By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The need for stakeholder to collaborate in order to improve Africa’s fintech industry has been stressed by stakeholders in the sector.
At the launch of the continent’s first blockchain platform for payment processing, Zone, designed by Appzone, participants agreed that the finance and payment landscape needs more hands on deck.
They applauded Appzone for the initiative, saying it will play in decentralizing payments and inter banks transactions across Africa.
The CEO of Sparkle, Mr Uzoma Dozie, in his keynote address, disclosed that with the right amount of collaboration and adoption, Zone will improve existing payment infrastructure and create robust experiences for players in the market.
“Zone is built on a new technology that addresses trust and transparency in the sense that users don’t have to rely on the bank’s central system where they are locked out of the process.
“With Zone, users are more aware, and they perfectly understand every single bit of the process, which creates the transparency needed to build trust and increased adoption,” the CEO of the defunct Diamond Bank stated.
He further said the COVID-19 pandemic made people more aware of the need to embrace digital finance, fostering the appreciation needed to increase adoption of digital finance and payment technologies.
Speaking about the unique features of Zone, the CEO and founder of Appzone Group, Mr Obi Emetarom, described Zone as more than a blockchain payment platform.
He described Zone as a financial network, made up of different financial institutions, that delivers payment processes and real time settlement.
“The Zone platform offers users exciting opportunities, it is a ubiquitous network because is connects all sorts of financial institutions from payment companies, micro finance banks to fintech to digital banks.
“Zone also uses peer to peer routing, which means that all the institutions leveraging the platform can connect directly without any middleman, ensuring reliability and scalability,” added Mr Emetarom.
“Zone has also started off a network across Africa that enables anyone to do real time transactions anywhere on the continent. Ultimately, Zone is set to deliver a compliant and stable pan African digital currency,” he stated.
While speaking on the rationale behind the launch of Zone, Mr Uche Elendu, CEO of Appzone Switch said: “We are happy to officially unveil Zone as a decentralized blockchain based payment infrastructure that enables real-time settlement of fiat transactions, both in-country and out-country, while enabling the retail distribution of stable digital currencies including Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) in Africa.”
The plan is for Zone to manage stable coin wallets for regular individuals on the same distributed ledger that currently facilitates payment authorization and settlement.
With 10 commercial banks in Nigeria already connected to the network, Zone provides banks and Fintechs with simple APIs for various types of transactions including account-to-account transfers, merchant payments, and cash transactions at ATMs or agent locations.
The platform’s architecture achieves high through-put and record transaction success rates, while eliminating typical reconciliation issues that delay refunds to customers where necessary.
By connecting every financial service provider to Zone’s decentralized payment network, Appzone Switch envisions a future beyond cash where payments are frictionless and instantaneous within and between every African country so that Africa can accelerate trade and economic prosperity.
Polaris Bank in Safe Hands, No Need to Panic—Management
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The management of Polaris Bank Limited has urged its customers and members of the public not to panic over reports that the financial institution has been sold to a new investor, Mr Auwal Gombe, in the sum of N40 billion.
It was recently reported that efforts are being made to hand over the lender to the businessman, who is said to be an ally of former military president, Mr Ibrahim Babangida, after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) nationalised the defunct Skye Bank Plc into Polaris Bank in 2018.
In a statement issued on Friday in Lagos, the bank described the report of the purported sale as not only “speculative” but done to deliberately “create panic” among its customers and the banking community.
The company said the CBN established it and injected funds for its operations, it has bounced back to profitability, with a solid balance sheet, saying there is no cause for alarm as the bank was in safe hands.
“Stakeholders may recall the regulatory intervention in the erstwhile Skye Bank by the CBN and the subsequent injection of capital via the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) through a bridge bank process, which birthed Polaris Bank in 2018.
“The bank has since stabilised its operations following the intervention; improving its balance sheet, customer base and profitability,” a part of the notice today said.
Continuing, Polaris Bank noted that, “Whilst the intention has always been to return the bank to private ownership, such a sale would occur following regulatory approvals with formal notification to all relevant stakeholders,” expressing its commitment to “ensuring timely communication to the public in such an event.”
“The board and management hereby reassure its customers, staff and the general public that Polaris Bank remains a stable, strong and credible financial institution, positioned to deliver sustainable value to all its stakeholders,” the statement concluded.
Wema Bank Refutes Dud Cheque, Forgery Allegations
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The management of Wema Bank Plc has rubbished an allegation that it issued a dud cheque in connection with a garnishee proceeding for the payment of a judgement debt on behalf of the Bayelsa State Government.
A legal practitioner, Mr George Haliday, had accused the financial institution of issuing dud cheques but in a statement issued on Wednesday, the lender explained that the cheques have only not been cleared for payment because of the subsisting appeal at the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on the garnishee proceeding which has now been decided in its favour.
According to the statement, the lawyer only ran to the Magistrate Court in Abuja to lodge a complaint about the issuance of dud cheques after he lost his case at the appellate court.
“It is very worthy of note that the judgement debt against Bayelsa State Government, which Barrister George Haliday attempted to enforce by a garnishee proceeding, thereby leading to the issuance of the cheques in question had been settled by Bayelsa State Government via a Terms of Settlement between Barrister George Haliday and the Bayelsa State Government at the Supreme Court,” a part of the statement.
Recently, there were reports that the Managing Director/CEO of Wema Bank, Mr Ademola Adebise, was issued an arrest warrant, but the bank dismissed this, saying its leader was not given a fair hearing in the matter.
“Wema Bank wishes to state that the warrant for the arrest of Mr Ademola Adebise is in violation of his fundamental rights to fair hearing as he was never personally served with any process to appear before the magistrate court nor was he represented in court.
“We are a law-abiding corporate citizen; if there was any court summons properly served on the Managing Director for his appearance in court, he would have done so without fail.
“But in this case, there was no such service extended to him or any court processes personally served on him to appear in court until a warrant of arrest was issued in absentia. We view the arrest warrant as being an infringement on his fundamental rights,” the statement said.
Concluding, the lender emphatically refuted and dismissed “in their entirety, the allegations of dud cheque and forgery levelled against our bank and the Managing Director. We also dismiss the inappropriate issuance of a bench warrant on our Managing Director.
“We are already engaging in legitimate actions to seek redress and bring all the perpetrators of these unprofessional conducts and heinous criminal acts against our Managing Director and the bank to book.”
Advans Nigeria Becomes Most Innovative Microfinance Bank
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
More big feathers have been added to the colourful cap of Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank, cementing its leadership position in the small lending business in Nigeria.
Recently, in recognition of its customer-centric credentials and innovation in product development, service delivery and brand management, the financial institution was named the Best Microfinance Bank in Nigeria at the Financial Derivatives Awards 2022.
Also, the company emerged as the Most Innovative Microfinance Bank in Nigeria in the Global Brands Magazine and World Economic Magazine Awards 2022.
The Managing Director/CEO of Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank, Mr Gaetan Debuchy, while reacting to the accolades bestowed on the firm, dedicated the awards to the working management and staff of the bank, promising that the bank would continue to break boundaries.
“We are excited to win these awards. It further validates our innovative approach to providing customer-centric, affordable and transparent financial services,” Mr Debuchy said.
Also, the Head of Marketing and Communication at Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank, Mr Kayode Abraham, stated that, “Over the years, we have centred our business on customer needs and feedback, which has helped us develop financial solutions from scratch to completion. We are pleased to be recognised as the most innovative and best microfinance bank in Nigeria.”
Earlier in the year, Advans Nigeria upgraded its mobile banking app ‘Adspire’ to include users’ ability to request bank statements and control their daily transaction limit. Through the app, clients can receive notifications and share by referring their friends and loved ones.
The bank recently introduced a micro-health insurance product and an education loan to facilitate financial inclusion.
The health insurance product was designed to ensure existing and prospective clients have access to high-quality and affordable health care services, while the education loan was designed to provide working and investment capital for school owners and to assist parents in paying their children’s school fees with ease.
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