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Guaranty Trust Bank Completes Corporate Re-organisation, Rebrands to Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc

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GTCO Commemorates Listing on Nigerian Exchange - Investors King

Aiming to strengthen its long-term competitiveness and growth prospects, Guaranty Trust Bank plc, has completed its re-organisation to a Holding Company Structure. Under the terms of the re-organisation, a new operating company has been established. The corporate name of Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc (GTCO) will be used by the newly established operating company.

Kindly be informed that as part of the restructuring process, the Board of GTCO was constituted and the Board of Guaranty Trust Bank Limited (GTBank) was reconstituted following the retirements of the following Directors: (i) Mrs. Osaretin Demuren (Chairman); (ii) Mr. Adebayo Adeola (Non-Executive Director); (iii) Mr. Demola Odeyemi (Executive Director); and (iv) Mr. Bolaji Lawal (Executive Director).

GTCO is also pleased to announce its new Board of Directors as well as changes to the Board of its banking subsidiary, GTBank. All the appointments have been approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

GTCO’s Board will comprise Mr. Sola Oyinlola as Chairman, Mr. Segun Agbaje as the Group Chief Executive Officer, Mrs. Cathy Echeozo as Non-Executive Director, Mr. Suleiman Barau and Mrs. Helen Bouygues as Independent Non-Executive Directors and Mr. Adebanji Adeniyi as Executive Director.

GTBank Board will comprise Mr. Ibrahim Hassan as Chairman, Mrs. Miriam Olusanya as Managing Director, Mr. Olabode Agusto as Non-Executive Director, Ms. Imoni Akpofure and Mrs. Victoria Adefala as Independent Non-Executive Directors, Mr. Jide Okuntola as Deputy Managing Director and Mr. Haruna Musa as Executive Director.

Commenting on the completion of the Corporate Re-organisation, Mr. Segun Agbaje, the Group Chief Executive Officer of GTCO said: “We believe that a Holding Company Structure will allow us take advantage of new business opportunities in the emerging competitive landscape and str base. We are very excited to get started on the next phase of our incredible journey to driving Africa’s growth by making end-to-end financial services easily accessible to every African and African Businesses by leveraging Technology and Strategic Partnerships. As a bank, we were always looking to meet every customer need; with our corporate re-organisation, we will be able to do more to help our customers thrive in this new world of digital technologies and unprecedented possibilities”.

Mr. Agbaje further stated that, “Whilst we are evolving as an organization, we remain committed to our founding values which have endeared our brand to millions of people across Africa and beyond, and which continues to drive our financial success. As a Proudly African and Truly International brand, we will continue to live by these values-of excellence, hard work and integrity, even as we create faster, cheaper, safer and more diverse products for people and businesses of varied types and sizes.”

Prior to its corporate re-organisation to Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc has been at the forefront of delivering innovative banking products and services to customers and best-in-class Return-on-Equity to shareholders. It is widely regarded as the best managed financial institution in Nigeria and has over the past decade, embarked on a period of unparalleled growth, growing its customer base from less than 3 million customers in 2011 to over 24 million customers in 2020, and profit before tax from N45.5 billion at the end of the 2010 financial year to N238.1 billion at the end of the 2020 financial year.

Profile of the Board of Directors of GTCO

Mr. Hezekiah Oyinlola (Chairman

Mr. Hezekiah Oyinlola holds a Bachelor of Science degree (B.Sc) in Accounting (First Class Hons.) from University of Ghana, Legon (1979) and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Stanford University, United States of America (USA). He is a seasoned professional with over thirty (30) yearswork experience in the Oil and Gas industry, having worked with Schlumberger Group from 1984 to June 2016. He has at various times served in a management capacity, including being the first Nigerian Managing Director of Schlumberger Group in Nigeria and rose through the ranks to Vice President, Group Treasurer and Chairman Africa, Schlumberger Group, a position he held from 2011 until his retirement in 2016. 

Mr. Oyinlola is a member of the Advisory Board, Sustainability Accounting Standards Board; the Executive Committee, African Diaspora Health Initiative; the Board of Trustees, Nigerian American Multicultural Council; and President and Member of the Board of the Schlumberger Foundation. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Petroleum Studies, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. 

Mr. Oyinlola is an alumnus of several local and international training programs on Infrastructure and Energy Finance, Reservoir Engineering, Petroleum Fiscal Systems and Economics, Project Finance, International Tax Management, Crisis Management and Management, Banking, Finance, Trade and Investment at institutions such as the Oxford University Institute for Energy Studies, Institute for Management Development, (IMD), Switzerland. He joined the Board of GTBank in 2014

Mr. Segun Agbaje (Group Chief Executive Officer) 

Mr. Segun Agbaje is the Group Chief Executive Officer of GTCO, one of Africa’s leading banking groups with a client base of over 20 million customers and business outlays across ten (10) African Countries and the United Kingdom

Mr. Agbaje started his career in 1988 as an Auditor at Ernst & Young, USA. He subsequently joined GTBank as a pioneer staff in 1991 and rose through the ranks to become Executive Director in 2000 and Deputy Managing Director in 2002. In 2011, he was appointed Managing Director and CEO of GTBank, and under his leadership the Bank became one of Nigerias most profitable banks, maintaining impressive year-on-year growth in market share and profitability. 

Mr. Agbaje is widely regarded as one of Africas leading CEOs with a reputation for identifying capital opportunities and executing business deals. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and a Masters in Business Administration, both from the University of San Francisco, USA. He is also an alumnus of the Harvard Business School and has over 30 years of experience in investment, commercial and international banking. 

Passionate about innovation and embracing disruptive technologies, Mr. Agbaje is driving the transformation of GTCO by constantly pioneering groundbreaking ideas that offer customers more value beyond financial services. Under his leadership, the 

has promoted enterprise in the SME sector by empowering small businesses and creating Free Business Platforms such as the GTBank Food and Drink Fair and the GTBank Fashion Weekend

Mr. Agbaje also revolutionized consumer lending in Nigeria through GTBank’s offering of Quick Credit, which gives individuals and small businesses instant, real time access to loans at a low interest of 1.3 percent monthly. 

In recognition of his sterling leadership and consistent outstanding performance, Mr. Agbaje has been the recipient of several awards over the years, some of which include: the African Banker of the Year Award by the African Banker Magazine, the Banker of the Year, Africa by the World Finance Magazine and CEO of the Year at the Africa Investor Awards

Mr. Agbaje currently serves on the boards of GTBank (Ghana) Limited, GTBank (UK) Limited, GTBank (Kenya) Limited, and GTBank (Tanzania) Limited. He is also a Director on the MasterCard Advisory Board (Middle East and Africa), and was elected to the Board of Directors of PepsiCo Inc., USA as an Independent Director and a member of the companys audit committee in July 2020. 

Mrs. Catherine Echeozo (NonExecutive Director

Mrs. Catherine Echeozo started her 33-year banking career in 1984 with Chase Merchant Bank Nigeria and also worked with Ecobank Nigeria Plc. She then began her 24-year career with GTBank in 1993. She was appointed to the Board of GTBank as an Executive Director in March 2005, and Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Bank in 2011 and served in that capacity until her retirement in March 2017, Mrs. Echeozo also represented GTBank on the Board of Nigerian Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) from 2008 till March 201

After her retirement in 2017 from GTBank, Mrs. Echeozo was appointed to the Council of The Nigerian Stock Exchange as the Second Vice President and also served as an Independent Director of Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers Limited from 2017 2020. She presently manages Cathingens Empowerment Initiative, her social intervention & Investment entity and also serves in the following capacities

-Chairman, NGX Regulation Ltd, a subsidiary of the Nigerian Exchange Group External Member, Investment Committee CDC Group. -Member Board of Trustees First Cardiology Foundation. Member Finance Council. Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos. Member Board of Trustees ICAN University 

Mrs. Echeozo holds a first degree in Accountancy from the University of Nigeria, a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Maryland, University College, USA. She became a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria in the year 2000 and a Certified Information Systems Auditor in 2005 

Mr. Suleiman Barav, OON, FCIB, FNIM (Independent NonExecutive Director

Mr. Suleiman Barau holds post-graduate degree in Economics and Certificates in Management Research and Projects Planning. He is a seasoned banker and economist, His experience in the banking sector covered merchant, commercial and central banking

Mr. Barau was between 2007 and 2017 a two-term Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Prior to that, he was a Special Adviser to the CBN Governor between 2005 and 2007. Mr. Barau had been involved in significant reforms of the all services industry during these periods particularly on banking, payments and monetary policies. 

Mr. Barau has received executive education from most of the major global business schools

Mrs. Helen Lee Bouygues (Independent Non-Executive Director) 

Mrs. Helen Bouygues received her Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, from Princeton University in Political Science and a Masters of Business Administration from Harvard Business School. She started her career in 1995 at J.P. Morgan in the M&A group in New York and in Hong Kong. From 2000 until 2004, she worked at cations Inc. as Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer. She thereafter became a Partner at Alvarez & Marsal Paris, where she left to launch her own consulting firm specialised in corporate turnaround and transformations in 2010. In 2014, she joined McKinsey & Company in Paris where she was Partner responsible for the Recovery and Transformation Services division. Since June 2017, she has been an active board member for multiple companies including Burelle SA, CGG SA, Neoen SA, Latécoère SA and Steinhoff Europe AG (representing the first and second lien creditors)

Mr. Adebanji Adeniyi (Executive Director) 

Mr. Adebanji Adeniyi is an astute professional of over 24 years, he acquired consulting and auditing experience in Coopers & Lybrand 19961998, PricewaterhouseCoopers 19982000 & Arthur Andersen 20002001. During his stint at the Big 4, he garnered experiences within the Manufacturing, Oil and Gas and Financial Services Industry providing value adding financial statement audit, assurance & business advisory services. 

Mr. Adeniyi started Banking at Lead Bank in 2001, rose to Deputy Manager/Head, Internal Audit with responsibilities for Inspection &, Internal Control functions, Implemented Control tools amongst other projects at the Bank. In February 2006, he joined GTBank, rose to General Manager & Chief Financial Officer, having responsibilities for the activities within Financial Control, Strategy and Group Reporting Division. He has diverse knowledge and vast experience in planning, implementing, building and enhancing financial health of Organizations. Possesses strong analytical, General Management, Accounting, Financial Advisory & Control Skills

Mr. Adeniyi has worked on several projects with challenging objectives; GTBank Eurobonds issuance working with PwC, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and White & Case, led the finance team in converting 3years Local GAAP Financial Statement to IFRS FS in fulfilment of the listing requirement of $825m GDR on the London Stock Exchange and championed GTBank‘s full transition and embedding of IFRS & has presented GTBank at several Road shows (RS) and Conferences (CFS) both locally and Internationally (GTBank/JPMorgan RS, HSBC, EFG Hermes, Rencap, Standard Bank & Moody CFs. 

Mr. Adeniyi is an Alumnus of University of Ibadan, graduated with Doctor of Vet Medicine Degree in 1995, a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (FCA), bagged MBA in 1999 & HCIB in 2013. He has attended Local and International Trainings; Euromoney, Programme Certificate in Strategic Finance IMD Switzerland, McKinsey Executive Leadership Programmes South Africa, Michigan Ross, Cranefield School of Management & LBS SMP

Profile of the Board of Directors of GTBank: 

Mr. Ibrahim Hassan (Chairman

Mr. Ibrahim Hassan is a phenomenal leader, highly experienced petroleum geologist, economic analyst, serial entrepreneur, community leader and a philanthropist with over 27 years of professional experience in the Oil and Gas industry. Mr. Hassan holds an MSc. Degree in Oil and Gas Enterprise Management from the University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom (UK). He is the Founder/Executive Chairman of Summit Energy Limited, a foremost integrated energy contracting Company. Mr. Hassan is also an outstanding and experienced Corporate Governance Practitioner and Boardroom player. He is the Chairman of the Boards of Directors of Axis Petroleum Limited, Pathway Exploration and Production Limited and Rosemount Nigeria Limited. Mr. Hassan undertook extensive Executive level Business and Leadership Education in world-class institutions including Harvard Business School in Boston, USA, Columbia Business School USA, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Chicago, USA, Cranfield School of Management UK, London Business School, UK, Institute of Directors (loD) London and Institute for Management Development, Switzerland. He is a member of los London, loD Nigeria and other professional organizations Mr. Hassan is a philanthropist, with deep commitment towards youth and community empowerment. He holds the revered title of Sarkin Dawaki of the Mubi Emirate of Adamawa State. He joined the Board of GTBank in 2010

Mrs. Miriam Olusanya (Managing Director

Mrs. Miriam Olusanya has over 23 yearsbanking experience that cuts across Transaction Services, Asset and Liability Management, Financial Markets, Investment Banking and Investor Relations. 

Mrs. Olusanya holds a Bachelor of Pharmacy (B. Pharm) degree from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria and a Master of Business Administration (Finance and Accounting) from the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom. Mrs. Olusanya has also attended several executive management and banking speci developmental programs in leading educational institutions around the world. 

Mrs. Olusanya serves as a Non-Executive Director on the Board of Guaranty Trust Bank (Gambia) Limited. She is also a member of the Financial Markets Sub Committee of the BankersCommittee, the primary interactive policy platform made up of the Central Bank of Nigeria and banks. 

Mrs. Olusanya was the Group Treasurer and Head, Wholesale Banking Division, responsible for balance sheet and financial markets activities of the Bank and its African subsidiaries, Corporate Finance as well as Investor Relations

Mrs. Olusanya joined GTBank as an Executive Trainee and rose through the ranks until her appointment as Executive Director in 2018, a position she held until her appointment as Managing Director. 

Mr. Olabode Agusto (NonExecutive Director

Mr. Olabode Agusto obtained his Bachelors degree in Accounting from the University of Lagos in 1977. Mr. Agusto became an Associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria in 1981 and a Fellow of the same association in 1991. He has over 40 years’ work experience in various organizations including UTC Motors Limited, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Nigeria International Bank Limited (now Citibank Nigeria Limited). He is the founder of Agusto & Co, Limited, which is the first credit rating agency licensed by the Securities and Exchange Commission in Nigeria

In 2003, President Obasanjo appointed him as his DirectorGeneral/Adviser (Budget Matters) and a member of his Economic Team during his second term in office (2003-2007)

Mr. Agusto was a non-Executive Director of Shell Nigeria Closed Pension Fund from 2009 to 2013. He was also the ProChancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of Lagos State University from 20142015. Currently, he serves as a non executive director on the board of Agusto & Co. Limited and Grand Cereals Limited (a subsidiary of UAC of Nigeria plc)

Mr. Agusto is a recipient of the national honour of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic. He joined the Board of GTBank in 2010. 

Ms. Imoni Akpofure (Independent NonExecutive Director) 

Ms. Imoni Akpofure is an experienced finance and sustainability professional with over 30 yearsof developed and developing country experience. Ms. Akpofure is a generalist with wide industry and geographic coverage and has a deep understanding of Sub-Saharan Africa

Ms. Akpofure began her career as a civil & environmental engineer with Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick (now part of URS Corporation) in the UK, becoming a Chartered Civil Engineer in 1993. Following an MBA, Ms. Akpofure joined the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, and worked there from 1995 until her departure in 2013 as Director Western Europe. Between 20062013, Ms. Akpofure was also a Faculty Member of the Business and Sustainability Programme under the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership. From 2014-2016, Ms. Akpofure was one of 2 Regional Directors for Africa for CDC Group Plc, the UK Governments development finance institution. From 2016-2020 M$. Akpofure was a Senior Associate with KINA Advisory Ltd, a socioeconomic advisory firm. 

Ms. Akpofure holds an MBA from INSEAD, France, an MSc in Environmental Engineering from Newcastle University, UK, and a BEng in Civil Engineering from Imperial College, London. 

Ms. Akpofure is currently a NonExecutive director on the Board of Africa50, a Morocco-based pan-African infrastructure fund; and a Trustee on the Boards of the Engineers in Business Fellowship, UK, the Gamaliel & Susan Onosode Foundation (GAMSU), Nigeria and Technoserve Inc, USA. She also serves on the Investment Committees of Africa50 and the Fund for Agricultural Finance in Nigeria (FAFIN). She joined the Board of GTBank in 2015

Mrs. Victoria Adefala (Independent Non-Executive Director

Mrs. Victoria Adefala holds a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) degree (1987) from the University of Lagos, Nigeria and a Master’s degree in International Law (LL.M) from University of Houston Bates Law School, Houston, Texas. She was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1988. Mrs. Adefala is a seasoned professional with over thirtythree (33) yearswork experience in diverse industries including Manufacturing, Finance and Transportation as well as the Legal profession, having worked with the African Chamber of Commerce, Houston, Texas, Michelin Nigeria Limited and Alstom Nigeria. 

Mrs. Adefala served as the Country President and Managing Director of Alstom Nigeria up till 2016. Prior to working at Alstom, she was an Executive Director at Michelin Nigeria Limited, and sits on the Board of both local and international companies. She is the Managing Partner of WHITGIFT Law Firm. She joined the Board of GTBank in 2017

Mr. Jide Okuntola – (Deputy Managing Director) 

Mr. Jide Okuntolas banking and financial service experience spans across Transaction Services, Risk Management, Treasury, Financial Control, Oil and Gas as well as Fintech, by over the years actively interfacing and or assuming leadership roles in some of these business segments

With over a decade experience in originating, advising, structuring and executing transactions inexcess of $13 Billion in Oil and Gas Financing, he was responsible for managing the Bank’s Oil and Gas portfolio covering the Upstream, Midstream and Downstream subsectors of the Oil and Gas industry

Mr. Okuntola holds a Bachelor of Economics degree from the Lagos State University and a Master of Business Administration (Petroleum and Energy Economics) from the European-American University. He has attended several executive management and banking specific programs in leading educational institutions. 

Mr. Okuntola joined GTBank as an Executive Trainee and rose through the ranks to become an Executive Director in 2018, a position he held until his appointment as Deputy Managing Director. 

Mr. Haruna Musa – (Executive Director

Mr. Haruna Musa holds a Masters degree in Finance and Management (2009) from Cranfield University, United Kingdom, Masters in Business Administration (1998) from university, Kano and Bachelor of Agriculture degree (1991) from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He has worked previously with United Bank for Africa Plc (1997 – 1998), FSB International Bank (1998 2001), before joining GTBank in 2001. 

Mr. Musa has over twenty-three (23) yearsexperience, out of which 19 years was spent in various aspects of banking including banking operations, corporate banking, Public Sector, Retail & SME BO and risk management. He joined the Bank in 2001 and rose through the ranks to become an Assistant General Manager and Group Head Public Sector, North East Division in 2006. Prior to his appointment as Executive Director, Mr. Musa was the General Manager in charge of the North East Division. He joined the Board in 2015

 

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Banking Sector

FCMB Group Posts 22.1 Percent Decline in Profit in H1 2021

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FCMB - Investors King

FCMB Group Plc, a leading financial institution in Nigeria, recorded a 22.1 percent decline in profit after tax in the first half (H1) of 2021 despite zero COVID-19 restrictions.

The lender gross earnings dipped by 4.02 percent from N98.179 billion achieved in the first half of 2020 to N94.228 billion in the period under review, the bank disclosed in its unaudited financial statements seen by Investors King.

Net interest income also moderated by 5.25 percent from N45.379 billion reported in H1 2020 to N42.998 billion in H1 2021. While net fee and commission income increased to N12.934 billion in the period under review, representing an increase of 33.51 percent from N9.688 billion achieved in the same period of 2020.

Net trading income drop from N3.925 billion in H1 2020 to N2.639 billion in H1 2021, this represents a decline of 32.78 percent.

Other revenue sheds 39.7 percent from N7.555 billion in H1 2020 to N4.552 billion in H1 2021. Profit before minimum tax and income tax decreased by 24.2 percent to N8.911 billion in H1 2021, down from N11.071 billion recorded in H1 2020.

The bank paid N450 million as minimum tax and income tax of N903.797 million to push profit after tax down by 22.1 percent from N9.701 billion in H1 2020 to N7.557 billion in H1 2021.

The lender realised N974.744 million from foreign currency translation differences for foreign operations. This brings the total comprehensive income for the period N8.545 billion.

Earnings per share dipped from N0.49 H1 2020 to N0.38 in H1 2021.

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Banking Sector

Ecobank Grows Profit After Tax by 29 Percent to N62.6 Billion in H1 2021

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Ecobank - Investors King

Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, a leading lender in Nigeria and across Africa, grew gross earnings by 13 percent to N442.9 billion in the first six months ended June 30, 2021.

The bank disclosed in its unaudited financial statements released through the Nigerian Exchange Limited and seen by Investors King on Monday.

Revenue expanded by 15 percent to N334.9 billion in the period under review while operating profit before impairment charges rose by 33 percent to N138.3 billion.

The bank grew profit before tax to N85.3 billion in the first half of 2021, up by 33 percent when compared to N64.133 billion recorded in the same period of 2020.

Profit after tax increased by 29 percent to N62.6 billion, up from N48.535 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2020. Total assets expanded by 6 percent to N11.022 trillion with loans and advances rising by 7 percent to N7.861 trillion.

However, total equity was down by 1 percent to N803.2 billion.

Speaking on the bank’s performance, Ade Ayeyemi, Ecobank Group CEO, said: “We saw continued and sustained resilience in our performance, which is indicative of the success of our ‘execution momentum’ drive. As a result, we generated a return on tangible equity of 16.1% versus 15.2% a year ago and increased diluted EPS and tangible book value per share by 19% and 6%, respectively. In addition, profit before tax increased 23% to $210 million.”

“Group revenues rose 7% to $825 million, despite the challenging operating environment with the third wave of coronavirus infections threatening economic recovery. Our diversified pan-African business model continued to rise to the challenge. Revenues grew 13% and 6% in our Commercial and Consumer businesses, while our focus on growing the trade business led to increased trade assets.

The slowly increasing business and spend activity drove a 20% rise in our Payments business’s revenue to $90 million. Deposits growth was strong, with total deposits now over $19 billion, an increase of $1.0 billion in the second quarter and $2.4 billion in a year, driven by our omnichannel strategy. Though loan growth remained
flat, we are focused on providing support to MSMEs for growth,” Ayeyemi added.

“I am proud of the team’s hard work in driving efficiency, which continues to reflect in our cost-to-income ratio of 58.7% ahead of guidance and progressing well toward our medium-term goal of approximately 55%. In addition, credit quality continued to be exceptionally strong. As a result, our NPL ratio of 7.4% is a substantial improvement from the prior year’s 9.8%, as we also build reserves to insulate the balance sheet with an NPL coverage ratio of 86.7% and pushing towards our nearterm target of 90%,” Ayeyemi continued.

“We successfully raised $350 million Tier 2 Sustainability Notes in June, the first-ever by a financial institution in sub-Saharan Africa and first to have a Basel III-compliant 10-year non-call 5 structure outside South Africa in 144A/RegS format. The Bond was 3.6 times oversubscribed, demonstrating strong confidence in the Ecobank Group and our commitment to the sustainability of our communities and their social needs. I am deeply grateful to all stakeholders and must thank our clients for continuing to put their trust in Ecobank for their diverse banking needs.” Ayeyemi concluded.

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Banking Sector

Vietnamese Prime Minister Moves on CBDC Amid Questions on Regional Nature of e-Yuan

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Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh

This month, it was reported that Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh asked, in Prime Minister’s Decision No 942/QD-TTg, the State Bank of Vietnam to study and execute a pilot implementation of a central bank digital currency before the end of 2023. Currently, cryptocurrencies are not legally recognized as an asset in the country, nor do any crypto exchanges hold licenses from the central bank. Last year, the country set up a group to study digital assets, with a purview that extended to potentially proposing regulatory mechanisms.

“Vietnam is a country that has had its eye on blockchain, even though they haven’t made many steps towards mainstreaming cryptocurrencies. It is a country that is interested in technology and riding a potential economic wave brought upon by new innovation, from blockchain to AI and VR. But, what’s notable here is that this decision was pushed forward very near the time that many pundits began to ask whether the Chinese e-Yuan would become a digital currency which transcended China and became something of a regional powerhouse as an asset,” said Richard Gardner, CEO of Modulus, a US-based developer of ultra-high-performance trading and surveillance technology that powers global equities, derivatives, and digital asset exchanges.

“I think that’s important. Many countries are looking at what’s happening in China, then taking a look at their own place in the CBDC rat race, and they’re making decisions, I think, which moves up their timetable. This isn’t an innovation where you want to be last to the party. Doing so, in fact, could have ripple effects across a country’s monetary policy,” noted Gardner.

“Digital money is an inevitable trend,” said Huynh Phuoc Nghia, Deputy Director of the Institute of Innovation under the University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City. Some believe that moving quickly to develop a CBDC could give countries like Vietnam greater influence in the global financial system.

“I think it’s too soon to say what kind of ripple effects this development will have. It’s worth noting that Vietnam is in the very early stages. This isn’t a case where they’re ready to begin a pilot test in the short-term. Vietnam isn’t Ghana. But, forging ahead now can only be a positive. It’s better to move forward than continue to wait. Those countries that continue to take a wait-and-see approach are going to find themselves in last place. This is a race you don’t want to finish last. It very well could be the 21st century equivalent to the Race to Space,” opined Gardner.

Modulus is known throughout the financial technology segment as a leader in the development of ultra-high frequency trading systems and blockchain technologies. Over the past twenty years, the company has built technology for the world’s most notable exchanges, with a client list which includes NASA, NASDAQ, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Barclays, Siemens, Shell, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Cornell University, and the University of Chicago.

“Vietnam is so close in proximity to China, and China is so far ahead in the development of their own CBDC, it was likely the push that they needed to move on this. Earlier this year, some pundits wondered if the e-Yuan would replace the dollar. That’s a premature discussion to have. But, if successfully rolled out, could it have a real regional impact? Absolutely,” Gardner offered.

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