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Mutual Benefits Drives Financial Inclusion

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Mutual Benefits Assurance Plc says it is committed to deepening financial inclusion and creating easy accessibility for insurance in the country.

A statement from the firm on Friday said it expressed this commitment when it inaugurated its South-West region franchise operations in Ibadan, Oyo State.

The Managing Director, Mr Femi Asenuga, said this was part of its efforts to develop the insurance business and create values.

He said, “The role we all have to play is to be ambassadors of Mutual Benefits.

“A franchise is a well-known word and the way Mutual Benefits practices franchise is in our normal style of creating and adding value; we never rest.”

Asenuga said that the firm was working with stakeholders to increase awareness and take its message to the grassroots.

In developed economies, he said, insurance firms owned banks. He regretted that this was not the situation in Nigeria.

He said the firm would provide stakeholders with the platform and support to make them excel as a member.

The Managing Director, Mutual Benefits Life Assurance Limited, Mr Ademola Ifagbayi, appreciated the stakeholders and urged them to take advantage of the franchise.

The Group Managing Director, Odua Group, Mr Adewale Raji, in his address, advised stakeholders to be committed and showcase good character and integrity.

He said, “The Odua investment is owned by the six South-West governments and it is in our interest when economic, businesses and investment spreads across the South-West states.

“This is an opportunity for us to strengthen insurance penetration within the South-West states.”

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Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom Partners Ibom Air

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The Bayelsa State Government has opened partnership discussions with its Akwa Ibom counterpart on the use of the new domestic carrier, Ibom Air to start commercial flight operations at the Bayelsa International Airport.

Speaking as the leader of a high-powered delegation from Bayelsa at a meeting in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, the Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, noted that the choice of Ibom Air was informed by proximity and good bilateral relations between the two states.

Ewhrudjakpo, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Doubara Atasi, explained that Akwa Ibom has proved itself as a dependable neighbour to Bayelsa in so many ways over the years, which must be reciprocated “in the spirit of give and take”.

He expressed optimism that the partnership deal would soon be sealed for the airline to commence flights to and from Bayelsa, Lagos and Abuja, describing the two routes as the highest in traffic for the people of the state.

The Deputy Governor assured Bayelsans and members of the public of the present administration’s commitment to ensure smooth operations at the state airport, which is adjudged to be one of the best in the country by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

According to him, the state government was applying the business principle of, “starting small to grow big,” by going for a 50-Seater aircraft in its present deal with Ibom Air to promote socioeconomic activities in the state.

Ewhrudjakpo, who likened efforts for acquiring the operational licence to Nelson Mandela’s “Long walk to Freedom”, however, added that government, had plans to do business with other airlines in the near future.

“Basically, we are here to discuss how we can have mutually beneficial partnership with your airline, IbomAir. And our target is on any of your aircraft that has the capacity of about 50 seaters because we don’t want to start too big,” he said.

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PayPal Acquires Happy Returns Logistics Business

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PayPal announced that it’s acquiring Happy Returns, a returns solution provider that offers online shoppers access to easier ways to send back unwanted merchandise to retailers without having to box it up and ship it themselves.

The company today offers a network of over 2,600 drop-off returns locations in the U.S., including those in over 1,200 metros and in every U.S. state.

It also has relationships with hundreds of brands that have been using its returns software and reverse logistics services. The company says it will continue to offer its returns experience to online retailers and shoppers as a part of PayPal.

Founded in 2015, Santa Monica-based Happy Returns’ value proposition was to take some of the overhead and cost out of the returns process for online retailers. Because online shoppers can’t inspect items they buy directly, online retail tends to see higher return rates, especially in apparel. Happy Returns found that online items are 3 to 4 times as likely to be returned than those purchased in-store, for example.

Meanwhile, today’s retailers have to compete with giants like Amazon and Walmart, both of which enable returns more easily for their customers by way of their large brick-and-mortar footprints — Amazon with Whole Foods other locations, and Walmart with its own stores. In fact, the foot traffic that offering an Amazon returns desk or locker system in-store has led retailers like Kohl’s and Stein Mart to embrace the enemy by catering to shoppers with Amazon returns in their own stores.

Today, the Happy Returns solution offers a combination of software, services and logistics that allows retailers to manage their returns through their own retail stores, by the carrier, as well as through Happy Returns’ “Return Bar” locations. These are found in physical retail stores like Paper Source, Sur La Table, Cost Plus World Market, and others. The service has been used by several digitally native brands, including Everlane, Rothy’s, and Parachute Home, among others.

Happy Returns has also been closely working with PayPal throughout its history, it notes. And notably, PayPal made a strategic investment in the business in 2019, as part of an $11 million financing round.

Following the deal’s close, Happy Returns will continue to work with retailers and shoppers both on and off PayPal’s platform, it says. The company’s co-founders, David Sobie and Mark Geller, and its full 120+ team will join PayPal and will report to Frank Keller, VP Consumer In-Store and Digital Commerce at PayPal.

PayPal is not disclosing the deal terms. To date, Happy Returns had raised $25 million in funding.

“This is an incredibly exciting milestone for our company, and it would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our entire team,” an announcement on Happy Returns’ website reads. “We are so proud of what our team has accomplished and are grateful for the tenacity, creativity and empathy Happy Returns employees bring to work each day. We are confident that the best is yet to come, and are looking forward to our next chapter as part of the PayPal organization.”

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MoneyGram and Coinme Partner to Expand Access to Bitcoin

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MoneyGram International, a global leader in cross-border P2P payments and money transfers, and Coinme Inc., the largest licensed cryptocurrency cash exchange in the U.S., announced the launch of a new partnership to enable the cash funding and payout of digital currency purchases and sales.

The partnership, which utilizes MoneyGram’s modern, mobile and API-driven payments platform and Coinme’s proprietary cryptocurrency exchange and custody technology, will bring bitcoin to thousands of new point-of-sale locations in the U.S., with plans to expand to select international markets in the second half of 2021.

“This innovative partnership opens our business to an entirely new customer segment as we are the first to pioneer a crypto-to-cash model by building a bridge with Coinme to connect bitcoin to local fiat currency,” said Alex Holmes, MoneyGram Chairman and CEO. “Our unique, global network is an incredibly valuable asset, and we’re excited to open our platform to Coinme as we increasingly look to capture new growth by monetizing our network to new use-cases.”

Global cash on and off-ramps ensure access to bitcoin

The MoneyGram and Coinme integration will provide a fast and easy way for customers to purchase bitcoin with cash and withdraw bitcoin holdings in cash. It is specially designed for customers who may be interested in utilizing bitcoin for the first time. With less than 20,000 cryptocurrency kiosks in the world today, the MoneyGram and Coinme partnership will further expand access to bitcoin and potentially other digital currencies by creating thousands of new point-of-sale locations to buy and sell cryptocurrency.

“MoneyGram has spent more than 80 years building one of the world’s largest P2P payment networks,” said Neil Bergquist, Coinme CEO. “By integrating its global infrastructure with our licensed crypto exchange technology, we can enable the purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies across its system using cash. This is a major milestone for the bitcoin and cryptocurrency communities, and for the millions of people who will benefit from a trusted, easy and affordable onramp to digital currency.”

The service will be available at select MoneyGram locations starting in the U.S. in the coming weeks. Additional countries and cryptocurrencies will be made available shortly thereafter.

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