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Banks Raise Dollar Spending by 900%

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Dollar to Naira Exchange Rate - Investors King
  • Banks Raise Dollar Spending by 900%

There is something to cheer for bank customers travelling abroad. Commercial banks have raised customers’ international dollar spending limit on overseas Point of Sale (PoS) and online card transactions by 900 per cent, it was learnt yesterday.

The policy shift is expected to help travellers pay their hotel bills, make reservations and other transactions using their debit cards.

The decision to increase the spending limit followed improved dollar liquidity in the market triggered by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)-sustained interventions.

The interventions have yielded results and reduced foreign currency pressure on many lenders.

The CBN has pumped over $6 billion into key segments of the market in the last four months, an initiative that has strengthened the naira against the dollar.

Some of the funds have helped banks meet retail demand for Personal Travel Allowances (PTA), Business Travel Allowances (BTA), medical needs and school fees payment abroad.

Also, the Investors’ and Exporters’ FX introduced on April 24 to attract foreign investors and boost the supply of dollars has traded around $3.83 billion since it was established. It has also impacted on naira’s stability and improved dollar liquidity in the market, helping banks to review their dollar spending positions.

In a report to customers titled: Upward Review of the International Spending Limit on Your Naira MasterCard’ GTBank raised monthly dollar spending limit on naira MasterCard from $100 to $1,000 representing 900 per cent increase. The bank said: “We write to inform you of the monthly spending limits currently applicable when using your GTBank Naira MasterCard for International payments”.

The bank said customers could access the fund through Point of Sale (POS) and other online channels. The bank however, said international cash withdrawal was still restricted.

Many of the lenders, at the height of forex scarcity, pegged monthly transactions on PoS and online transactions using cards at $100, British Pounds Sterling 90, Euro 130 and Canadian Dollars 360.

Stanbic IBTC Bank, United Bank for Africa, Access Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria (StanChart) and GTBank last October, announced the suspension of their overseas Automated Teller Machine card services. Also suspended by the banks were all foreign currency-denominated transactions, including those conducted on PoS machines and online.

The naira was then exchanging at N310 to the dollar in the official market and N450 to the dollar in the parallel market. The naira has since appreciated at both official and parallel markets. It was yesterday exchanging at N306 to dollar in the official market and N368 to the dollar in the parallel market.

During the dollar crisis era, many banks encouraged travellers to open dollar accounts, which have no spending limit. Such cards are issued by the banks on domiciliary accounts funded directly by customers.

Speaking on the new development, Head of Treasury at Ecobank Nigeria, Olakunle Ezun, said with improvement in the business environment, especially in the foreign exchange market, many commercial banks now enjoy improved dollar liquidity which prompted them to review spending limit on POS and online deals.

He said: “A lot of banks have improved liquidity. We’re returning to the pre-crisis era, when access to the dollar was not restricted. The CBN has settled a lot of outstanding dollar obligations which affected banks’ positions”.

According to Ezun, the banks were postponing settlement of dollar obligations during the crisis era, but those obligations are now cleared. ”There are no more outstanding obligations that will put pressure on banks’ dollar holdings. Those obligations are matured and fully settled by the CBN,” he said.

Confirming the rising dollar liquidity in the economy, Fitch Ratings said Nigerian banks’ ability to access dollar has improved considerably since the CBN introduced a foreign exchange “window” at end-April aimed at investors and exporters.

It admitted the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Rate Fixing (NAFEX) mechanism, commonly referred to as the “Investors’ and Exporters’ FX Window”, is boosting foreign currency supply and the flow of dollar liquidity into the banking system.

It said improved access to dollar means that liquidity pressures have, for now, eased for Fitch-rated banks.

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

Banking Sector

CBN Rate Hikes Raise Borrowing Costs for Banks Seeking FX

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Retail banking

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has implemented a significant adjustment to its borrowing rates.

The move, which follows the CBN’s recent decision to adjust the asymmetric corridor around the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR), has led to an increase in the cost of borrowing for banks seeking foreign exchange (FX).

This decision comes amid heightened concerns over the Naira’s performance and inflation rates.

According to Bismarck Rewane, Managing Director/CEO of Financial Derivatives Company Limited, the adjustment means that banks now face borrowing costs of nearly 32% from the CBN, a sharp increase from the previous rate of approximately 26%.

This change in borrowing costs is intended to deter banks from relying on the CBN for FX purchases, thereby reducing pressure on the Naira.

Data reveals that in the first five days of July 2024, banks borrowed an unprecedented N5.38 trillion from the CBN, marking a record high.

The increased borrowing costs are expected to reduce this practice, thereby alleviating some of the strain on the Naira.

Despite these efforts, the Naira has continued to struggle. On Tuesday, the Naira depreciated by 3.13% against the US dollar, with the exchange rate falling to N1,548.76.

This decline is attributed to reduced dollar supply and ongoing uncertainty surrounding Nigeria’s foreign reserves.

The black market saw an even sharper drop, with the Naira falling to 1,687 per dollar, reflecting broader concerns about currency stability.

Rewane highlighted that the recent rate hikes are part of a broader strategy by the CBN to manage inflation and stabilize the Naira.

“The increase in borrowing costs is a necessary step to address the carry trade practices where banks use cheap funds from the CBN to buy FX and sell it at higher rates,” he explained.

The CBN’s decision to raise borrowing costs comes amid a backdrop of persistent inflation and rising interest rates.

Over the past three years, the CBN has raised interest rates 12 times, with recent adjustments aimed at managing liquidity and curbing inflation.

As of June 2024, Nigeria’s headline Consumer Price Index (CPI) reached 34.19%, up from 33.95% in May.

The central bank’s policy changes are expected to have mixed effects.

Analysts at FBNQuest anticipate that banks will continue to benefit from the high-interest rate environment, potentially leading to a shift of assets from equities to fixed-income securities as investors seek higher yields.

The CBN remains committed to navigating Nigeria through these challenging economic conditions.

By adjusting borrowing costs and implementing tighter monetary policies, the central bank aims to strike a balance between managing inflation, stabilizing the Naira, and supporting overall economic growth.

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Finance

Senate Passes Bill for 70% Windfall Levy on Banks’ Forex Gains

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Naira Exchange Rates - Investors King

The Nigerian Senate has approved an amendment to the Finance Act of 2023, increasing the windfall levy on banks’ foreign exchange gains from 50% to 70%.

The bill was passed during a plenary session on Tuesday after a thorough review by the Finance Committee.

The Senate’s decision aims to address the significant profits banks have accrued due to recent foreign exchange policy shifts.

This windfall is viewed as a product of government intervention rather than the banks’ strategic efforts, prompting the call for redistribution.

The additional revenue from this levy is expected to contribute to financing the N6.2 trillion Appropriation Amendment Bill.

This funding will support various government projects and initiatives, ensuring that the windfall benefits are reinvested into the economy.

The Senate also approved amendments to the payment timeline, setting the levy to take effect from the start of the new foreign exchange regime through 2025, avoiding retrospective application from January 2024.

Also, the Upper Chamber removed the proposed jail term for principal officers of defaulting banks.

Instead, banks that fail to remit the levy will incur a penalty of 10% per annum on the withheld amount, alongside interest at the prevailing Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Minimum Rediscount Rate.

This legislative move aligns with President Tinubu’s broader fiscal strategy, which aims to optimize national revenue through independent sources.

The amendment underscores the Senate’s commitment to leveraging bank profits for national development, especially amid economic challenges.

While some industry stakeholders express concerns about the impact on banking operations, others see this as a necessary step towards equitable wealth distribution and economic stability.

The bill’s passage is anticipated to have significant implications for both the financial sector and the broader economy.

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Banking Sector

Zenith Bank Retains Position As Nigeria’s Number One Bank By Tier-1 Capital For Fifteen Consecutive Years In The 2024 Top 1000 World Banks’ Ranking

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For the fifteenth consecutive year, Zenith Bank Plc has retained its position as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital in the 2024 Top 1000 World Banks’ Rankings, published by The Banker Magazine.

This ranking places Zenith Bank Plc as the 565th Bank globally with a Tier-1 Capital of $2.01 billion. The rankings, published in the July 2024 edition of The Banker Magazine of the Financial Times Group, United Kingdom, recognise Zenith Bank’s continued financial strength and stability.

They are based on the 2023 year-end Tier-1 capital of banks globally and remain the primary source for global bank financials used by most international organisations in their assessments of banks.

Tier-1 Capital describes capital adequacy, the core measure of a bank’s financial strength from a regulator’s perspective.

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.

A strong Tier-1 capital ratio boosts investor and depositor confidence, indicating the Bank is well-capitalised and financially stable.

Commenting on this achievement, the Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, Dame (Dr.) Adaora Umeoji, OON, said, “We are deeply honoured to be recognised as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital for the fifteenth consecutive year. This recognition is a testament to our strategic focus on sustainable growth, innovation, and customer satisfaction. It also emphasises our resilience and strength in navigating the ever-evolving financial landscape. Our dedicated team of professionals has remained steadfast in ensuring that we maintain our position at the forefront of the banking industry.”

She extended her profound and sincere appreciation to the Founder and Chairman, Dr. Jim Ovia, CFR, whose visionary and transformative leadership has played a pivotal role in cultivating a resilient and thriving establishment.

She also expressed her deep appreciation for the board’s insightful governance, the staff’s relentless dedication, and the unwavering loyalty of the bank’s esteemed customers to the Zenith brand.

Zenith Bank’s financial performance for the year was driven by a remarkable triple-digit growth of 125% in gross earnings, from N945.6 billion reported in 2022 to N2.132 trillion in 2023. This growth led to an improved market share in both the retail and corporate segments despite a persistently challenging macroeconomic environment.

The increase in gross earnings was primarily due to growth in interest and non-interest income. Interest income growth was attributed to the increase in the size of risk assets and their effective repricing, while non-interest income was driven by significant trading gains and gains from the revaluation of foreign currencies.

Zenith Bank recently commenced recapitalisation efforts with the conclusion of its Capital Markets Day held on 11th July 2024. It aims to raise the least amount of capital amongst its peers at N230 billion, considering it already maintains a robust capital base of N270.7 billion.

The Bank remains dedicated to supporting the growth of the Nigerian economy and providing its numerous customers with innovative and efficient banking solutions.

Zenith Bank’s track record of excellent performance has continued to earn the brand numerous awards, with these latest accolades coming on the heels of several recognitions. These include being recognised as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital for the fourteenth consecutive year in the 2023 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking, published by The Banker Magazine.

The Bank was also awarded the Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards for 2020 and 2022; and Most Sustainable Bank, Nigeria in the International Banker 2024 Banking Awards.
Further recognitions include Best Bank in Nigeria for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022 in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards and Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria for three consecutive years from 2021 to 2023 in the World Finance Banking Awards.

Additionally, Zenith Bank has been acknowledged as the Best Corporate Governance Bank, Nigeria, in the World Finance Corporate Governance Awards for 2022 and 2023, and ‘Best in Corporate Governance’ Financial Services’ Africa for four consecutive years from 2020 to 2023 by the Ethical Boardroom.

The Bank’s commitment to excellence saw it being named the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands for 2020 and 2021, and Retail Bank of the Year for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022 at the BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards.

The Bank also received the accolades of Most Sustainable Bank, Nigeria, in the International Banker 2023 Banking Awards, Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria and Best Innovation in Retail Banking, Nigeria, in the International Banker 2022 Banking Awards. Zenith Bank was named Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020, Bank of the Year 2021 by Champion Newspaper, Bank of the Year 2022 by New Telegraph Newspaper, and Most Responsible Organisation in Africa 2021 by SERAS Awards.

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