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Cashless Policy: Nigerians Count Losses in Billions

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  • Cashless Policy: Nigerians Count Losses in Billions

Exactly five years after the much-hyped cashless policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) became fully operational nationwide, there has been an upsurge in the wave of e-banking and other related crimes with over N2.19b lost in 2016 alone. Bukola Aroloye in this report examines the issues.

What finance-related frauds have been on the increase should be a cause of worry to all concerned, especially because such frauds ride on the back of technology. This is particularly true of electronic banking transactions, which ironically the cashless policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, was supposed to address frontally.

Cashless policy in brief

The CBN launched the Cashless Nigeria Project in Lagos State, in January 2012, and extended the policy to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abia, Anambra, Ogun, Kano and Rivers States in June 2013.

The policy was initiated against the backdrop of cash dominance in the payments system, a development which encouraged the circulation of huge sums of money outside the banking system and imposed huge currency management cost on the economy. The policy was meant to ensure price stability through effective monetary policy; sound financial system and efficient payments system.

It was a critical part of the payment system modernisation, designed to promote the use of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), Point of Sale (PoS) terminals, web payment, online transfers and even mobile money in banking transactions instead of relying on cash.

Former CBN Deputy Governor, Operations, Tunde Lemo, who oversaw the cashless policy for the first two years – after its introduction, admitted that there are challenges with the e-payment system but denied that most of the PoS terminals are not working effectively. He said there are challenges with bandwidth of the telecommunications service providers.

“We spoke to the service providers on the need to improve bandwidth which they did and we saw improvement in the Lagos area. We have started talking to NICOMSAT, and they did a test-run in Lagos area and we are satisfied about their proposition. So within the next few weeks, you will notice improvement in connectivity in Lagos area at least,” he said.

Lemo said some supermarket attendants sabotage the system and tell customers that the PoS is not working because paying through the machine denies them the access to tips or free left over cash of N20 or N40 from customers.

“In one of our meetings with the merchants, we told them to build-in some reward system that will still allow the attendants access to the free change they get from customers even as tips without compromising the standard of service. When we do that, you will discover that these things work,” he said.

Banking security fears

Such concerns over banking security have put wide embrace of e-payment channels in abeyance. A recent survey by Visa International showed that high net worth account holders neither own nor use ATM cards. The study revealed that people that earn below N500, 000 per annum, who form 47 per cent of its respondents, own and are regular users of debit cards, including for online purchases. It showed that the higher people earn, the less they own and use their debit cards. Majority of the rich, it said, think that avoiding debit cards is the best way to stay protected from online frauds.

Data obtained from the CBN result for 2012 showed the bank received and processed 6,274 complaints, via e-mail on various financial crimes, particularly advance fee fraud. There were 4,527 cases of fraud and forgery involving the sum of N14.8 billion and $1.6 million.

The CBN also received and investigated four complaints against commercial banks even as the issues were promptly reported to law enforcement agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for investigation. Globally, estimated credit card fraud stood at $11 billion in 2012, making it one of the most significant criminal developments in modern times.

How safe are the ATMs?

According to experts, Nigerian banks are using an outdated Microsoft Windows operating system, which is vulnerable to hacking, for their operations. This is partly responsible for the frauds associated with their operations. Microsoft Nigeria said 95 per cent of all ATMs which run on Windows XP operating system are vulnerable to hacking.

More damning reports

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said the Nigeria InterBank Settlement System (NIBSS) recorded over 1,200 per cent increase in reported fraud cases in 2016, estimated at N2.19 billion when compared to 2014 cases.

According to ‘Dipo Fatokun, CBN’s Director, Banking and Payments System Department and Chairman, Nigeria Electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF), in its latest report, the industry processed transactions in 2016 that amounted to 278,744,529, while the value was over N64 trillion.

While there was an increase of 71 per cent in volume of transactions, there was also an increase of 31 per cent in the value of transactions compared to 2015.

He said the industry recorded about 82 per cent increase in reported fraud cases when compared to 2015 and over 1200 per cent when compared to 2014.

Despite the 82 per cent increase in the reported fraud cases, with an estimated N2.19 billion loss to fraud, the industry was able to reduce fraud by 2.7 per cent when compared to the 2015 figure, he said.

“Comparing the attempted fraud against the actual loss, the industry was able to salvage 49.7 per cent of the total amount attempted by the fraudsters within the year. These figures informed us that there are more attempts on yearly basis with different innovation tricks or modus operandi to take advantage of the system,” he said.

Looking ahead into 2017, Fatokun said the financial industry as a whole must collaborate to ensure a wider gap exists between the attempted fraud and actual loss, adding the analysis in this report would allow us to benchmark and also understand where the vulnerabilities lie.

Despite the attraction of digital banking, the threat of cybercrime remains a concern to banks and their customers. On daily basis, bank customers are inundated with scam mails by fraudsters, in their attempt to hack into the customers e-banking details. The Nigeria Electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF) estimated that about N33 billion was lost to e-fraud in 2016 and beyond. NeFF therefore warned bankers and the banking public against responding to messages that fly into their phones and e-mails on daily basis claiming falsely to originate from banks.

The forum also said it was looking critically at measures that will protect the industry as a whole from the menace of social engineering attacks.

Fatokun said: “Social engineering has become rife in cybercrime attacks in Nigeria. Almost on a daily basis, a plethora of messages are sent by these criminals with the express intent to con the unsuspecting recipient using techniques that appeal to vanity and greed. It is therefore important that we look critically at measures that will protect the industry as a whole from the menace of social engineering attacks.”

The foregoing clearly shows that despite the challenges of infrastructure and cybercrime, by leveraging digital payments, banks can potentially double their payments-related revenue, beating new entrants at their own game. This new thinking about the core value proposition of banking will, however, require an entirely new approach to operations and solutions innovation.

Nevertheless, in order to be competitive in the digital space, banks must design hands-on education campaigns to change their customers—from cash users to cheque writers—to the advantages of digital banking. This means changing the way consumers shop, pay their bills, and manage their finances. Banks will need to undertake an aggressive drive to bring occasional users into the circle of loyal digital customers.

Echoing similar sentiments, Jeremy Boorer, International Director, Easy Solutions, said of the 17 Nigerian banks recently surveyed majority deploy fake mobile apps.

“In 15 of them, we found the following: The firs t to 10th banks checked were found with 13, 10, 17, eight, 11, eight, nine, 13, seven and 20 fake mobile apps respectively. The 11th to 15th banks were also found with 11, 14, 13, 16 and 15 fake mobile apps.”

He warned bank customers that app stores were full of fake apps claiming to come from banks, saying once a customer downloads and enters financial information, including credit/debit cards details and personal identity numbers (PIN), his/her money is gone as the fraudster will clone the cards or transfer the money through online banking immediately.

“In the last four weeks, we discovered that hundreds of defacement attacks are going on Nigerian banks by hackers. It against highlights the fact that the websites are not totally secure. Email is still the primary attack channel. They pretend to be customers of the banks to contact the bank. E-fraud is initiated through account takeover, new account and true person/mule.”

Boorer said all channel fraud happens in one of the above fraud types through malware, phishing, social engineering, account opening process gaps (KYC/CIP).

According to him, “Social media seems to be a concern as banks create social media accounts and ask prospective customers to open bank ac-counts on social media.

“Fake banks are springing up on the social media and the data that are used to open such accounts, you don’t know where it ends. There are financial motivations to trick people to create social media accounts to steal financial/credit information which are sold in the dark internet market for as low as $10 by competing dark internet hacker sites.”

But Fatokun, who was represented by Mrs Margaret Ogundana, head, Banking and Payment System, CBN at a seminar in Lagos recently said the apex bank was not just advocating e-payments but doing all it could to ensure that users’ funds are well protected as they embrace e-payment.

“CBN has, therefore, been a champion for the fight against e-fraud in Nigeria. Several initiatives, directives and fora of this nature had been at the forefront of our activities at CBN,” he said, noting that the apex bank in 2010 introduced EMV cards policy which reduced the card fraud to the barest minimum.

Way forward

Director General of the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM), Professor Akpan Ekpo, cautioned banks to be careful with the deployment of digital banking services.

While Ekpo pointed out that electronic banking channels were not bad, he held the view that a large chunk of the country’s population resided in the rural areas and lack basic infrastructure required to access digital banking.

“Electronic banking is not bad. But we must be concerned about those in the rural areas. Most bank customers live in the rural areas where the basic infrastructure is lacking and we must understand that we have just a small segment of urban dwellers. Even the cashless policy is not effective in a lot of areas. There is also the concern of cybercrime, which is also a threat to digital banking,” Ekpo stated.

National Chairman, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria (PSAN), Mr. Boniface Okezie, said Nigeria was not ripe for the digital banking revolution.

He urged banks to continue to increase their brick and mortar branches, arguing that the cashless policy has not been successful.

According to Okezie, the country must first address its major infrastructure issues before delving into the technology innovation.

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.

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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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With Giants Campaign, FirstBank is Truly Woven Into The Fabric of Society

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Olusegun-Alebiosu-MD,CEO Firstbank

In its usual creative conjecture, 13O-year-old FirstBank, has hit the airwaves and other media outlets with various visuals to articulate its new campaign ‘The Giant in You’. Breaking down the central message, ‘there is a giant in you’ the campaign stylishly reminds the bank customer that ‘FirstBank Puts You First so you can’ before giving the match order, ‘Live the Giant-Life.

For a bank that settles for the big ‘elephant’, as logo and has remained strong for 130 years, worlds like giant, tall and strides, used in the various visuals are simply validations of its robustness, endurance, doggedness and tall ambition. As part of the ways to convey the bank’s message to its array of patrons, SO&U, the creative agency behind the campaign cleverly selected its cast and buildings, including FirstBank’s corporate headquarters, to reflect the bigness, the tallness and the boldness of the 130-year-old financial institution to rule the world as far as banking and business support are concerned.

Unraveling the ‘Giant’ strides…

Among other reasons, the new campaign must have been conceptualized to position FirstBank as a ‘giant’ and ‘future-ready’ institution that is dependable, innovative and proactive in supporting its customers and stakeholders win in the race to the future and be in a position to take advantage of the opportunities and possibilities of that emerging future.

Driven by the conviction that  consumers want to turn their big dreams into giant successes, the new campaign reminds the consumer that in today’s world of constant disruptions and integrated experiences, the customer needs a strong, stable and supportive partner, with the appropriate platforms, innovative solutions and networks to not only support their aspirations but also be responsive and adaptive enough to anticipate their needs and empower them to success.

Looking through the visuals and the television commercial, it’s easy to conclude that the campaign narrative is not about the brand but the customer. For instance, the creative path illustrates the world as it moves and changes at lightning speed, the customer is reminded that just like the world, everything within it is also changing, from economies to businesses and even opportunities.
“We recognise that to be in sync with the world will require a forward thinking and future ready mindset …and we have created the atmosphere, products and services to help our customers,” the bank stated.

To underscore ‘the big idea’ and the ‘bringing out the Giant in you’ theme, key visuals speak to the essence of the campaign and are accompanied with long and straight legs in a demonstrative form to take the purported giant step. Here the messages are passed under the following; ready to take giant strides?, strides into the future, let’s take giant strides together, stand tall, stand out, think giant solutions, among others.

Facts and figures…

Like Coca-Cola, the world number one brand, one other thing that has consistently worked for the FirstBank brand is that the promoters have never, for once allowed complacency to set in. The implication of this is that the bank is not only the oldest, but also one of the most digitally compliant banks.  Currently, First Bank stands tall via First Bank digital solutions, employs market-leading digital platforms and solution driven products and services. Besides, the use of AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) by the bank enables the financial brand to initiate 85 percent of its transactions via digital platforms leading to quick responses to customers’ needs and satisfaction. In this regard, FirstBank has been recognised by Interswitch as the first financial institution in Nigeria to achieve 100 million sustained monthly transactions in electronic payment and it has hit N1 trillion transactions through the FirstMonie Agent network.

Speaking during the unveiling of the new thematic brand campaign, Head, Brand and Stakeholder management at FirstBank, Yinka Ijabiyi, reiterated that FirstBank came up with the new campaign because of its belief that there is a ‘giant’ in every customer, every employee and every stakeholder.

He said, “This campaign was informed by our belief that there is ‘giant’ in every stakeholder a giant dream, a giant possibility, a giant idea, a giant life and a giant future waiting to be birthed. Our commitment is therefore to provide all necessary business support, financial know-how and platforms to bring out the giant in every customer.”

Ijabiyi further pointed out that the campaign was conceptualised by the bank in a bid to show customers in its 130 years, that it has been supporting and creating giants and that it has no plan to stop anytime soon.

He said the bank, in its celebration of its 130 years in business, came up with a campaign that speaks to the business essence of its brand which is making giants of its customers.

“We have always done it and the fact we have been around for such a long time means good to everybody as we have been supporting businesses, individuals and government in those years. “We are making giants and there is no business that interacts with us that does not see the benefits in their business. We are making giants in our customers and we will not stop.

“We are the partner with tailored solutions for every customer, employee, and stakeholder. We have what it takes to turn dreams into giant successes. FirstBank’s services are designed to help customers “giant-size” their dreams, offering businesses the platforms and solutions needed to grow, innovate, and achieve remarkable success.” Ijabiyi added that the array of products, solutions and services offered by FirstBank cannot be compared with any financial services in Nigeria.

For its customers, the bank said “We would enable, inspire and support you with our world of financial services to help you to giant-size your dreams and live your best life”. It also said it “would give businesses and business owners the right platforms and solutions they need to grow, initiate and execute bold ideas.

Meanwhile, the creative agency behind the campaign has hinted to the media that the unveiled materials were mere ‘tip of the iceberg’ as efforts are ongoing to domesticate the same campaign in local languages to connect with customers across the major ethnic groups in Nigeria.

A peep into the past…

When the promoters said First Bank was “truly the first, many grudgingly agreed. But deep inside its competitors – the possible grudging camp – is the truth regarding the extreme distance the bank has given others in performance and people relevance of its operations! They knew the bank was not bluffing. Not only has it rediscovered itself, but the ability to shed its ancient mindset in terms of operations and blend with modern trends in banking have left many agreeing that perhaps, the saying that the older the wine the better it gets in taste actually applies to FirstBank. To this end, it’s not by accident that First Bank has produced at least two former governors of the CBN and a Finance Minister, including Chief Joseph Sanusi and the current Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

Perhaps the current campaign is an offshoot of a story-telling Television Commercial, by the bank to reflect the beginning of modern banking and how the bank has consistently grown with Nigeria’s enterprises through partnership and innovation.

The referenced TVC says it all: A combination of historical renaissance and quite prescient validation of the innovation that usually drives its bewitching communicational ads. From the groundnut pyramids of the north, which was the symbol of the regions commercial edge and the cocoa bean mountains of Western Nigeria to the rubber plantations of the East and Mid-eastern region, First Bank has applied its new campaign to remind its decades-old patrons, customers, and even competitors, that the beat has refused to abate.

Throughout the campaign, FirstBank subtly registers itself in the minds of the banking public that it’s entirely Nigerian – past, present, and the future. The well-crafted historical simulation captures how FirstBank opened its first branch in Lagos in 1894 and started helping merchandise and local traders to grow their businesses. The excitement and enthusiasm on the faces of the bank’s early customers after getting their cash books from the Lagos office say it all. Like someone who has gotten a glimpse of what the future holds with banking, the customers express surprises and happiness. The commercial captures the mood and goes back in memory lane on how the bank has helped many people succeed in their ventures. Subtly, the narrator takes viewers to Kano and reveals how the then richest men in the commercial city were making their deposit of 20 bags of Silver in an atmosphere that looks like the first operational day of the bank.

Perhaps the beauty of the commercial lies more in the way it strikes a balance between the ancient and the modern days through setting and swapping of background colours. This was cleverly explored in referencing the way the bank transformed into an online haven, driven by technology. While reminding the patrons of the bank’s transformation and technological advancement, the narrator is quick to talk about the expansion of the bank beyond the shores of Nigeria to the West-African region and beyond. The TVC also positions FirstBank as a socially responsible brand by touching on various initiatives it has embarked on. Specifically, First Bank’s contribution to Sports through its support for football and athletics is captured very well.

The ‘Giant in You’ is another chapter as the bank begins a fresh journey after operating for 130 years.

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Banking Sector

Jaiz Bank Boosts Chairman’s Income to N24m Amidst Strategic Expansion

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Jaiz Bank

Jaiz Bank has announced a 20% increase in its chairman’s annual income to N24 million.

This decision was unveiled in a recent statement filed with the Nigeria Exchange Limited, highlighting the bank’s commitment to rewarding leadership amidst its expansion plans.

The bank, renowned for its pioneering role in non-interest banking in Nigeria since 2012, also approved a remuneration package of N20 million for each non-executive director.

The announcement was made by the bank’s secretary, Mohammed Shehu, highlighting the importance of competitive compensation for board members who provide crucial oversight and strategic guidance.

Shareholders at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) expressed confidence in the board’s leadership by approving the resolution on directors’ fees.

This move aligns with Jaiz Bank’s ongoing efforts to enhance its capital base to N70 billion by the end of 2024.

The bank also announced a dividend of 4 kobo per share, which will be distributed to shareholders on July 16, 2024.

This dividend declaration was welcomed as a testament to the bank’s operational success in a challenging economic climate.

Also, the AGM saw the re-election of Muhammadu Indimi and Muhammad Abdulmutallab as non-executive directors, reaffirming shareholder trust in their leadership capabilities.

Jaiz Bank’s financial performance has been impressive, with a 67% increase in profit before tax, reaching N11.1 billion in 2023.

Gross earnings also rose by 42% to N47.2 billion from the previous year, showcasing the bank’s successful growth strategy.

As Jaiz Bank continues to expand its services, the enhanced remuneration package signals a commitment to maintaining strong governance and leadership, paving the way for future achievements in ethical banking.

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