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Nigeria Can Solve FX Crisis With Adequate Agricultural Financing—Heritage Bank

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George Oko-Oboh adequate agricultural financing

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The foreign exchange (FX) crisis that is putting pressure on the Nigerian Naira, making the prices of goods and services rise in the country, can be solved if attention is paid to agricultural financing, Heritage Bank Plc has submitted.

The lender, through one of its executive directors, Mr George Oko-Oboh, pointed out that if players in the agricultural sector are supported with funds, they will produce crops that can be exported and generate forex for the country, making the domestic currency stronger at the currency market.

At the 15th Annual Banking and Finance Conference of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) in Abuja, he noted that adequate agricultural financing was critical in defining the country’s trade competitiveness, which guarantees sustainable agricultural systems. This critical aspect equips the financial sector to respond to changing market requirements and address critical sector needs for global competitiveness.

He disclosed at the programme tagged Repositioning the Financial Services Industry for an Evolving Global Context that Heritage Bank has been at the forefront of financing agric value chains that have upped its competitiveness in the global market and helped to boost local production, conserve scarce foreign exchange and enhance food security, and ultimately result in the creation of hundreds of new jobs.

According to Mr Oko-Oboh, the bank’s involvement in the sector dates back many years ago. It has always been at the forefront of ensuring the overall growth and development of commodities products in Nigeria. For these feats, Heritage Bank disbursed the N41 billion intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in wheat production in Nigeria for commodity associations and anchor companies.

“We have continued to create market linkages between smallholders’ farmers and anchors/processors, create an ecosystem that drives value chain financing, improves access to credit by the smallholders’ farmers by developing credit history through the scheme and many more.

“As a bank, we partnered CBN and other stakeholders such as wheat farmers association of Nigeria, wheat farmers, processors and marketers’ association of Nigeria, Lake Chad Research Institute and other development partners, flour mills of Nigeria and several seed companies and others to support over 100,000 farmers in wheat production.

“Also, Heritage Bank further factored consideration of value addition of financial services and products flowing to and/or through value chain participants to address and alleviate constraints to growth that have distorted product financing, receivables financing, physical-asset collateralization, risk mitigation products and financial enhancements,” said the executive director.

Also, the Chairman, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, Mr Farouk Gumel, has said Nigerian banks must invest in modernising agriculture, helping it to be more resilient, more dynamic and better able to adapt for the banking sector to compete in the evolving global context favourably.

“Modernisation means much more than technology alone; it is also about farming techniques,” he said.

Mr Gumel noted “to reposition the industry for a ‘Glocal context, we also need to look more inwards,” saying repositioning is not an option. It is a necessity that Nigeria has begun an agricultural renaissance over the past seven years. To be truly Glocal, we must commit the same resources and investments to rural-local customers as we have done to urban global clients.”

He agreed that the local players must keep an eye on what global happenings to stay in tune with international best practices while asking that local/rural farmers should never be forgotten.

President/Chairman of the council for CIBN, Dr Ken Opara, said the financial services industry needs to adapt to a much faster pace of change in advancement in technology and innovation, saying services, products, and technologies that were new and useful in the past will not necessarily be so soon.

Mr Opara said advancement in technology and innovation is bringing about another wave of revolution that will change the landscape of the financial services sector more than ever.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

Banking

Finclusion Group Rebrands to Enhance Offerings, Market Footprint

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Finclusion Group

By Adedapo Adesanya 

Finclusion Group has announced a brand integration across its markets to Fin, which will facilitate Fin’s planned expansion into new markets in 2022 and 2023.

As it gets a rebrand, subsidiaries in its core markets will also follow suit, including Fin Kenya (formerly: TrustGro); Fin Tanzania (formerly: Fikia Finance) and Fin South Africa (with its products now being SmartAdvance by Fin, NiftyCredit by Fin, NiftyCover by Fin, MediFin and e-Fin).

With this step, the company is consolidating its footprint across Africa under one identity and highlighting its ambition to be the leading international neobank across Eastern and Southern Africa.

The company is also announcing a further equity injection to fuel growth as it is adding $2 million in equity funding to its $20 million round raised earlier in the year. This funding is led by existing investors Mr Leonard Stiegeler, who is also joining the board of the company, as well as Mr Sudeep Ramnani and Mr Jai Mahtani.

The funding will be used to add new, fully-integrated territories to its business and develop new offerings, specifically in support of microfinance banks wanting to offer more financial services with the help of Fin.

In a statement, Fin said its mission is to enhance the quality of life of its customers through simple, convenient, and appropriate financial services. This is why the Fin team across Africa has chosen its new slogan, Simply Smarter Finance.

Speaking on this, Mr Tonderai Mutesva, Co-Founder and co-CEO of Fin, said, “This brand integration is an important step in cementing Fin as the leader in the neobanking space in East & Southern Africa. We have fantastic leadership and a strong team across our markets, and with our joint brand and platform, we will continue to expand.”

Like other neobanks, Fin is already active across the credit, insurance, BNPL and other financial services space and by presenting its services under one name, the company says it will ensure that its quality offering and customer support are instantly recognized.

Also, this brand integration will facilitate Fin’s planned expansion into new markets in 2022 and 2023 and highlight its quality services to microfinance banks in its markets. Fin will soon offer services to these microfinance banks to enhance their value proposition to customers by allowing for higher credit or better saving tools. The technology behind this offering will be known as Fin Connect and is supported by Fin’s earlier acquisition of the microfinance technology services provider, Awamo.

Fin will also continue to support adjacent businesses in the space through its venture portfolio. Fin Ventures is focused on funding entrepreneurs and startups in Africa within the credit and banking space. These ventures are independently run but can benefit from the company’s expertise. One such venture is mTek-Services, a leading digital insurer in Kenya.

Adding his input, Mr Timothy Nuy, co-founder and co-CEO of Fin, noted that “Fin has been created by a team with proven experience in the African fintech space. I am delighted that our platform can extend this expertise and useful financial tools to our partners.”

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Banking

Cashless Policy: CBN Announces Fresh Cash Withdrawal Limits

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fresh cash withdrawal limits

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has placed new limitations on cash withdrawals from January 9, 2023, following the launch of the redesigned Naira notes by President Muhammadu Buhari last month.

In a letter seen by Business Post on Tuesday, all Deposit Money Banks (DMBS) and Other Financial Institutions (Payment Service Banks (PSBs), Primary Mortgage Banks (PMBs) and Microfinance Banks (MFBs) must not allow individuals and corporates to withdraw more than N100,000 and N500,000, respectively, while cheques above N50,000 shall not be available.

It noted that in line with the cashless policy of the CBN, all financial institutions must comply with the directives, which include, “The maximum cash withdrawal over-the-counter (OTC) by individuals and corporate organizations per week shall henceforth be N100,000 and N500,000 respectively.

The apex bank noted that individuals and companies intending to go above the fresh cash withdrawal limits should be ready to pay processing fees of 5 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively.

“Third-party cheques above N50,000 shall not be eligible for payment over the counter, while extant limits of N10,000,000 on clearing cheques still subsist.

“The maximum cash withdrawal per week via Automated Teller Machine (ATM)) shall be N100,000, subject to a maximum of 20,000 cash withdrawals per day. Only denominations of N200 and below shall be loaded into the ATMs.

“The maximum cash withdrawal via point of sale (POS) terminal shall be N20,000 daily.”

In compelling circumstances, not exceeding once a month, where cash withdrawals above the prescribed limits are required for legitimate purposes, the apex bank noted that such must not exceed N5 million and N10 million for individuals and corporate organisations, respectively.

It noted that this should be subject to the referenced processing fees in addition to enhanced due diligence and further information requirements.

The CBN noted that the financial institutions are required to obtain the following information at the minimum and upload the same on a portal created for the purpose, including a valid means of identification of the payee (National ID, International Passport, Driver’s License).

Others include the Bank Verification Number (BVN) of the payee, notarized customer declaration of the purpose for the cash withdrawal, and senior management approval for the withdrawal by the Managing Director of the drawee, where applicable, as well as the approval in writing by the MD/CEO of the bank authorising the withdrawal.

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Banking

CBN, Stakeholders to Check Rising Wave of Cyber Attacks

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rising cyber attacks

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has assured information security stakeholders and the general public of its commitment to curb the rising cases of cyber attacks within Nigeria’s cyberspace.

This was disclosed by the Director of the Payments System Management Department of the CBN, Mr Musa Jimoh, in his keynote address at the annual Information Security Society of Africa – Nigeria (ISSAN) Cybersecurity Conference in Lagos.

He stated that the apex bank was firmly committed to building a sustainable payments ecosystem in the country.

He also commended ISSAN for organizing the event, stressing that the apex bank will continue to collaborate with organisations that are committed to addressing the rising activities of cyber attacks.

Also speaking, the President of the FinTech Association of Nigeria (FinTechNGR), Mr Ade Bajomo, said to adequately address the rising rate of cyber attacks, organisations should embrace collaboration and information sharing on cyber breaches.

According to him, keeping silence on the part of organizations that had been attacked would not help others, stressing that full disclosure, synergy, and information sharing on reported cyber-attacks and how it was managed would guide other organizations to put preventive and countermeasures in place.

He also called on organizations to constantly upgrade their technology to counter cyber-attacks, urging them to have a data backup.

On his part, the president of ISSAN, Mr David Isiavwe, said the conference was devoted to further exposing the new threats and trends in the cyber security space and also offering practical steps on what businesses and individuals need to know and do to check the rising tide of the activities of cyber-criminals.

He observed that cyber attackers are getting more sophisticated globally, which is an aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, stressing that greater awareness must be created to minimize attacks on businesses that may result in losses by various organizations.

Further, Mr Isiavwe, who is also General Manager at Ecobank, made a case for customer awareness as well as a collaboration by all stakeholders.

ISSAN is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the protection of Nigeria’s cyberspace, specifically and the entire cyberspace in Africa, generally.

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