- 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.
Wema Bank, MOD Launch Scheme For International Students
Wema Bank has launched an advisory and loan scheme, the Education Advisory Service, in partnership with MOD Education for young Nigerians wishing to study abroad.
Following foreign exchange control measures introduced by the government, parents and guardians have experienced difficulties paying tuition fees for their children and wards studying abroad. Some who have the money don’t know the requirements for foreign admission and waste lots of time and resources in fruitless searches.
But to help them surmount these challenges, Wema Bank has partnered with MOD Education, a professional student advisory, marketing, recruitment and placement company for the advisory services and school fees advance facility. The partnership, which was launched on Friday, April 9 at Eko Hotels, Victoria Island, will see both organizations providing innovative education advisory services and funds for international students.
Speaking about the partnership, Divisional Head, Retail Business, Wema Bank, Dotun Ifebogun, explained that the initiative would aid hundreds of thousands of Nigerians requiring advisory and financial support to pay for their wards in foreign schools.
He explained that Wema Bank does not want the aspirations of Nigerians desirous of foreign education truncated, hence the support.
“We are interested in everything that concerns our customers, and education is one of them. Some parents and guardians desire a certain quality of education for their wards outside the shores of Nigeria, and we would be able to assist them with this product. Our school fees advance loan results from the requests of parents and guardians who need to get short term financial support to meet the tuition obligation of their wards irrespective of the constant increase in fees.
“There’s nothing as heartbreaking as withdrawing a child already in a foreign university or being unable to raise the requisite forex for a child offered admission in a top-rated foreign institution of higher learning. But our school fees advance loan will take care of this problem and help secure the futures of such students – both undergraduates and postgraduates. The fact that you get counsel from the right sources at any particular time is another benefit of this product.
Also, the Managing Director, MOD Education, Michael Dosunmu, expressed gratitude to Wema Bank for the partnership. “Wema Bank has been supportive to us as a business and it was just a natural marriage. We trust the bank enough to bank with them, and our trust is enough to recommend it to others.”
NAIC Pays N1.7bn Claims to Farmers
The Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC) said it paid a total of N1.7 billion claims to over 5,000 farmers in the past two years.
NAIC, which is the only federal government owned insurance company authorised to offer agric insurance services to farmers at subsidised rate, said a breakdown of the paid claims showed that it paid N856 million to insured farmers in 2019 and N848 million in 2020.
Commenting on the development, NAIC Managing Director, Mrs. Folashade Joseph, said the claims were paid to the farmers to cover losses incurred in the course of doing business.
Joseph, enjoined agricultural investors and lending institutions to continue to partner NAIC by taking agricultural insurance cover that will enable them remain firm in business despite unforeseen circumstances from weather conditions and other risks in order to realise the food security agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari.
She said the above-mentioned amount was shared among five million farmers who suffered various setbacks in their farms as a result of natural course.
According to her, the NAIC Agric Insurance Scheme was launched in 1987 by federal government to restore the confidence and productivity of Nigerian farmers who suffered losses as a result of natural disaster such as flood, drought, pest and diseases.
The NAIC boss explained that the essence of the sensitisation campaign embarked by the corporation was to let the farmers know and understand exactly what NAIC does, the importance of insurance, and make them understand how insurance works, how they can access NAIC products and services, how to process their claims, as well as what insurance stands to do for them.
“Agribusiness is evolving fast and so many risks are being thrown up, many new participants are coming into the business of agriculture, and the risks are on the increase if you look at them across the value chain, there is no so many participants so we need to keep sensitising the farmers and let them know we are serving them, and we need to know from them how to serve them,” she explained.
Speaking further, she said, “our assurance to farmers is that when they are insured and they suffer losses covered by any of the policies they purchased, including natural disasters and whatever, they will get paid for their losses, and that is the purpose of insurance and setting up NAIC.
“Our motor is ‘Plowing the Farmer Back to Business, Plowing the Farmers into Prosperity’, and we settle claims.”
She said NAIC currently deals with thousands of farmers (Small, Medium, and Large scale farmers) across the country, adding that the corporation serves farmers with investment as little as N100, 000, and at the same time serves multinational farmers.
UBA Organises Capacity Building Forum
As part of its commitment to support the growth and sustainability of micro, small and medium-scale enterprises (MSME) in the continent, the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, is set to organise the next edition of its UBA Business Series.
The UBA Business Series which is a monthly event, is an MSME Workshop as well as a capacity building initiative of the bank where business leaders and professionals share well-researched insights on best practices for running successful businesses, especially in the face of the difficult operating environment that dominates the African business landscape.
Through this initiative, UBA has been assisting with essential tips to help businesses re-examine their models and strategies and ensure that they stay afloat and remain thriving, a statement from the bank explained.
The topic for the next edition of the series is, “Managing Performance for Business Growth,” and it will be held today, via Microsoft Teams.
At this session, the Managing Director, Secure ID Limited, Mrs Kofo Akinkugbe, will be sharing useful tips and insights on the key strategies of performance management to boost business growth.
Akinkugbe is the founder of SecureID Nigeria, a MasterCard, VISA and Verve certified Smartcard Personalization Bureau and Digital Technology company. She currently serves as the Managing Director/CEO, Secure Card Manufacturing, – a Smartcard manufacturing plant producing high security identity cards and documents for the Banking, Telecoms and Public sectors across Africa and beyond.
UBA’s Head, SME Banking, Sampson Aneke said of Akinkugbe, “with her vast experience garnered over the years from various sectors, she will help business owners understand how performance management strategies can be effectively implemented to ensure business growth.”
He emphasised UBA’s commitment and deep passion for small businesses, which according to him, remains the engine of any developing economy adding, “We know small businesses are the backbone of the economy in every country. In many climes, businesses with fewer than 100 employees account for 98.2 per cent of all businesses. This no doubt captures the importance of SMEs to a thriving economy which is why UBA is committed to seeing them flourish.”
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