO Card to Customers for Robust Payment Ecosystem
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
Access Bank has become the first financial institution in Nigeria to successfully issue the first live card of Nigeria’s national card scheme called AfriGO Card.
The card system is a product of a financial services business affiliated with the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), AfriGOpay, and was designed to meet the needs of the Nigerian payment industry.
The scheme is championed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and NIBSS to provide innovative solutions to users of financial services in Nigeria, Africa, and across the global markets.
The launch of AfriGO is another milestone in the development of a vibrant and rapidly expanding payments industry.
Consumers demand value in real-time, not just transactions, and with AfriGO, Access Bank says it can provide valuable card benefits, robust loyalty rewards, and a compelling incentive to utilize electronic payments rather than cash.
“It is with excitement that we announce that Access Bank, Nigeria’s largest retail bank with over 60 million customers, is the first financial institution in Nigeria to successfully issue the first live card of Nigeria’s national card scheme- AfriGO,” the Deputy Managing Director for Retail Banking at Access Bank, Mr Victor Etuokwu, said.
“The AfriGO Card has additional benefits because it is designed to facilitate the growth of Nigeria’s payment ecosystem, thereby supporting more tailored payment services.
“It will strengthen payment security, expand financial participation, guarantee data sovereignty, eliminate FX dependency, and provide Nigerians with several other benefits. Cardholders will enjoy increased affordability and more flexible payment options,” he added.
Speaking on the product launch, the Senior Retail Advisor at Access Bank, Mr Robert Giles, said, “The National card scheme operates locally, and it is tailored to the specific needs of the country. We have also recorded successful purchases on POS and ATMs, which began on March 14, 2023.
“Domestic ownership of a local card scheme eliminates demand on foreign exchange and reduces the cost of transacting. It will also help us partner with local fintechs and payment companies to build solutions on the AfriGO scheme that solve customers’ pain points.”
According to Premier Oiwoh, the MD/CEO of NIBSS, “The payments landscape in Nigeria has continued to evolve via seamless and convenient real-time electronic payment solutions driven by innovation and advancement in technology.
“The launch of our national domestic card scheme AfriGO is very timely; AfriGO will drive our financial inclusion goals amongst many benefits, and we are thrilled that Access Bank is the first bank in Nigeria to issue AfriGO cards to its customers.
“Access Bank has demonstrated the much-needed commitment to enhancing financial inclusion, and we urge other financial institutions to commence issuing AfriGO for more accessible and convenient payments for all Nigerians, regardless of their location or financial status.”
On her part, the Executive Director for NIBSS, Ms Aminu Maida, added, “With technological advancements, there are more options for payments, and the recently launched national domestic card scheme, AfriGO, gives us assured comfort on all financial transactions. We are excited that Access Bank is the first to key into our belief of AfriGO’s immense value to the Nigerian financial ecosystem.
Farmer Praises Stanbic IBTC for Innovative Agribusiness Financing Solutions
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
A poultry farmer, Mr Haissam Nawan, has commended Stanbic IBTC Bank, a subsidiary of Stanbic IBTC Holdings, for supporting the agricultural sector in Nigeria by designing innovative agribusiness financing solutions tailored for stakeholders in the industry.
Mr Nawan is the director of Sayed Farms Limited, a company which produces and distributes day-old chicks and frozen poultry products across the country.
He testified to how the lender has aided the achievement of his business vision, which is to be one of the biggest poultry producers in the country and engage in beneficial partnerships with small and medium farmers in Nigeria.
“We have witnessed massive expansions, starting from dealing with broiler production only to diving into other aspects of poultry production, including the sale of frozen meat. Stanbic IBTC played a pivotal role in this growth.
“What sets Stanbic IBTC Bank apart is how they handhold you through the growth process with proper guidance and financial structure. Indeed, they are your trusted strategic partner for growth,” Mr Nawan said.
The Head of Commercial Clients Coverage at Stanbic IBTC Bank, Mr Babatunde Akindele, reiterated the determination of the bank to continue to support the growth and development of the Nigerian agricultural sector.
“Agriculture is pivotal to national growth, and its value chain house the goldmine for consumption and exportation. We will continue to ensure expansion in the sector through valuable partnerships such as we currently have with Sayed Farms,” he said.
The Stanbic IBTC Agribusiness financing solutions are structured to support production, processing, and logistics requirements across agricultural value chains.
The bank offers credit facilities for agribusinesses that minimize risks, are versatile, and can be used for finance raw materials, vehicles and other logistic needs, and all forms of equipment.
As the Head of Agribusiness at Stanbic IBTC Bank, Mr Wole Oshin, puts it, agribusinesses are critical for sustainable development and job creation in the country. Accelerating an inclusive agricultural sector will enhance a vibrant economy with extensive enterprise development, he noted.
“We are passionate about providing short-medium term financing solutions to solve the needs of crop and livestock producers, processors, their distribution chain, and other value chain players,” he disclosed, noting that Stanbic IBTC recognises the importance of agriculture to the Nigerian economy, and the organization is intentionally developing initiatives and fostering partnerships that support players in the sector.
Payday Raises $3m to Expand Footprints in UK, Canada
By Adedapo Adesanya
Payday, a pan-African neo-bank, has announced a $3 million Seed round led by Moniepoint Inc (formerly TeamApt) to continue boosting financial presence across Western markets, especially the United Kingdom and Canada.
The new round saw contributions from HoaQ, DFS Lab’s Stellar Africa Fund, Ingressive Capital Fund II and angel investors participating in the round. The angel investors who participated in Payday’s seed round are Mr Dare Okoudjou, Founder and CEO of MFS Africa and Mr Tola Onayemi, CEO of Norebase.
In addition, existing investors, Techstars, Angels Touch, Ingressive Capital & Now Venture Partners, made follow-on investments in this round.
This new round of funding brings Payday’s total investment to $5.1 million, following the over $2 million pre-seed round closed in 2021.
The new capital raised is for licensing to get their UK entity and operations off the ground while expanding to Canada. The company will also grow its talent base by 40 per cent to 50 employees, many of whom will come into its customer success department.
Also, the round sees two new talents join its co-founding team, Mr Elijah Kingson, Payday’s CPO and Mrs Yvonne Obike, Payday’s COO. The former previously led product design for subscription products at Revolut, the London-based neo-bank with over 25 million customers, while Mrs Obike drove MSME growth at Nigeria’s Bank of Industry, the country’s oldest and most significant development institution.
In January, it launched version three of its product, Payday 3.0, signalling an evolution into a super app with features such as local bill payments, virtual naira cards, and payment links.
In February 2023, Payday became a payment partner for Starlink, operated by SpaceX. Thus, it provides a payment method for its users in Nigeria and Rwanda, where Starlink can be purchased on the continent.
Payday claims it has processed an average of 40,000 transactions per day worth millions of dollars and adds 100,000 users monthly, bringing its base to 330,000 users.
Speaking on the new round, Mr Favour Ori, CEO and Founder of Payday, said, “This investment represents a significant milestone for our company, and we are grateful for the trust and commitment shown by our existing and new investors.
“We’re thrilled that this round of funding will lay the foundation for the continued growth of our platform as we expand our services to a wider audience.
“Our passion for empowering individuals and businesses with convenient and secure payment solutions is tangible. This funding will allow us to do so even more.”
Commenting on Moniepoint’s first-time investment in the company, CEO Tosin Eniolorunda says, “At Moniepoint, we’re excited about the unique things Favour and the team are doing with Payday. Personally, I connect deeply with his drive, technical depth, and desire to execute. The urge to encourage that fire inspired us to want to be a part of this.
“More important is the alignment in our goal to provide financial happiness by addressing key payment pain points—Moniepoint with merchants and Payday with individuals. We see a potential to leverage their infrastructure further to deepen our suite of financial services for merchants, and we’re looking forward to all that’s to come”.
Mrs Maya Horgan Famodou, Founder and MD at Ingressive Capital, said, “Favour is one of the savviest entrepreneurs I have met. He knows how to assess, execute, and pivot exactly when necessary. Hence why Payday has seen such explosive growth. This is certainly a gem in our portfolio. I’d bet on Favour and Payday again any day, both to realise the transformational value and also to make us proud with an exit the ecosystem will reference for years to come”.
Mr Sunil Sharma, Managing Director at Techstars Toronto, stated, “A word that best describes Favour Ori is relentless,” says Sunil Sharma, Managing Director of Techstars Toronto and one of the earliest investors in Payday. I was struck by his personal story, which took him from Nigeria to the US for his computer science degree and some valuable early work experience, then to Rwanda to establish a team, then to the UK and back to the US in pursuit of growth. Favour is always in search of opportunity, and nothing can get in his way.”
Payday was launched by Mr Ori in June 2021 from Rwanda to facilitate global payments from and to Africa, with a widespread use case for remote African workers to receive payments from their employers and spend anywhere in the world. Its incorporation in Rwanda and admission into Techstars Toronto accelerator made it the first time the latter admitted a Rwandan startup into its three-month accelerator programme.
The fintech startup allows those on the continent and in the diaspora to send and receive money in 23 currencies, including USD, GBP, and EUR, from over 130 countries. Thus, Africans who work remotely can receive their money in foreign currency and withdraw in the currency of their choice using virtual Mastercard and Visa cards. Alongside Rwanda, Payday is operational in Nigeria and, more recently, the United Kingdom.
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