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Polaris Bank Nigeria Launches VULTe; a New Digital Bank

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VULTe - Investors King

Nigeria’s leading retail Bank Polaris has launched a digital bank called VULTe.

Speaking at the well-attended unveiling ceremony which held in Eko Hotel, Lagos the Chairman of the Bank, M.K Ahmad (OON) disclosed that the corporate goal of Polaris is to offer customers and non-customers of the Bank, a 24-hour seamless service using VULTe.

In his words, “This is a milestone in our pursuit of a strong and digitally-led retail brand. When we started the Polaris journey almost three years ago, we were very clear on the type of Bank we must build and the direction we must go. This was largely informed by the fast pace of change in financial service provisioning and the apparent technology-defined outlook of our business.”

“We are therefore bringing VULTe to the market place today. And this is not another mobile App, but one with a world of difference, a mobile digital bank. This is your Bank in your hand, affording you total Control of your financial service needs. With VULTe, you serve yourself, the way you want to be served,” the Chairman explained.

In his address, the Acting Managing Director/CEO of the Bank, Mr. Innocent C. Ike said the newly-launched banking platform, is returning all powers to the customer as king. He noted that customers are now at liberty to enjoy unhindered, contactless and refreshing banking experience all at the tip of their fingers thanks to the newly launched VULTe app.

“With VULTe, we affirm our resolve to serve the customer better and make their banking experience, more pleasurable. Therefore, we will continue to launch an array of banking products to cater to the varying needs of our diverse customers.”

Explaining the premium value the Bank places on its customer with the VULTe, Ike said: “Ultimately, VULTe represents our bold declaration to hand over CONTROL of banking services to our customers and allow them to serve themselves as they would want to be served.

“As a Polaris Bank customer, you are at liberty to determine your banking experience since we have put the Bank in your hand 24/7. You now have total CONTROL to serve yourself; it’s no more customer service but customer self-service.

“Are you opening an account, setting limits on your account, verifying your identity documents, registering your biometrics, making inquiries, taking an instant loan? You are in total CONTROL – you do it at your time, at your convenience, and on your terms – you determine how delightful your banking experience will be”.

The highlight of the launching was the practical demonstration of the uniqueness of the VULTe application by the Bank’s Chief Digital Officer, (CDO) Mr. Bamidele Adeyinka to the excited guests.

According to him; “The Digital Banking Platform, VULTE, will change everything that happens in the ‘brick & mortar’ space (i.e. branches) to clicks and buttons.” Continuing, he stated, “VULTE comes in mobile (Android and iOS) and Web Applications and it allows customers with either of the options, to access banking services at the click of the button,” he added.

The CDO explained that all Bank customers in the country can take advantage of VULTe to carry out their banking transactions including account opening, bills payments, transfers, balance enquiry, airtime recharge and quick loans.

He further stated that on-boarded customers will be able to access PayDay Loan on both mobile and web digital platform where eligibility will be displayed to the customer within the VULTe application.

Also, on-boarded customers will be enabled to pay taxes and levies for different government parastatals in addition to several other benefits such as ability to perform intra-bank and inter-bank transfers.

“To onboard, customers with BVN will input their BVN and take a selfie (photo of their face) which will be compared automatically with the photo on their BVN profile (via Facial Recognition – an advanced cognitive and artificial intelligence facial recognition technology),” the CDO disclosed.

Meanwhile, the Bank also announced special reward packages for early users of the VULTe app. Reeling out giveaways and free gifts, Mr. Muhammed Abdullahi, Executive Director, Abuja and Northern Region of the Bank said: “For your loyalty and positive acceptance of VULTe and all other banking services offered by Polaris Bank, on behalf of the Board, Management and Staff, I’m happy to announce some mouthwatering offers to everyone following us to mark this occassion.

“Consequently, please note that the first 2000 persons who download VULTe from Appstore or PlayStore and make a transfers on the platform, stand to win a collection of beautiful mementos like;  Mugs, Michael Cable Charger, Key Rings, Pop Socket among other collection of gifts,” the ED said.

The launch event had in attendance representatives of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), key Financial Technology (FinTechs) industry players and strategic partners of Polaris Bank who all in their goodwill messages attested to the bank’s unwavering determination to ensuring quality customer satisfaction at all times.

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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Nigeria Sees 31% Increase in POS Fraud Amid Rising Terminal Adoption

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Moniepoint

The prevalence of fraud and forgery in Nigeria’s payment system has shown a significant shift in the first quarter of 2024, with Point-of-Sale (POS) transactions experiencing the highest increase in fraudulent activities.

According to the “Fraud and Forgeries Report in Nigerian Banks” for Q1 2024 by the Financial Institutions Training Centre (FITC), POS fraud cases surged by 31.12%.

In Q4 2023, there were 2,683 reported cases of fraud associated with POS terminals. However, this number escalated to 3,518 cases by Q1 2024.

POS fraud cases made up 30.67% of the total fraud cases (11,472) recorded in the quarter under review.

Financial Impact of POS Fraud

While there was a rise in fraud cases, the amount of money involved in POS fraud declined. In Q4 2023, the total amount involved in POS fraud was NGN604.91 million.

This amount decreased by 37.74% to NGN376.59 million by Q1 2024.

Also, the amount of money lost to POS fraud saw a significant decline, falling from NGN14.62 million by 68.34% to NGN4.63 million on a quarterly basis.

The decrease in financial losses may indicate improved detection and prevention measures, but the overall rise in fraud cases highlights the need for continued vigilance.

Adoption of POS Terminals

The rise in POS fraud cases is attributed to the widespread adoption of these terminals by merchants and consumers alike.

As a cash-driven Nigerian economy, the convenience and efficiency of POS transactions have made them a popular choice.

However, this widespread adoption has also made them a target for fraudsters seeking to exploit vulnerabilities in the system.

In Q1 2023, the number of registered POS terminals increased by 218,475, from 2,318,947 in January 2023 to 2,537,422 by March 2023.

By the same quarter in 2024, the number of registered POS terminals had increased by 289,154, from 3,441,287 in January 2024 to 3,730,441 by March 2024.

Overall, between the end of Q1 2023 and Q1 2024, Nigeria witnessed an additional 1,193,019 POS terminals, marking a 47.02% increase.

Despite this increase in the number of registered POS terminals, the first quarter of 2024 saw POS transaction volumes reach 314 million, which is a significant drop of 73.81 million, or 19.03%, from the 387.81 million transactions recorded in the first quarter of 2023.

Regulatory Measures and Industry Response

The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) recently stated that POS agents of major fintechs in Nigeria, including OPay, Palmpay, and Moniepoint, among others, must have registered their businesses by July 7, 2024.

However, it extended the deadline by 60 days, giving operators until September 5, 2024. The CAC said the registration is aimed at safeguarding the businesses of fintechs and customers, as well as strengthening the economy.

Meanwhile, the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria (AMMBAN) condemned the mandated registration, describing it as an attempt to tax more Nigerians to generate revenue for the government.

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PalmPay Issues July 7 Deadline for POS Operators to Submit CAC Certificates

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PalmPay

PalmPay has announced a firm deadline of July 7, 2024, for all Point of Sale (POS) operators using its platform to register with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) or submit their CAC certificates.

This mandate aims to ensure compliance with Section 863 (1) of the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020 and the 2013 Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) guidelines on Agent Banking.

In a statement released on Thursday, PalmPay emphasized the importance of adhering to these legal requirements.

“Following CAC’s directive for POS operators to register and submit their CAC details on or before July 7, 2024, PalmPay is encouraging its business users who have not yet complied with the directive to do so promptly,” the statement read.

This initiative comes in the wake of a two-month registration deadline issued by the Federal Government through the CAC, mandating POS companies to register their agents, merchants, and individuals.

The directive is part of broader efforts to bring regulatory compliance and transparency to Nigeria’s burgeoning fintech sector.

To facilitate the registration process, PalmPay has integrated the CAC registration portal into its Business App.

This integration allows operators to seamlessly register their businesses and submit the required documents, ensuring a smoother compliance process.

Umuteme Enakeno, Head of Marketing and Communication at PalmPay, reiterated the company’s support for the CAC directive.

“PalmPay fully supports the CAC’s directive. We provide 24/7 customer support and conduct weekly meetings to guide operators through the process,” Enakeno stated.

He also highlighted that operators can seek assistance through PalmPay’s customer support channels, including phone, email, or in-person visits to any of the 36 state offices across Nigeria.

PalmPay has urged all its business customers to submit or register their CAC details before the deadline.

“Register your business via the PalmPay Business App: Ensure that all necessary documents and information are provided accurately before submitting your application. Update your PalmPay account once you get the certificate to reflect your new corporate status,” Enakeno advised.

Failure to comply with the CAC registration requirement will result in the freezing of PalmPay accounts, the company warned.

This stringent measure underscores PalmPay’s commitment to aligning with national regulatory standards and fostering a compliant fintech ecosystem.

Meanwhile, the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria, representing POS operators, has indicated plans to challenge the mandatory CAC registration in court, questioning its legality and potential impact on their operations.

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Digital Payment Boom in Nigeria Driven by Sub-N10,000 Transactions

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Money Transfer - Investors King

Nigeria’s electronic payment landscape is undergoing a significant transformation, fueled by a surge in micro transactions, defined as transfers below N10,000.

This boom underscores the increasing adoption of digital channels in everyday life, according to a recent analysis by BusinessDay.

The prominence of these micro transactions gained momentum following the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s cashless policy initiative.

The policy, announced in October 2022 by then CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele, included a naira redesign to bolster monetary policy, promote digital alternatives like the eNaira, and enhance the currency’s integrity.

By January 2023, the scarcity of physical naira notes prompted many Nigerians to embrace digital payment channels.

Data from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) revealed that cashless transactions rose by 45.41% year-on-year to N39.58 trillion in January 2023.

This upward trend continued throughout the first quarter of 2023, with cashless transactions increasing by 44.84% to N126.73 trillion compared to the same period in 2022.

By the end of 2023, total cashless transactions had surged to over N600 trillion from N395.38 trillion in 2022, as more Nigerians adopted digital payment methods.

The trend persisted into 2024, with transactions growing by 88.09% to N237 trillion in the first quarter.

However, this substantial increase in e-payment transactions has not translated into higher government revenue through the Electronic Money Transfer Levy (EMTL).

In the first quarter of 2024, the government collected N66.35 billion from EMTL, the same amount as in the corresponding period of 2023.

This stagnation is primarily because most transactions were less than N10,000 and thus not subject to the tax.

The EMTL, introduced in the Finance Act 2020 as an amendment to the Stamp Duty Act, is a single, one-off charge on electronic receipts or transfers of money deposited in any bank or financial institution on any account for sums of N10,000 and above.

Despite higher e-payment volumes, the government’s expected increase in revenue has not materialized due to the prevalence of micro transactions.

“Payment methods have become easier, faster, and better, and people are using them for everyday things,” said Adedeji Olowe, founder of Lendsqr. “Everyone from small kiosks to supermarkets now accepts transfers. If I go downstairs where I live, I can buy something worth N1,000 and pay with transfers.”

This shift signifies a maturing payment space where real-time transfers are becoming more acceptable in an economy striving to reduce reliance on physical cash.

Africa had the highest real-time share of electronic payments in 2023 at 40%, with Nigeria leading the region, according to ACI Worldwide.

Experts in the payment space note that most transactions in the country are below N10,000.

“The range below N6,000 makes up about 45% of transfer transactions. Some in the range of N10,000 is around 25%,” an industry source commented.

“The boom in micro transactions began when the cashless policy was implemented. People started moving away from cards and focusing more on transfers as a means of payment,” said Nosa Oyegun, VP of product and innovation at Kuda.

This shift has led to the rise of new fintech companies like PalmPay, Opay, and Moniepoint, with point-of-sale withdrawals increasingly conducted via transfers rather than cards.

The micro transaction growth is also enhancing financial inclusion by drawing more individuals into the digital financial system.

“It is good for them because there is now more access to financial services,” an industry source noted.

While it may not result in higher tax revenue for the government, experts argue that the boom in micro transactions supports the government’s digital inclusion and economic growth plans.

“It is fostering a national policy… I don’t think it is lost revenue for the government because it is like the gold. I don’t think you can tax it,” an industry expert said.

The growth of micro transactions also reflects the general economic downturn, with Nigerians grappling with double-digit inflation.

“People are struggling today due to economic downturn. Incomes have been strained and most people go for things that are affordable, which are usually cheaper than N10,000,” said Ike Ibeabuchi, a macro economy analyst.

The Federal Government has outlined plans to generate N483.73 billion from EMTL over three years in the 2023-2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper.

However, the significant increase in micro transactions suggests a shift in Nigeria’s digital payment landscape, highlighting the role of small-scale transfers in driving the e-payment boom.

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