By Dipo Olowookere
One of the oldest indigenous financial institutions in Nigeria, Wema Bank Plc, is looking to acquire a fintech company or merge with another bank in the country.
Also, the lender is considering raising fresh funds from the capital market through a rights issue to boost its capital base as its Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) in the third quarter of the year depleted to 11.35 per cent from 15.01 per cent in the full year of 2020.
Recall that in 2013, Wema Bank embarked on a recapitalisation exercise by raising N40 billion from private and institutional investors.
This was done through the sale of about 26.7 billion ordinary shares at N1.50 per unit. This then increased its CAR from -16 per cent in 2012 to 27 per cent after the exercise. This also upgraded its banking licence to national in 2014 and expanded its reach.
Business Post gathered that Wema Bank wants to further grow its operations now and is looking at a number of financial institutions in its category for the merger and according to a source within the industry, the board and management are taking their time about this step.
Commenting on this development, Meristem, a leading stockbroking firm in the country, said “the move is considered necessary to keep the bank competitive especially in view of the proposed Basel III-compliant regulatory environment.”
It further said the “additional capital will improve the bank’s funding and assets base while positioning it for opportunities across Nigeria’s evolving financial industry landscape.”
Wema Bank is a tier-two bank that is gradually recording growth after being in the low for a while. It is believed to have the potentials to compete favourably with other mid-level lending institutions in the country like Fidelity Bank, Sterling Bank, Stanbic IBTC, amongst others.
The bank is doing quite well in the digital banking space with its ALAT platform, which is contributing to its earnings and attracting younger generations to the company.
Before the advent of ALAT, Wema Bank was mainly seen as a lender for the older generations and low-income earners and was not attractive to the youths.
In its financial statements for the first nine months of this year, the ALAT platform recorded higher customer counts and transaction volumes, supporting its non-funded income. This has made the management focus on the digital channel to drive growth, fuelling the desire to acquire a fintech firm to improve its earnings.
Court Orders CBN, NDIC to Pay 1,116 Bank Workers N5.7bn
By Adedapo Adesanya
The National Industrial Court has ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) to pay over N5.7 billion as terminal benefits to over 1,116 bank workers affected by the re-capitalisation exercise of 2006.
The money is to be paid within three months from the date of judgment as failure to adhere to this will attract 10 per cent interest until liquidated.
Justice Paul Bassi, at the court sitting in Lagos on Monday, made the order while delivering judgment in the case filed by the 1,116 claimants who had approached the court since 2018.
The court also ordered the CBN and the NDIC to pay another N10 million as general damages to the claimants.
The ruling settles the battle that the parties have fought since the consolidation exercise of 2006 which saw banks recapitalised from N2 billion to N25 billion.
Some banks did not meet the recapitalisation requirements and this led to their banking licenses being revoked by the central bank which appointed the NDIC as the liquidator.
The bank workers then sued the two organisations demanding the payment of their terminal benefits.
The two defendants raised several objections, insisting among other things they were not the employers of the workers and the suit disclosed no cause of action against them.
In his judgment, Justice Bassi dismissed the preliminary objections of the defendants and held while they may have acted for the general good by raising the capital base of banks in the country, it should not be done at the expense of the former employees.
By revoking the banking licenses of the non-consolidated banks, the defendants interfered with the employment contracts of the bank workers, a contract which would ordinarily have run its natural course with the claimants paying their benefits at the end.
The court then ordered the CBN and the NDIC to pay the workers within three months from the date of judgment failing which it will attract 10 per cent interest until liquidated.
Sterling Bank Offers Optometrists Loans at Competitive Interest Rates
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed to automate operations, enhance capacity and provide loans at competitive interest rates for optometrists has been signed by Sterling Bank Plc and the Nigerian Optometrist Association (NOA).
Under the deal, members of the association will be able to borrow from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) intervention for the health sector at 5 per cent as well as obtain template credit from the bank within 48 hours at a competitive interest rate of 20 per cent, which is below the prevailing rate in the banking industry.
Business Post gathered that Sterling Bank has earmarked N10 billion for the entire health care sector in the country and would accommodate any level of funding optometrists may require.
The Group Head of Health Finance at Sterling Bank, Mrs Ibironke Akinmade, while speaking at the signing ceremony in Lagos, explained that the initiative is part of the lender’s vision to be the leading bank for businesses in the health sector.
The Head of Health Finance said the rationale behind the partnership with NOA is to further position Sterling Bank as the bank of choice for businesses in the health sector, adding that this means more business collaboration and partnership with stakeholders in the health space.
“We have adopted a community approach in engagement with stakeholders in this sector. This will not only give us leverage to develop tailor-made propositions for the community, but it also creates an inroad for engagement of their members through a cluster approach,” she said.
Mrs Akinmade said the bank recently engaged the NOA in a bid to scale on its offerings to the health sector, which includes access to finance (template credit), and access to digitalisation (payment platforms and Electronic Medical Records) as well as advisory services, among others.
Also speaking, Dr Obinna Awiaka, President of NOA, said the association wants a bank that would help its members to grow and discovered that Sterling is the only bank that has a passion for the healthcare sector.
He said the relationship between members of his association and the bank will build the economy because once the healthcare industry is built the economy will also be built.
Dr Awiaka said the NOA is satisfied with the relationship with Sterling Bank because in no distant time the bank, in conjunction with healthcare professionals, will help to develop the sector, which will translate to a better future for the country.
He said the development will make Nigerian professionals that are leaving the country in droves return to the country to practice and this will reduce medical tourism among the country’s leaders, thanking Sterling Bank for coming on board and taking the bull by the horn to support the healthcare industry.
The NOA was established in 1968 and is the prime umbrella association representing over 5,000 doctors of optometry across the 36 states of the country and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, as well as all other optometric interest groups in Nigeria.
Since 2018, Sterling Bank has concentrated investment in five sectors of the economy under its HEART strategy in a bid to make an impact on the country’s economic development. The five sectors in HEART’s strategy include health, education, agriculture, renewable energy and transportation.
MTN Assures Nigerians Affordable Financial Services as MoMo PSB Begins Operations
By Adedapo Adesanya
MTN Nigerian Communications Plc has announced that its fintech subsidiary, MoMo PSB Limited, has formally commenced commercial operations in the country.
In a notice on Thursday at the Nigerian Exchange, MTN said the development followed a successful pilot initiated on May 16, 2022, in commemoration of the launch of its GSM operations on May 16, 2001, and listing by introduction on the Nigerian Exchange Limited on May 16, 2019.
“Indeed, this is a key milestone in delivering the company’s Ambition 2025 strategic priorities,” the notice said.
The company said with an expansive agent network of over 166,000 active agents and digitized partnership infrastructure, MoMo PSB “is poised to enable millions of unbanked and under-banked Nigerians to access a wide range of financial service products.
“MoMo PSB will continue to scale its agent network in order to reach Nigerians across the country and remove friction from everyday payment by digitizing cash payment.
“By dialling *671# on any network, customers can open a MoMo wallet, send money to any phone number in the country and pay their bills.
“In addition, MoMo wallets in the future will enable Nigerians in the Diaspora to send money to any phone number in the country, an important feature given Nigeria’s ranking as the destination for the highest remittance inflow in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
The CEO of MTN Nigeria, Mr Karl Toriola, appreciated the support and guidance of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through the process and noted that this will help the country’s financial inclusion.
“This is an important milestone for MTN Nigeria in our mission to support the government’s drive towards financial inclusion in Nigeria. Not just for those in urban centres and markets, but also people in the rural and remote areas of the country who remain excluded from the financial system,” he stated.
On his part, MoMo PSB CEO, Mr Usoro Usoro said: “Providing easy to use, accessible and affordable financial services to all Nigerians is essential to executing the CBN’s financial inclusion strategy and digital inclusion agenda of the Minister of communications and Digital Economy.
“We look forward to playing our part and are excited about the opportunities to partner with relevant institutions across various sectors to co-create and expand access nationwide.”
This is coming on the same day that MTN’s rival, Airtel announced its subsidiary, SmartCash Payment Service Bank Limited (SmartCash PSB), has commenced operations in Nigeria.
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