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Banking Sector

Banks Suspend ATM Card Usage Abroad

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Godwin Emefiele CBN - Investors King
  • Banks Suspend ATM Card Usage Abroad

Deposit Money Banks have begun suspending their Automated Teller Machine cards (debit and credit) from working overseas as dollar scarcity continues to hit the economy badly.

Stanbic IBTC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria and Guaranty Trust Bank on Friday announced the suspension of their overseas ATM card services.

Also suspended by the banks are online transactions priced in foreign currencies. This means that customers of the banks will no longer be able to use their debit or credit cards to make online transactions that are denominated in dollars, euros, pounds sterling and other foreign currencies.

In a note to its customers on Friday entitled: ‘Suspension of international transactions on naira debit cards’, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria said, “Please be informed that effective immediately, your naira denominated debit cards will no longer be functional for international transactions.

“This is due to the current volatility in the foreign exchange market. Your naira-denominated debit cards can only be used for local transactions at Point of Sale terminals, Automated Teller Machines and online for Nigerian retailers.”

In a text message to its customers on Friday, Stanbic IBTC Bank similarly said, “Dear customer, kindly note that effective October 18, 2016, your ability to carry out transactions priced in foreign currency using our naira debit and credit cards will be suspended. We apologise for any inconvenience in this regard.”

Both Stanbic IBTC Bank and Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria advised customers seeking to carry out transactions denominated in foreign exchange to apply for dollar or pounds sterling debit credit cards. According to them, the dollar or pounds sterling debit or credit cards will be linked to the customers’ domiciliary accounts.

GTBank also announced the suspension of the ATM cash withdrawal service abroad. The lender also slashed its monthly ATM forex transactions to $100.

In a notice to customers on Friday entitled: ‘Review of the international spending limit on your naira Master Card’, the bank stated, “We write to inform you of the monthly spending limits currently applicable when using your GTBank naira Master Card for international payments via PoS and online. Previous monthly limit via PoS and online was $250; the new monthly limit via PoS and online is now $100. Kindly note that ATM cash withdrawal on your naira MasterCard is now only available in Nigeria.”

The development will make students studying in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Ukraine and other parts of the world to face more challenges getting their monthly stipends from their parents.

Most of the students had relied on the ATM card withdrawal to get their monthly stipends from their parents before now.

This means customers seeking to do foreign transactions will have to open domiciliary accounts and fund same with dollars, pounds or euros purchased from the parallel market at the prevailing exchange rates.

Although other banks have yet to announce the suspension of ATM card services abroad, findings by our correspondent showed that many lenders had reduced drastically the amount that customers could withdraw via ATMs abroad.

This is despite the fact that the banks have in the past few months reduced the monthly total amount of forex-denominated transactions that customers can do, using their naira debit or credit cards via ATMs and PoS terminals abroad as well as online payments or transactions.

As of last week, findings showed that some banks had slashed their daily ATM withdrawal limit abroad from the $300 advised by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Bankers Committee to $100 due to their inability to source for dollars to fund the transactions.

Unconfirmed sources said some banks had reduced their monthly ATM withdrawal limit abroad to $100.

Top banking officials close to the development told our correspondent under the condition of anonymity that banks were increasingly finding it difficult to fund their foreign-currency denominated services, especially online forex transactions and overseas ATM withdrawals, as well as PoS usage overseas by customers.

A top official of Deposit Money Bank, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told our correspondent on Sunday, “We have to stop the services. Formerly, we were sourcing forex at high prices and we were selling same to customers at similarly high prices. But the situation is now tense; the dollar scarcity has assumed a new dimension.

“This is coupled with the fact that some bank customers are using the platforms to do round-tripping. It is high time we stopped it.”

The decision by some banks to suspend overseas ATM card services and online forex transactions came barely one week after the CBN, through the Bankers’ Committee, raised concerns about what it called the indiscriminate and suspicious manner in which some bank customers were spending dollars and other foreign currencies abroad through their naira debit cards.

Consequently, the regulator said it had concluded that bank customers who spent above the $50,000 annual forex limit it imposed would be barred from the nation’s forex market.

The Director, Banking Supervision, CBN, Mrs. Tokunbo Martins, stated this after the 329th Bankers’ Committee meeting held at the apex bank’s office in Lagos on Wednesday.

She said, “In the CBN’s move to manage the demand for forex, there was a rule that was put in place that people were not allowed to withdraw more than $50,000 annually on their naira debit cards.

“For a while, the policy has been abused by bank customers, and the CBN has not taken any step to that effect. We have decided to take the step now to enforce the rule. So, we want members of the public to remember that that rule is in place.

“All your accounts are linked to a particular Bank Verification Number. Now, that the BVN only allows you to withdraw only $50,000 per annum, if people continue to breach that rule, they will lose access to forex market.”

Dollar scarcity has been ravaging the economy after the price of crude oil, Nigeria’s main forex earner.

It crashed from $110 per barrel to around $44 per barrel from June 2014.

The nation’s foreign exchange reserves have been depleting since then.

On Wednesday, the country’s external reserves hit an 11-year low of $24.21bn, the latest data posted on the CBN website showed.

This means a limited amount of dollars will be available at the official interbank spot market, fuelling concerns over another round of depreciation of the naira.

The foreign exchange reserves fell by $600m in two weeks before shedding $1bn in four weeks, the CBN statistics showed.

An expert at Ernst and Young, Mr. Bisi Sanda, lamented on the dollar pressure on the economy.

He said the Federal Government needed political will to address the issues fuelling dollar scarcity on the economy.

He said, “The issue of dollar is very important to the economy. It is predicated on the fact that we are a dollar-denominated economy. It appears the government is still begging issues as far as the import-dependent state of our economy is concerned.

“We need to fix issues, we need to go back to the drawing board. The CBN said between 2010 and 2016, a total of $11bn was sold to the Bureaux De Change annually. We need to plug leakages in this area.”

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

Banking Sector

FirstBank’s Firstmonie Agents Processed Over N22 Trillion in Transaction Value

FirstMonie Agents have processed over N22 trillion in combined transaction value.

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Nigeria’s leading financial services provider, FirstBank of Nigeria Limited on Thursday said its fast-growing agent banking network, Firstmonie Agents, has collectively processed over N22 trillion in transaction value.

The lender, which announced a profit after tax of N53.3 billion in the first half of the year, said Firstmonie Agents processed transaction volume in excess of 1 billion across all its 180,000 agents that operate in 772 local governments.

In an effort to bring financial services to the unbanked and underbanked segment of the Nigerian society, Firstmonie Agents was the first banking network to operate in all the local government areas, except the two local governments enmeshed in insecurity.

Since its launch, FirstMonie Agent Banking has been providing convenient banking services to Nigerians previously cut off from the financial system, playing a pivotal role in deepening financial inclusion and empowering existing businesses within the communities to deliver these services.

Popularly called ‘Human ATM’, Firstmonie Agents are empowered to reduce the reliance on over-the-counter transactions while providing convenient personalized services. Amongst the services carried out by the Agents include; Account Opening, Cash Deposit, Airtime Purchase, Bills Payment, Withdrawals and Money Transfer.

Through various empowerment and reward schemes implemented to put its Firstmonie Agents at an advantage to economically impact their immediate communities whilst importantly having their business sustained, the Bank’s Agent Banking scheme has remained a toast to Nigerians, irrespective of where they are in the country. Amongst these schemes is the Agent Credit – launched in 2020 – which has had the Bank provide credit facilities to the tune of 238 billion naira to its teeming Firstmonie Agents.

Commenting on the milestone, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, CEO, FirstBank said “since the relaunch of our Agent Banking scheme in 2018, our Firstmonie Agents have played a vital role in bridging the financial inclusion gap in the country, as many more people have been able to undertake various financial and business transactions in cost-effective ways, thereby saving a lot of time and money in travelling over long distances for basic banking services.“

“We are delighted by the giant strides of our Firstmonie Agents in promoting financial inclusion and commend them for their efforts in taking banking to the doorsteps of Nigerians – irrespective of where they are – in a very effective way”, he concluded.

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Banking Sector

Unity Bank Grows Profit After Tax by 23% to N1.6 Billion

Retail lender, Unity Bank Plc has posted gross earnings of N27.6 billion for its 2022 half-year results, representing a growth of 17% year-on-year.

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Retail lender, Unity Bank Plc has posted gross earnings of N27.6 billion for its 2022 half-year results, representing a growth of 17% year-on-year.

In its unaudited half-year financials submitted to the Nigeria Exchange Group Limited, the Bank also made significant improvements across key performance indicators.

The Bank grew Profit Before Tax (PBT) by 23% which rose to N1.8 billion from N1.5 billion in the corresponding period of 2021. Profit After Tax (PAT) for the period equally increased by 23% to close at N1.6 billion from N1.382 billion in H1’21.

The key highlights of the financial statements showed growth in interest and similar income, which rose 18% to N23.938 billion from N20.273 billion in the corresponding period of 2021, an indication of sustained growth in the loan book as well as improved earnings from the lender’s robust digital channels, arising from sustained investment in its digital payment infrastructure.

Similarly, the lender posted sustained asset growth as total assets moved up by 7% to N574.3 billion from N538.9 billion in 2021.

Other key highlights of the financial statement include a 12% growth in deposits, which rose to N359.5 billion from N322.3 billion in December 2021, a clear indication of the positive trend of the Bank’s innovative retail products targeting several segments of the retail market as well as enhanced customer acquisition strategies for emerging products rolled out to the market during the period under review.

In the same vain, the lender recorded an increase on its loan books to N303.632 billion from N269.270 billion in 2021, representing a 13% growth.

Commenting on the financial statements, the Managing Director/CEO of Unity Bank Plc, Mrs Tomi Somefun welcomed the H1’22 results. She noted that while the key performance indicators continue on an upward trajectory; PBT (23% YoY), Total Assets (7% YoY) and gross earnings (17% YoY); the outlook for our financial position has now moderated significantly looking at other fees and income lines which performance was hitherto characterised by volatilities in the operating environment.

“As the Bank aims to further grow all indices to double-digit regions in the coming years, one reassuring take from the financial position lies in the market confidence, as well as steadily growing retail and SME franchise arising from the development of products that resonate with different markets segments, which will enable the Bank to continue to operate and successfully navigate the tough operating environment, amid rising economic headwinds,” Mrs Somefun stated.

The Unity Bank boss also stated that having invested massively in technology to drive a major revamp in our digital Banking products and channels including the Unifi Mobile App, our USSD, *7799#, internet banking, etc., the major focus is to drive increased optimisation which will enable the Bank to provide electronic convenience in the way we support our teaming customers and market segments and more often change the way they transact business.

In the view of analysts, the key performance indicators showed that the market sentiments are responding positively to the strategies of the lender’s management to accelerate the growth momentum designed for the Bank.

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Banking Sector

Zenith Bank Ranked Number One Tier-1 Bank in Nigeria for the Thirteenth Year in a Row in the 2022 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking

Zenith Bank Plc has been ranked as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital in the 2022 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking published by The Banker Magazine.

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Zenith Bank Plc has been ranked as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital in the 2022 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking published by The Banker Magazine.

For the thirteenth consecutive year, the Bank retained its position as the number one Tier-1 bank in Nigeria with a Tier-1 Capital of $2.75 billion, emerging as the 460th Bank globally.

The ranking, which was published in the July 2022 edition of The Banker Magazine of the Financial Times Group, United Kingdom, was based on the 2021 year-end Tier-1 capital of banks globally. Zenith Bank’s financial performance for the year was underpinned by double-digit growth of 10% in gross earnings, with an improved market share in both retail and corporate sectors despite a very challenging macroeconomic environment aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commenting on the 2022 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking, the Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, said: “This ranking is a testament to our resilience and doggedness as an institution despite economic headwinds and a persistent challenging macroeconomic environment. Indeed, being ranked as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital for the thirteenth year in a row underscores our commitment to sustaining the superior performance we are renowned for and creating value for our highly esteemed customers.”

He expressed his appreciation to the Founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, Jim Ovia, CON, for his guidance and for laying the foundation and building the structures of an enduring and very successful institution; the Board for the outstanding leadership they provide; the staff, whose drive and commitment sustains the exceptional performance; and the Bank’s customers for their unflinching loyalty to the Zenith brand.

Tier 1 Capital describes capital adequacy, which is the core measure of a bank’s financial strength from a regulator’s point of view. According to the ranking, Tier 1 Capital, as defined by the latest Bank for International Settlements (BIS) guidelines, includes loss-absorbing capital, i.e. common stock, disclosed reserves, retained earnings and minority interests in the equity of subsidiaries that are less than wholly owned.

Zenith Bank’s track record of excellent performance has continued to earn the brand numerous awards, with this latest accolade coming on the heels of several recognitions, including being recognised as the Best Bank in Nigeria for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria 2021 and 2022 in the World Finance Banking Awards; Best Corporate Governance Bank, Nigeria in the World Finance Corporate Governance Awards 2022; Best in Corporate Governance ‘Financial Services’ Africa, for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, by the Ethical Boardroom; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria and Best Innovation In Retail Banking, Nigeria in the International Banker 2022 Banking Awards; and Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2020. Also, the Bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021, and the Retail Bank of the year at the BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BOFI) Awards 2020 and 2021.

Similarly, Zenith Bank was honoured as Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020 and emerged winner in four categories at the Sustainability, Enterprise, and Responsibility (SERAS) Awards 2021, carting home the awards for “Best Company in Reporting and Transparency”, “Best Company in Infrastructure Development”, “Best Company in Gender Equality and Women Empowerment”, and the coveted “Most Responsible Organisation in Africa.

 

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