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What is a Debt Consolidation Loan and How Does it Work?



Debt Consolidation Loan

Debt consolidation is the act of clubbing all your existing loans together and paying them off as one single debt.

The biggest advantage of taking a debt consolidation loan is that you don’t have to worry about connecting with multiple vendors for repayments. There’s no need for managing multiple credit cards and the EMIs you pay are dedicated towards a single big loan.

There are some cases where you cannot apply debt consolidation. For example, you cannot take a debt consolidation loan for paying off pending EMIs for liable or secured assets (such as a home loan).

However, for unsecured loans like personal loans, education loans, and credit card dues, you can apply for a debt consolidation loan to clear them up.

Some organisations these days offer secured debt consolidation loans for individuals where they put up their property or business assets as the collateral.

Unsecured debt consolidation loans are hard to apply for and charge higher rates of interest. Most banks aren’t willing to give out individuals unsecured debt consolidation loans but there are NBFCs, fintech startups, and private organisations that disburse these loans as long as the borrower’s profile is verified and they demonstrate sufficient creditworthiness.

The best part about these loans is that the interest rates remain fixed and do not fluctuate. This means your monthly EMI repayments stay the same and don’t suddenly change, thus giving borrowers peace of mind.

Advantages of Debt Consolidation Loans

Debt Consolidation Loan

There are various reasons why you’d want to opt for a debt consolidation loan. Here’s a list of the benefits:

  • One Single Liability – It’s hard enough to keep track of multiple EMIs and repayment. Going for debt consolidation takes care of this legwork since your lender takes care of the communications. Your only duty is to make sure you make your EMI payments on time for the debt consolidation loan you applied for.
  • Lower Interest Rates – With multiple different loans, you have varying interest rates. But with a debt consolidation loan, you have to worry about a single interest rate. The payoff is lower too and it makes the monthly repayments lesser too.
  • Paperless Process – If you’re applying for a debt consolidation loan online, you’ll find that the entire process is paperless. You can file your application digitally and you’ll find that lenders disburse the amount in just a few days if you meet their borrower requirements.
  • Flexible EMI Tenure – Debt consolidation loans can have a flexible repayment tenure of anywhere between 2 years to 20 years. Self-employed individuals can get a tenure of up to 18 years while salaried individuals are liable for more.

Debt Consolidation Loans vs Debt Settlement

The key point to remember about debt consolidation loans is that they don’t completely erase all your debts. They simply club your loans together and transfer them to a single lender. As a borrower, you become responsible for making repayments to a single lender.

Debt settlement works a bit differently and aims in providing credit relief to borrowers. Here, negotiations are done with lenders to reduce the loan amount or interest rates instead of cutting down on the number of lenders by transferring the debt to an organisation.

There are many credit counselling services and organisations that help in doing debt negotiations with organisations and providing relief to borrowers, although they don’t directly give out any loans on their own.

How Does It Work?

Let’s say you’ve taken a loan of Rs 1 lac over a period of 2 years with an interest rate of 12%. And you have another loan of Rs 2 lacs which you have to clear within a year, its annual interest rate being 10%. The monthly EMI payments for each of these loans may come to around INR 5170 and INR 5830 respectively.

With a debt consolidation loan, your monthly EMI payment would amount to INR 6000 combined. However, the trade-off is that you get a longer tenure for making both the repayments on your existing debts. Instead of making multiple payments to lenders, you can now make a single EMI payment every month and end up saving money on interest. The longer tenure also gives you peace of mind as you know that you can handle your repayments a lot better. Debt consolidation gives you a favourable structure for making repayments and makes it convenient to pay off multiple small loans together by applying for a big loan.

Make sure you identify all your financial obligations and liabilities before going for this type of loan. It’s always a good idea to talk to an advisor before applying for debt consolidation if you’re not sure whether or not to go for one based on your financial circumstances.

What Are The Eligibility Requirements?

If it’s your first time applying for a debt consolidation loan, you’re going to have to make sure your KYC documents are with you. Lenders look for documents such as:

  • Proof of employment and stable income (at least 2 months’)
  • Letters from credit agencies
  • Bank statements
  • Proof of Identity

You must also be a resident of India and be 25 years of age or older. If you’ve been self-employed for years and have taken loans before the age of 23, you can still go ahead and apply for a debt consolidation loan before this age limit criteria. Your lending organisation will decide which creditors you pay off after your debt consolidation loan is approved. The way this works is you pay off your highest-interest loans first and clear up the remaining ones over time.

However, some organisations may allow you to pay lower-interest loans in the beginning and later clear the higher-interest ones. This will depend on your lender whom you’re applying for a debt consolidation loan through or the lending organisation. Additionally, you will have to demonstrate your creditworthiness and show your CIBIL Score when applying for these types of loans.

How Does A Debt Consolidation Loan Affect Your CIBIL Score?

If you take a debt consolidation loan and pay off the principal portion of your loan sooner, it can attract various credit lending organisations to your profile. The sooner you clear out the existing loans, the higher your CIBIL rating will be.

Also, the period involved in making all your repayments becomes shorter since you’re clubbing different debts into a single EMI. Overall, it makes it much easier to manage your existing debt repayments. You can also get a much more reasonable interest rate when you go for debt consolidation and sometimes, you can cut that number to one-thirds depending on what your current CIBIL rating is like.

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Reps Call for Urgent Overhaul of Electronic Banking Platforms



electronic banking platforms

By Adedapo Adesanya

The House of Representatives has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to direct commercial banks to urgently overhaul their online and electronic banking platforms.

At Thursday’s plenary, the green chamber said this would ease the electronic banking operations that the banks were implementing in line with the cashless/Naira redesign policy of the apex bank and reduce the pains of Nigerians.

The resolution came off a motion on notice moved by a lawmaker from Edo State, Mr Sergius Ose-Ogun, in the lower house.

“The House notes that Section 88 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) empowers the National Assembly to conduct investigations into the activities of any authority executing or administering laws made by the National Assembly (like the Central Bank of Nigeria);

“Aware that the Central Bank of Nigeria is established under Section 1 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, Cap. C4, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to issue legal tender currencies in Nigeria;

“Also aware that Section 2 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act saddles the Central Bank of Nigeria with the duty of promoting a sound financial system in Nigeria;

“Acknowledges that in the wake of the recent naira redesign and cash withdrawal limit policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, there has been an increase in the use of online and electronic banking services to carry out monetary transactions across the country;

“Also acknowledges that the use of online or internet banking services by Nigerians in the past three months or thereabout has been characterized by varying degrees of hitches ranging from unsuccessful electronic bank transfers, point of sale (POS) service failure and a host of others;

“Disturbed that the ineffectiveness or difficulty in using internet banking services across the online banking platforms of most commercial banks in Nigeria has brought untold hardship, suffering and difficulties on Nigerians in the past three months.

“Worried that if nothing is done by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the commercial banks to address these difficulties or ineffectiveness, Nigerians will continue to suffer untold hardships and loss of monies to unsuccessful electronic bank transactions.

“Resolves to urge the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to direct all commercial banks in the country to immediately overhaul their existing online/electronic banking platforms for efficiency and ease of conducting electronic banking operations,” the motion read.

The House Committee on Banking and Currency was mandated to monitor and ensure compliance with the resolution within four weeks.

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Nigerian Banks Immune to Global Banking Jitters—Emefiele Assures



Nigerian Banks

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has assured that Nigerian banks are not directly exposed to the Silicon Valley Bank crisis and, by implication, the wider global banking jitters.

The CBN Governor made this statement when responding to questions after the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting held in Abuja on Tuesday.

Mr Emefiele stated that Nigerian banks are healthy, having met all the prudential guidelines it set for the financial system.

According to the CBN chief, Nigerian banks have already implemented the CBN prudential guidelines, such as its cash reserve ratios, capital adequacy ratios, non-performing loans (NPL), and liquidity ratios.

There have been concerns about the health of the global financial system in the aftermath of the March 10 collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.

According to the CBN Governor, the apex bank conducted a review of all the bond portfolios of Nigerian banks and determined that none of them was exposed to the failed bank.

He suggested that Nigerian banks are ultimately owned by bank depositors and not shareholders.

“We will rather dispose of shareholders than make depositors lose money,” suggesting that bank customers had more no loss in banks than their shareholders.

He, however, did not speak to exposure to other banks currently caught in the line of fire, such as Credit Suisse.

US regulators had stepped into the trouble following the troubles in SVB and Signature Bank by guaranteeing deposits earlier this month.

However, the collapse of Credit Suisse over the weekend reignited fears of contagion across the financial sector.

Unlike SVB, a mid-tier bank, Credit Suisse is a top financial organisation – big enough that it is among 30 banks considered to be of systemic importance to the global economy.

UBS agreed to buy its embattled rival Credit Suisse for $3.2 billion on Sunday, with Swiss regulators playing a key part in the deal as governments looked to stem a contagion threatening the global banking system.

The terms of the deal will see Credit Suisse shareholders receive 1 UBS share for every 22.48 Credit Suisse shares they hold.

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To Make e-Payments More Acceptable, Nigeria Needs to Curb Fraud



e-payment Victor Irechukwu

By Victor Irechukwu

When a credit alert drops on your phone, chances are you will get excited. Even if it wasn’t a surprise and you were expecting that money. But when it is a debit alert, there’s also a certain type of gloom you feel; you want money to keep coming in but as little as possible of it going out.

It may be safe to say most of us feel that way.

Now, imagine the debit alert was for a transaction you know nothing about. A commonly reported theme has been alerts that your card was used to make deposits on a gambling website, whereas you may never have even indulged in gambling your entire life.

At other times, you are shown a debit alert by someone who wants to purchase goods or services from you, but only later realise they showed you what has now been termed ‘fake alerts’. By this time, your goods, for instance, would have been long gone.

In recent months, social media has been awash with reports of money literally growing wings and leaving some people’s accounts to those of other people without authorisation. Many of these cases have gone viral on social media, causing embarrassment for the banks involved – The issues are either quietly – or corrected with public acknowledgement. But not all are resolved, at least not yet.

As much as the country and even individuals would like to go cashless, these bad experiences leave a sour taste in the mouth, and they have continued to rain on the parade as Nigeria marches towards a cashless economy. It must be stressed that a cashless economy does not mean the theft of money will stop, what it does is to change how thieves go about it. But more importantly, it also doesn’t mean thefts must occur, at least not if systems are strengthened and the right protocols are put in place.

In the electronic world, an article on The Balance Money describes hackers as bank robbers and muggers, and in a cashless society, we are all exposed to them. According to the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS), growth in the use of electronic channels, specifically mobile devices, has also enticed fraudsters into focusing their efforts on these electronic channels.

When an attack is successful and the culprits are able to drain funds from your account, you could be effectively left stranded. God forbid you needed that money for a life-threatening emergency because that could be the end unless you are one of the lucky few whose funds get recovered in a place like Nigeria – and on time too.

Agusto & Co.’s ‘2022 Consumer digital banking satisfaction index for Nigerian banks’, found that approximately 59 per cent of respondents had been fraud victims on the digital platforms of their banks.

The figures in terms of the number of attacks, success rate and amounts lost remain a source of concern. By the third quarter of 2022, the total number of frauds & forgeries cases reported by Nigerian banks was 19,314 as against 27,356 incidents reported in the second quarter of 2022.

But there’s more. While the number of attacks represents a 29.40 per cent decrease between the periods, the total sum reported to be involved in fraud cases increased by 9.50 per cent to N9.62 billion from N8.78 billion in Q2 2022. Also, for the total amount lost due to fraud incidents, there was a significant increase of 207.94 per cent from N1.17 billion in the second quarter of 2022 to N3.62 billion in the third quarter of 2022.

In essence, the number of attacks may have decreased within that particular period, but more money was lost to the fraudulent attacks.

These insights were provided in the Q3 2022 report by FITC, an organisation mandated to receive data on fraud from all Nigerian banks and prepare quarterly reports. The figures show that the highest number of occurrences were recorded under computer/web fraud followed by mobile fraud which includes fraud activities through USSD transactions and ATM-related fraud.

BusinessDay even reported that every day between January and March 2022, there was an average of 450 incidents of frauds and forgeries against Nigerian bank customers. In those three months, the attackers targeted N14.65 billion, with Computer/Web Fraud responsible for N10.57 billion (72.18 per cent), and Mobile Fraud recording 1.48 billion (10.08 per cent).

Those 40,522 attacks resulted in N1.54 billion lost by bank customers. Computer/Web Fraud accounted for 70.51 per cent (N1.07 billion), followed by Mobile Fraud accounting for 17.58 per cent (N270.92 million) at the time.

Going back a bit, data by NIBSS also showed that fraud attempts via mobile channels saw a 330 per cent increase year-on-year (YoY) between 2019 and 2020, while attempts via web and POS channels saw a 173 per cent and 215 per cent increase YoY. In those nine months, 96 per cent of the attacks were successful, and there were 46,126 of such attacks.

“This trend is expected to continue as Nigeria further grows financial inclusion and customers become increasingly dependent on electronic channels for their day-to-day transactions,” said NIBSS. In other words, things are expected to get a lot worse, according to the organisation described as Nigeria’s central switch for the financial industry.

Fraud is and has always been a large threat to commerce and e-payment transactions. It is impossible to totally eliminate the chance of fraud, but applying timely measures and ensuring the use of secure payment infrastructure can help reduce or even eliminate these risks. Security should continue to be top priority for every party involved in ePayment transactions. Fraud prevention involves taking measures to stop fraud from occurring and taking steps to detect frauds quickly (when they occur) and stop them as soon as possible. Different techniques for preventing and detecting frauds are required as there are different types of fraud in e-payment transactions.

Awareness of these risks by merchants, consumers and individuals plays an important role in reducing fraud in e-payment transactions. Merchant awareness and education is important – they should be aware of the types of frauds, implications and application of best practices. Consumer awareness and education is also important in order to reduce identity theft or payment data theft. This would help the individual in adopting an active and cautious attitude when carrying out electronic transactions. It could teach them to be aware of possible risks, avoid e-scams, and minimise giving vital information to merchants (or other parties) when carrying out electronic payments.

Victor Irechukwu is the Head of Engineering at OnePipe

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