Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the ongoing improvement in the U.S. economy would warrant another interest rate increase “in the coming months,” stopping short of giving an explicit hint that the central bank would act in June.
“It’s appropriate — and I’ve said this in the past — for the Fed to gradually and cautiously increase our overnight interest rate over time,” Yellen said Friday during remarks at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “Probably in the coming months such a move would be appropriate.”
Yellen will host her colleagues on the Federal Open Market Committee in Washington June 14-15, when they will contemplate a second interest-rate increase following seven years of near-zero borrowing costs that ended when they hiked in December. A series of speeches by Fed officials and the release of the minutes to their April policy meeting have heightened investor expectations for another tightening move either next month or in July.
“The economy is continuing to improve,” she said in a discussion with Harvard economics professor Gregory Mankiw. She added that she expects “inflation will move up over the next couple of years to our 2 percent objective,” provided headwinds holding down price pressures, including energy prices and a stronger dollar, stabilize alongside an improving labor market.
Several regional Fed presidents, ranging from Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren to San Francisco’s John Williams, have in recent weeks urged financial market participants to take more seriously the chances of a rate hike in the next two months, pointing to continued signs of steady if unspectacular growth in the U.S. economy and the waning of risks posed by global economic and financial conditions.
Left scale – hourly earnings; right scale – unemployment
“It sounds like the committee is close to a rate hike, assuming the data hold up, but that no decisions have been made about the precise timing,” Laura Rosner, a senior U.S. economist at BNP Paribas in New York, said in an e-mail. “It will be a collective decision.”
The U.S. labor market has continued to expand even as the jobless rate has declined to 5 percent, which many economists consider to be close to or at full employment. Inflation and wages have also shown signs of edging up, a trend the Fed has longed for but is anxious to keep under control. The May employment report will be released on June 3, three days before Yellen is scheduled to speak publicly again, this time in Philadelphia.
More than incoming economic data, market sentiment over the June meeting has been shifted by FOMC member comments and by the April meeting minutes. Those records, released May 18, showed a majority on the committee favored a June rate increase if the economy continued to improve.
Odds of a June rate hike implied by pricing in federal funds futures contracts were 32 percent following her remarks compared to 28 percent earlier on Friday and about 4 percent two weeks ago.
The FOMC accompanied its December rate hike with projections showing officials expected to raise rates four more times in 2016. Amid renewed worries over global growth and a bout of turmoil in financial markets in January and February, the committee has since held rates steady and cut its median projection for the number of 2016 quarter-point rate increases to two.
Yellen, 69, accepted the Radcliffe Medal, an award given annually by Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies to “an individual who has had a transformative impact on society,” according to its website. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg received the award in 2015.
MTN Nigeria’s MoMo Formally Commences Operation
MoMo has commenced a full commercial Payment Service Bank operations, today, 19th May, 2022
MTN Nigeria’s subsidiary company, MoMo has commenced a full commercial Payment Service Bank (PSB) operations, today, 19th May, 2022.
This comes after a successful trial that began on May 16, 2022, to commemorate the start of MTN’s GSM operations on May 16, 2001, and MTN’s listing on the Nigerian Exchange Limited on May 16, 2019.
Investors King had reported the CBN’s approval of this process some months back stating; “This is the first step in the process towards a final approval, subject to the fulfillment of certain conditions as stipulated by the CBN. The decision to issue a final approval is firmly within the regulatory purview of the CBN and we respect their right and judgment in that regard.
“MTN Nigeria affirms its commitment towards the financial inclusion agenda of the CBN and the Federal Republic of Nigeria and continues to explore means whereby it can contribute to its fulfillment…”
MoMo PSB is determined to enable millions of Nigerians to access a broad range of financial service products. With an expansive agent network of over 166,000 active agents and digitized partnership infrastructure, MoMo PSB will continue to expand its agent network in order to serve Nigerians across the country and eliminate friction from routine transactions by digitizing cash payments.
Customers can open a MoMo wallet, send money to any phone number in the country, and pay their bills by dialing *671# from any network.
Furthermore, MoMo wallets will allow Nigerians in the Diaspora to send money to any phone number in the country in the future, a crucial feature considering Nigeria’s position as the top recipient of remittances in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“We are grateful to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for their support and guidance through the process,” said Karl Toriola, CEO of MTN Nigeria. “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 centers and markets, but also people in the rural and remote areas of the country who remain excluded from the financial system,” he added.
MoMo PSB CEO, 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 the 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.”
CBN Issues Directive For Open Banking to Improve Financial Services
In an effort to stimulate innovation and widen the range of financial products and services available to banks’ customers, the apex regulatory bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has established the legal framework for Open Banking in Nigeria.
This was revealed in a circular titled ‘Operational guidelines for open banking in Nigeria’ which was obtained by Investors King.
The Regulatory Framework for Open Banking in Nigeria, according to the CBN, establishes standards for data sharing across the banking and payments systems in order to stimulate innovation and expand the range of financial products and services available to bank customers.
According to the CBN, the financial sector data guideline would allow clients to access innovative financial products and services.
The Apex bank said: “Open banking recognises the ownership and control of data by customers of financial and non-financial services, and their right to grant authorisations to service providers to access innovative financial products and services. This is anticipated to drive competition and improve access to banking and payments services”.
The CBN also added that participants in open banking shall adhere strictly to security standards when accessing and storing data, and shall be subject to minimum privacy standards, operational standards, risk management standards and customer experience standards as prescribed by the Bank.
According to the CBN, any organization with customer data that may be transferred with other businesses in order to deliver innovative financial services within Nigeria is eligible to participate in the Open Banking ecosystem.
Open banking is a banking practice in which banks and non-bank financial organizations provide third-party financial service providers open access to customer banking, transaction, and other financial data via application programming interfaces (APIs).
Partnerships for Financial Education
Education, specifically financial education, is a critical tool to enable both individuals and communities to prosper
By Carl Manlan, Vice President, Social Impact, Visa CEMEA
In April 2022, a media company leveraged key partners to make on-demand mobile-based learning accessible to millions of young Africans. The model bets on the success of the entertainment platform to attract young people to take an extra step in strengthening their entrepreneurial skills. This highlights the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships in ensuring access to skills and educational messages for Africa’s youth. Moreover, the critical importance of experience-based learning and platforms in advancing socio-economic transformation.
Over the years in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, we have learnt about the effectiveness of purpose-led partnerships. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic provided us with a sense of urgency in supporting individuals and households to take full advantage of the digital economy. The continent’s response to health emergencies suggest that we have the tools to push forward in creating a more inclusive society particularly in the areas of education and capacity development.
Education, specifically financial education, is a critical tool to enable both individuals and communities to prosper. Entrepreneurship holds some of the answers in alleviating unemployment in Africa, but it needs to come with the right set of skills and opportunities. Trace Academia, has taken the lead in bringing partners to offer a range of skills to millions of young Africans through their media platform. This rich content has re-imagined Visa’s Practical Business Skills to allow young people to learn lifelong transferable skills.
Leveraging the power of technology, both platforms have been able to bring relevant financial education content that changes the way the youth interact with entrepreneurial concepts. Skills development is one step in the right direction as we continue to collaborate with others to create opportunities for young people. The real impact is in the continuous application of these skills, which will help us navigate some of the challenges that affect youth and employment on the continent.
The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated preference for digital commerce and highlighted the opportunity of key stakeholders to come together to collaborate at the intersection of commerce and skills. Research shows 80 million young people will benefit from the rise of digital commerce in Africa by 2030 but this can only be enabled by access to adequate skills and relevant platforms.
Financial education starts at home and the role of parents and guardians cannot be over emphasized. Practical Money Skills is an online resource which provides content for children and youth grades K to 12. The end in mind is the ability to take control of your finances as an individual or as a household. As such, the fundamental habit of careful management of available resources at home builds the framework for financial education and financial consumer protection which ultimately leads to more communities being included in the financial system. As in the health sector, behaviour change communication and prevention are key factors in curbing the spread of a disease. In our case, financial education and protection are key tenants in spreading expertise and leveraging skills required for individuals to sustain their livelihoods and for entrepreneurs to expand their trade from local to global value chains.
Access to healthcare and financial education may, at first, be unrelated but the pandemic has exposed the fragility of the current economic system when skills are lacking. There is evidence suggesting that debt and financial concerns have a serious impact on mental health
Partnerships for Financial Education
. As such, people living in financial hardship are at increased risk of mental health problems and poorer mental wellbeing. Financial wellness is important for individuals and communities to continue to make a sustainable contribution to the continent.
Most critical diseases affecting the continent over the past half-century have been managed through partnerships. Today, more than ever, we can take a cue from the health sector to make financial education accessible to all, it is a life skill that should be valued.
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