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N6.98 USSD Flat Rate Will Stabilise Payment System- CBN

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said the harmonisation of all Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) fees to a single rate of N6.98 will stabilise Nigeria’s payment system.

In a report released on Wednesday, the apex bank said the exercise, which has the backing of key stakeholders, including the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) will boost bank customers’ confidence in the payment system, bring more unbanked and underbanked to the financial system and ensure sustainability of the services to e-payment customers.

According to the apex bank, all USSD charges will henceforth be collected directly from customers’ bank accounts on behalf of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to promote transparency in its administration.

The apex bank said the new plan replaces the per session billing structure, ensuring a much cheaper average cost for customers to enhance financial inclusion adding that the approach is transparent and will ensure the amount remains the same, regardless of the number of sessions per transaction.

It said the wide acceptance and usage of the USSD shows that it remans the best and fastest available communications technology that delivers mobile financial services to s, low-income customers.

The apex bank said it will continue to engage relevant operators and all stakeholders to promote cheaper, seamless access to mobile and financial services for all Nigerians.

The apex bank said that with the new policy, the disagreements that have for long exists between the MNOs and Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) will be put to rest, while assuring that there will no longer be additional charges on customers for use of the USSD channel.

“The protracted disagreements between DMBs and MNOs concerning the appropriate USSD pricing model for financial transactions has been put to rest,” it said.

The CBN added that the USSD is a critical channel for delivering financial services, particularly for the underserved and/or financially excluded.

The resolution framework for pending debts owed MNOs, which is acceptable to all parties has also adopted a settlement plan for outstanding payments incurred for USSD services, previously rendered by the MNOs, is being worked out by all parties in a bid to ensure that the matter is fully resolved.

“MNOs and DMBs shall discuss and agree on the operational modalities for the implementation of the new USSD pricing framework, including sharing of Application Programme Interface (API) to enable seamless, direct and transparent customer billing. DMBs and MNOs are committed to engaging further on strategies to lower cost and enhance access to financial services,” it said.

The stakeholders said the USSD channel remained optional, as several alternative channels such as mobile apps, internet banking and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) may be used for financial transactions.

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Plant Power: Nestlé Launches Dairy Free Milo in Asia

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As consumers in Asia are including more dairy alternatives in their diet, Nestlé is launching plant-based versions of some of its most-loved brands in the region.

That now includes a new plant-based version of Milo, the world’s leading chocolate malt beverage that is enjoyed in many Asian countries.

It will be launched in Asia, starting first in Malaysia, a country with generations of Milo fans going back 70 years to its launch there in 1950. Nestlé Malaysia will also be introducing a range of plant-based Nescafé lattes. Both will appear on shelves this April.

Chocolate malt plant-based deliciousness

People are deeply passionate about their Milo, so the development teams worked hard to deliver the ionic Milo taste while using only plant-based ingredients.

This new version replaces the milk in the original recipe with almond and soy, but the other two core ingredients – malt and cocoa – remain the same.

Each bottle offers 6.5 grams of protein and is also low in sugar, with a combination of vitamins and minerals to support effective energy release.

It follows the launch of a plant-based Milo powder in Australia in 2020, a launch that created huge excitement in the country where Milo was first introduced in 1934.

Mayank Trivedi, Head of the Dairy Strategic Business Unit at Nestlé, said: “Milo is an iconic brand in Malaysia and across Asia, and much-loved across generations. We want to provide consumers with on-trend alternatives in formats they want. That’s why we’re delighted to launch Milo Dairy Free to support people’s lifestyle choices.”

A whole ‘latte’ flavor

Nestlé is a pioneer in innovate plant-based coffee mixes, and Nestlé Malaysia is now introducing a plant-based version of another iconic brand – Nescafé oat and almond lattes.

Plant-based coffee mixes are a popular and growing category. Nestlé has already launched them cross a number of countries in Europe, Latin America and Oceania, and most recently launched a range of plant-based Nescafé and Starbucks lattes in Japan.

The Nescafé Dairy Free Almond Latte combines almond and pea, while oat and soy are the main ingredients for the Nescafé Dairy Free Oat Latte. Both are blended perfectly with smooth Nescafé coffee and can be enjoyed hot or cold.

Plant-based discovery

Using its expertise in dairy products and plant-based proteins, Nestlé is focused on developing a wide variety of dairy alternatives that complement the everyday diet of people. This includes products made from pea, rice, oat, soy, coconut and almonds.

“We’re expanding our offerings across Asia by developing a variety of great-tasting, nutritious and sustainable plant-based products.” says Guglielmo Bonora, Head of Nestlé’s R&D Center in Singapore. “We want to make it easier for people to embrace plant-based alternatives in their diet, while also reducing our carbon footprint across the supply chain.”

Nestlé’s R&D center in Singapore serves as the regional innovation hub for the development of plant-based dairy alternatives in Asia. The center collaborates closely with Nestlé’s global R&D network of around 300 scientists, engineers, and product developers who are active in the research and development of plant-based products.

A rising trend

According to a recent survey by GlobalData, over 40% of consumers in the Asia region are shifting to more plant-based diets, with 11% opting for vegetarian and vegan food, and a third moving to a ‘flexitarian’ diet that is lighter on meat and dairy products.

The need for plant-based dairy alternatives that taste great and offer strong nutritionals is rising, as more families are following this trend. In particular, many consumers cite environmental reasons, as plant-based proteins are produced with significantly lower emissions, land- and water usage.

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MoneyGram Advances Payments As A Service Offering With Sigue Partnership

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MoneyGram International, Inc., a global leader in the evolution of digital P2P payments, today announced a partnership with Sigue Corporation, a leading U.S. based transnational P2P and B2B payment company. 

The partnership enables Sigue’s U.S. customer base to access MoneyGram’s domestic and international receive network, adding scale to Sigue’s existing global footprint.

“Over the last few years, we’ve built a modern, mobile, and API-driven organization that enables companies to seamlessly plug into our global network to provide expanded services for their customers, and we’re thrilled to announce our latest partner integration with Sigue,” said Alex Holmes,MoneyGram Chairman and CEO.

“Opening our global platform to companies like Sigue enables us to increase payment volumes through our network and process additive transactions. MoneyGram has built an extremely valuable, tech-enabled, and scalable global payments infrastructure that can absorb significant volume at very low marginal cost. As other companies plug into our platform, we have the opportunity to create meaningful processing revenue in the years ahead, and I’m excited about the momentum in the market leading to a strong partnership pipeline.” He added.

The MoneyGram and Sigue partnership is the most recent successful integration in the new MoneyGram as a Service business line. Partnerships such as this expand processing volume by enabling other financial institutions to access the Company’s global payout capabilities through its powerful API-driven infrastructure and best-in-class technology.

“We are very enthusiastic about our partnership with MoneyGram, as it allows us to scale further, quicker and keep our resources free to focus on creating the best money remittance experience in the business. It strengthens our market presence as the world’s leading privately owned remittance business and confirms our credentials as a leading technology innovator for the global money services industry,” said Guillermo de la Viña, Sigue CEO and Founder.

“This reaffirms our commitment to serving millions of families through our secure, reliable, and innovative services, with the dignity and respect our customers demand and deserve. The partnership further enables Sigue to better serve our customers by expanding our commitment to provide the value-added services that our customers and agent base expect, which is the cornerstone of our success.” He added

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CAC Seeks FEC’s Approval to Bar Non-Remitting Entities from Public Contracts

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Corporate Affairs Commission

The outgoing Chairman, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) Governing Board, and Nigerian Ambassador designate to Spain, Mr. Ademola Seriki, has said the commission is presently seeking the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), to ensure that registered entities do not benefit from government contracts unless they filed their annual returns.

Speaking to journalists during an appreciation dinner in his honour, which was organised by the CAC, he said the adoption of Good Standing Certificate was particularly historic, pointing out that, “most companies don’t pay annual returns and it’s a problem”.

Seriki, however, said he will use his new position to enhance the country’s bilateral trade relations with Spain, adding that a team would be set up to monitor the implementation of trade treaties between both countries.

He said implementation remained one of the greatest challenges affecting Nigeria’s international bilateral relations.

He expressed concerns that people who don’t pay annual returns bid for procurements and contracts, and oftentimes, won in the exercise even though they do not comply with their financial obligations to the government, adding that there was need to put an end to the trend going forward.

He said: “So, we need to pay our annual returns and we have started the issue of Good Standing Certificate which is awaiting FEC approval. It’s going to the president and by God’s grace, I hope it will be approved.”

Seriki, who played a significant role in the current reforms being undertaken at the CAC, also said, the introduction of notification alerts on accounts transactions by the commission remained not only formidable but unprecedented.

He said he would love to see the reforms initiatives actualised to usher a regime of world class services in company registration in Nigeria.

He said: “We did something formidable in the issue of Good Standing Certificate, it has not been done in history because most companies don’t pay annual returns and it’s a problem.

“And you will see a company that would bid for procurements of hundreds of billions of dollars and never paid annual returns in 20 to 30 years.

“In a very civilised country, even in Ghana, I was in Ghana two weeks ago and I met with the registrar general- all companies that have not paid their annual returns, they have to pull down their names and will no longer be valid.”

According to him:”People register companies to buy properties as a matter of hiding their identities from the public – they should be paying annual returns.”

On the alert notifications option, the outgoing chairman, assured that it will stem abuses from unilateral accounts alterations without full consent of interest parties.

He said: “Husband and wife who have being together do fight, either of them will go behind and change the ownership or siblings when their father and mother die, you know all kinds of things. People do a lot of illegalities and they commit such without having to regret it.

“So, when you opt for notification alert, you get a short code, you get a text message and you get email that your file had been tampered with.

“And that way, you are on the alert and you can go back to CAC and say look, I didn’t do this.”
He added: “We have thousands of cases where people change information without the principal owner’s consent or knowledge.”

Seriki, added that as much as he would have loved to see the reforms come into force, his new ambassadorial assignment, “is a higher job for me, it’s a higher assignment of which I believe it will put my name on a good stead.”

Also, in his remarks at the dinner, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Niyi Adebayo, commended the ambassador designate for having a among the staff of the commission, which helped to achieve significant milestones within his one-year duration.

Similarly, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs. Maryam Katagun, urged Seriki, to make a difference in spain not only in bilateral relations but also pay attention to Nigerians in diaspora.

Meanwhile, the Registrar-General of CAC, Mr. Garba Abubakar, has assured that companies’ registration procedures would be completed within three hours before the end of the year as part of measures to ensure efficient service delivery to the public.

He added that companies’ registration can now be completed without physical presence at the commission’s offices.

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