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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.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Banking Sector

Stanbic IBTC Reiterates Strategic Youth Agenda

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Determined to further strengthen the strategic position young Nigerians occupy in the country, Stanbic IBTC, a member of Standard Bank Group, has continued to promote various programmes to get Nigerian youths engaged and empowered for better productivity and participation in the development of the nation.

The Group aimed one of its initiatives, the ‘Youth Leadership Series’ (YLS), at deepening financial and entrepreneurial knowledge among Nigeria’s younger generations. The initiative, which was launched in 2018, is held in institutions of higher learning across the nation and brings together mentors from across various sectors of the economy to encourage and inspire the next generation. 

Dr. Demola Sogunle, Chief Executive of Stanbic IBTC Holdings, spoke of the initiative. He stated that through one of the organisation’s CSI pillars, ‘economic empowerment’, the YLS was birthed as an avenue to get young Nigerians engaged and empowered to become future business leaders.

He said that Nigerian youths required support, guidance, and empowerment to propel them to the pinnacle of their various fields, and added that innovative projects and tech disruptions championed by youths in virtually every sector have proved their ingenuity, skill, brilliance, and resourcefulness.

Sogunle further stated that since youths easily get distracted by different challenges, the organisation wanted to ensure that they were aptly and constantly guided, mentored, inspired, and motivated, not just to attain their goals but to actualise their full potentials.

This year’s event which held virtually attracted youths from across Nigeria and various parts of the world including the UK, USA and UAE. It featured an array of speakers – Debo Adebayo, better known as Mr. Macaroni and  Ms. Ifedayo Agoro, the founder of Diary of a Naija Girl (DANG), an online lifestyle website, who spoke on ‘Winning with Social Media’; the duo of Olumide Soyombo, co-Founder, Bluechip Technologies and Tracy Batta, co-Founder, Smoothie Express who spoke on ‘Winning with Entrepreneurship’; while Akin Bamidele Akintola, Head of Equity Sales, Stanbic IBTC Stockbrokers and Yanmo Omorogbe, co-founder of Bamboo Invest, an investment platform that allows Nigerians to invest in United States stocks, both spoke on ‘Winning with Investments’.

All speakers shared their entrepreneurial experiences, challenges, and success stories in these areas.

Speakers at previous editions of the YLS included Kechi Okwuchi, a survivor of the ill-fated Sosoliso plane crash of December 2005, who later went on to bag a First Class Degree from the University of Thomas Houston, Texas and emerged a finalist at America’s Got Talent; Member Feese, survivor of the United Nations Building bomb blast in Abuja and Cobhams Asuquo, renowned music producer, who was born blind.

Also, Stanbic IBTC Bank, in collaboration with Creative Youth Community Development Initiative (CYCDI), and Covenant University, Ota and in alignment with the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City, engaged Nigerian youths on better understanding of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their role in its attainment.

The organisation also said that some needs of youths have been catered to with the Stanbic IBTC BluEdge Youth Account, targeted to help students and youths cultivate a savings culture very early in life.

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Finance

United Capital Launches 150 Billion Naira Infrastructure Fund

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United Capital Plc today announced the launch of its 150 Billion Naira Infrastructure Fund.

The United Capital Infrastructure Fund (UCIF) is a Naira-denominated fund that aims to provide long-term financing for the delivery of critical infrastructure in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa.

United Capital stated this in a disclosure statement released through the Nigerian Exchange Limited and obtained by Investors King on Monday.

The statement further said that the fund has been registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission as a close-ended fund.

The infrastructure deficit in Nigeria is growing at an alarming rate with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) estimating that the Federal Government would need about US$100 billion annually to address the nation’s infrastructure deficit.

This infrastructural deficit is a major constraint to the economic development of Nigeria and the United Capital fund is set to address this deficit by financing infrastructure assets that cut across sectors such as power and renewable energy, transportation, agribusiness and industrial infrastructure, healthcare, technology, mass housing, urban and social infrastructure.

Stanbic IBTC also launched a N100 Billion infrastructure fund earlier in the year in an attempt to close the infrastructural gap in the country.

According to United Capital, the Infrastructure Fund would be managed by United Capital Asset Management Limited (“UCAML”), its only sponsor. The Fund has retained Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) as the independent Financial Advisor, to provide additional layers of best practice of corporate governance which enhances the project appraisal and due diligence activities of the Fund Management team.

Speaking at the launching, Mr. Peter Ashade, the Group Chief Executive Officer of United Capital Plc stated that “the journey to launch the Fund has taken almost two years, during which period extensive preparatory studies and appraisals were carried out to establish the business case for the Fund, as well as to define a model and governance framework that would provide investors that have an appetite for long-term financing products (such as pension funds and insurance companies), with sufficient confidence of the attractiveness of UCIF, as an investment opportunity.”

United Capital Plc is a financial services group with activities that include Investment Banking, Asset Management, Trustees, Securities Trading, Wealth Management and Consumer Finance. The Group is headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria, with operations and presence in West Africa.

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Banking Sector

United Bank for Africa (UBA) Sustains Profitability in Q3, 2021, Grows Profit by 34.59 Percent

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United Bank for Africa Plc, one of the leading financial services providers in Nigeria, sustained profitability in the third quarter (Q3) ended September 30, 2021, according to the bank’s latest unaudited financial report released on Monday.

The lender’s interest income grew by 8.54 percent from N111.556 billion achieved in the third quarter of 2020 to N121.078 billion in the third quarter of 2021.

Interest expense moderated to N39.881 billion in the quarter under review despite the increase recorded in interest income. This represents an improvement of 12.47 percent when compared to the N44.858 billion filed in the corresponding quarter of 2020.

United Bank for Africa’s net interest income stood at N81.197 billion in Q3 2021, up by 21.73 percent from N66.698 billion recorded in Q3 2020.

The bank grew net fee and commission income by 25.40 percent from N17.663 billion in Q3 2020 to N22.150 billion in Q3 2021.

Similarly, the lender grew total non-interest income by 25.22 percent to N38.041 billion in the period under review, up from N30.377 billion achieved in the corresponding quarter.

Net operating income after impairment loss on loans and receivables jumped 22.8 percent to N119.970 billion, while the total operating expenses inched higher to N73.182 billion, an increase of 20.89 percent when compared to N60.533 billion filed in Q3 2020.

Profit before tax rose by 41.87 percent from N33.244 billion in Q3 2020 to N47.166 billion in Q3 2021. United Bank for Africa paid N3.152 billion in income tax in the third quarter of 2021.

Therefore, the bank’s profit after tax grew by an impressive 34.59 percent to N44.014 billion from N32.702 billion in Q3 2020. Earnings per share expanded from N0.70 in Q3 2020 to N1.25 in Q3 2021.

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