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Our Digital Assets Dedicated to MSMEs’ Growth—Ecobank MD

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Patrick Akinwuntan Ecobank Nigeria

By Dipo Olowookere

Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Patrick Akinwuntan, has reaffirmed the bank’s commitment to the use its wide and versatile digital capacity to transform the entire value chain for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria.

This, according to him, would engender more activities in the sub sector leading to the overall growth of the economy.

Mr Akinwuntan disclosed that it was part of the overall strategy of the Ecobank Group to deploy its products with digital appeal to support business development. He listed some of these products to include Omnilite, EcobankPay. It should be recalled that Ecobank is also providing Xpresspoints – which is agency banking in your neighbourhood.

“Omnilite is an Ecobank internet banking platform that allows entrepreneurs perform transactions, payments  over the Internet through the Bank’s secure website. With Omni Lite, customers have easy access to their account(s) from anywhere in the world;  Online real-time account monitoring facility;  Convenience of conducting banking transactions from comfort of home/office; Secured online transactions; Easy Access to bank information and products; Effective, cheaper and easier way for our customers to communicate with the bank on a 24/7 basis”, he stated.

Speaking on the EcobankPay, Mr Akinwuntan said, “EcobankPay is a digital QR code that enables payments using the mobile phone, without the need for a plastic card. It is really veryconvenient as it is a one stop platform of Ecobank across 33 countries in Africa. The uniqueness of our EcobankPay is that it has MasterPass, MVisa and Mcash options with a single merchant identity for each customer to transact across the three platforms.

“Our merchants on EcobankPay have a QR code that accepts all the three. Therefore, if the person that wishes to buy goods from you is coming from a bank that has MVisa, or Mastercard or Mcash, the same QRcode would accept your funds and vice versa. That creates interoperability and convenience for the merchants and as you know, the QRcode is much cheaper than having a point of sale (PoS). It also provides immediate credit to your bank account and not a day after as is on other acceptance platforms. Our products assist entrepreneurs achieve their goals whether it be payments or collections with more ease.  We have the payment platform; we have e-portals that would transform the SMEs in Nigeria.”

Mr Akinwuntan, who also spoke on the need to support and grow the intellectual economy, pointed out that Nigeria is gradually becoming a major hub in Africa on intellectual economy with the influx of Fin-tech companies and social media channels.

He noted that Ecobank is already partnering with them to offer banking services. “As you know if you look at the intellectual economy, Nigeria is becoming a major hub in Africa. We had Facebook come here to see what was going on, and a number of Fin-tech companies becoming major players globally, attracting investments for the big IT companies and startups.

“Ecobank is seeking to become the partner that provides the banking services for the intellectuals and the economic growth that they are fostering. We partner with Fin-techs, we do not compete with them, we understand that they have their value and we now have a digital platform that makes us the platform of choice and we have physical locations that guarantee distribution to the last mile.”

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

We Have Done Well to Stabilise Nigerian Banking Sector—NDIC

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Nigerian Banking Sector

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) says it has performed the duties of keeping the Nigerian banking sector stable since its inception about 32 years ago.

Chairman of the NDIC, Mrs Ronke Sokefun, disclosed that the agency has ensured that members of the public have a strong belief in the financial system in the country.

According to her, the NDIC, when necessary, provides financial assistance, technical assistance to Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), Microfinance Banks (MfBs) and Primary Mortgage Banks (PMBs).

She further said in addition, the insurer assists financial institutions with mergers and acquisition, purchase and assumptions, as well as the application of the bridge bank mechanisms.

“Besides deposit protection, prompt resolution of bank failure in Nigeria by the NDIC in its over 32 years of its existence has succeeded in steering the banking sector off systemic failure and collapse of public confidence, thus safeguarding the role of financial safety net,” Mrs Sokefun said on Thursday at the 2021 NDIC retreat for members of the House of Representatives Committee on Insurance and Actuarial Matters in Lagos.

The NDIC boss noted that, “It is only when all these options could not rescue a bank that it is allowed to go into liquidation.”

She said so far, a total of 467 DMBs, MfBs and PMBs have been completely liquidated or undergoing the process of complete liquidation.

“As of date, 49 DMBs, 367 MFBs and 51 PMBs are either completely liquidated or undergoing the process of complete liquidation by the NDIC, following the revocation of their operating licenses by the Central Bank of Nigeria,” Mrs Sokefun informed the lawmakers.

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Banking

Otedola, Odukale First Bank Leadership Tussle Excites CBN

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First Bank Leadership Tussle

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has expressed satisfaction with the power tussle between Mr Femi Otedola and Mr Taiwo Hassan Odukale, over who owns the single largest shareholding in First Bank of Nigeria, also known as FGN Holdings Plc.

The duo recently became a news item over the issue after it was announced that Mr Otedola was now the single largest shareholder in the financial institution. The company later released a statement, stating that Mr Odukale was the largest shareholder.

On Tuesday, after the last Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting for 2021, the Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, while addressing reporters, said the development was a testament to the positive decisions taken by the apex bank to keep First Bank alive.

A few months ago, the CBN sacked the board of FBN Holdings and First Bank of Nigeria Limited, its flagship bank, over a leadership tussle.

It was after the news that Nigerians knew that the central bank had been providing funds to the company as an intervention in order not to make it collapse because of huge non-performing loans (NPLs) bedevilling the organisation.

Justifying its decision to provide funding support to the lender on Tuesday, Mr Emefiele said First Bank, as the oldest bank in Nigeria, was too big to fail.

According to him, “If anything happens to First Bank, it means something has happened to the Nigerian banking system. That is why we are taking advice on how to get the bank afoot seriously.”

He then declared that First Bank was too big to be owned by an individual, adding that the tussle was good because “six years ago, as I said, because of an aggressive build-up of NPLs, the share price of First Bank was about N2. We took it up. Then, everybody was running away from the shares of First Bank.

“We have cleaned the balance sheet now, people are seeing that the money-making machine, First Bank, is back on its feet. They are in the race for profitability. They are now competing for the shares of First Bank. As of the last time I checked over the weekend, the share price was more N11.

“Why should I quarrel about that? “I am happy to see that they are competing for the shares. Of course, we all know that First Bank is so large that no single person can own it. In running the banks, they should see themselves as representing others.”

The leadership tussle between the two billionaires seems to have been put to rest after the clarification made by the National Pension Commission (PenCom).

First Bank had earlier said Mr Hassan-Odukale controlled a 5.36 per cent cumulative equity stake in the company through direct and indirect shareholding, stating that it was more than the 5.07 per cent holding of Mr Otedola.

Mr Hassan-Odukale’s stake rose to 5.36 per cent because of the addition of the stake of Leadway Pensure Limited, which he also has an interest in.

But PenCom explained that the shares of FBN Holdings purchased by Leadway Pensure belonged to Retirement Savings Account (RSA) holders and not Mr Hassan-Odukale because the funds actually belonged to a pool of investors, who are mainly Nigerian workers.

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Banking

Heritage Bank CEO Clinches Banker of Year (SMEs & Agric) Award

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Heritage Bank CEO

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Bank Plc, Mr Ifie Sekibo, has been named as Banker of the Year 2021 under SMEs and Agric category.

The Heritage Bank CEO won this award at the New Telegraph 2021 Awards held recently in recognition of his leadership position in delivering sterling development and growth of the agricultural sector and the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Receiving the award on behalf of the bank’s CEO, the Executive Director, Jude Monye stated that the bank was honoured and motivated to do more for the sustainability and growth of the Agric and SME sectors following the award received from the New Telegraph newspaper.

“We are highly honoured to receive the award as the Banker of the Year (SMEs & Agric) from the Board and Management of New Telegraph Newspaper.

“This validates the hard work and success story of the bank to create, preserve and transfer wealth across generations, as amongst other sectors of the economy, we have continued to ensure our efforts to support the Agric and SMEs sector in Nigeria counts.

“This is a result that will continue to motivate us to deepen our supports to Agric, SMEs sector and the economy at large for sustainable growth,” he assured.

Mr Sekibo vowed that in line with its core mandate to create and transfer generational wealth, the bank would continue to make farming profitable to stakeholders and attractive to the youth, as Heritage Bank had taken the front seat in financing critical agricultural projects in several states in the country, especially in Oyo, Kaduna and Zamfara and recently in Plateau Jos.

He noted that most of the ventures in the agriculture sector fall within the Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSME) sectors of the economy, which Heritage Bank in close collaboration with CBN has been championing.

According to him, in complementing the efforts of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Heritage Bank has made a huge success of the established agricultural schemes by making funds available to both small holder farmers and SMEs (Prime Anchors) in their efforts to increase agricultural output especially rice and wheat productions.

He explained that Heritage Bank has deepened support of small holders’ farmers and anchors in Ogun, Niger and recently Plateau state in rice and wheat seed and grain production under Prime ABP, which would help tackle gaps inherent.

“Heritage Bank in partnership with CBN is set to reverse the adverse trends by eliminating dependence on imported wheat which currently stands at over $2 billion and the unavailability of high yield wheat seed that stands at 63,000 MT through a strategic approach which would facilitate import substitution and promote self-sufficiency in the wheat value chain in Nigeria, by funding the local production of wheat and encouraging backward integration by wheat millers,” he stated.

Earlier, in a letter to congratulate him for his nomination as the Banker of the Year (SMEs & Agric) of the year 2021, the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of New Telegraph, Mr Ayodele Aminu, explained that, “after a thorough scrutiny of Heritage Bank’s laudable support for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), as well the country’s agricultural sector, in the last one year by our Panel of Judges and Editors, we at the New Telegraph 2021 are pleased to award Heritage Bank, Banker of the Year (SMEs & Agric).”

Meanwhile, Heritage Bank has recorded notable success stories in the Agric and SMEs’ spaces which in 2017 the bank won the maiden award from CBN for Sustainable Transaction of the Year in Agriculture.

In 2018, Heritage Bank emerged as a winner in the Agriculture Category during the year’s CBN Sustainable Transaction of the year award. The Nigeria Agriculture Awards (NAA), announced Heritage Bank as the Agric. Bank of the Year. According to NAA, Heritage Bank was selected in recognition of its footprints in the Agribusiness space.

In 2019/2020, Heritage Bank secured mandate as Transaction Advisers and Settlement Bank on Agribusiness and Solid Minerals to Lagos Commodities & Futures Exchange.

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