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Banking Sector

Australia Welcomes 6 World-Leading Crypto Reforms

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Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)

The Australian government is considering the launch of a Central bank Digital Currency (CBDC), and has supported several forward-facing regulatory cryptocurrency proposals as part of an all new “payments and crypto reform plan.”

The government’s Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg stated that the reforms will give Australia a seat among some leading countries across the globe.

This crypto reform plan is set to be the largest reshuffle of the Australian payments system since as far back as the 1990s, as part of the crypto-related preparations will be set by the innovative proposals brought forward by an Australian Senate Committee back in September.

According to the Australian Financial Review, the government looks to be backing six out of nine crypto reforms proposed by the Senate Committee, as well as a licensing regime for cryptocurrency exchanges, laws to oversee decentralised autonomous organisations and an access regime for newer payment platforms.

Two proposals which are related to taxes and financial compliance have been forwarded to their respective government agencies for consideration, while the government has knocked back a new proposal related to discounts on tax on renewable energy Bitcoin mining.

Frydenberg gave out the government’s plans for regulating crypto, taxation as well as CBDCs in a speech delivered on Wednesday at rhe Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (AICC). He stated that embracing the new developments would provide Australia a huge opportunity to capitalise on the recent convergence between technology and finance.

Speaking on CBDCs, a senior government source mentioned that a retail scale RBA (Reserve Bank of Australia) supported Bitcoin or cryptocurrency is being considered at the moment, and will be a vital part of the governmen’s regulatory reform on digital payments.

During his speech at AICC, Frydenberg was bullish on the crypto asset reform. He said that for businesses, the reforms would address the ambiguity that is possible concerning the regulatory and tax treatment of crypto assets and new payments.

Banking Sector

FBN Holdings Reports 49% Increase in Profit in H1 2022

FBN Holdings Plc has reported a 48.9% increase in profit after tax for the first half (H1) of 2022.

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Nnamdi Okonkwo

FBN Holdings Plc, the parent company of FirstBank of Nigeria Limited, has reported a 48.9% increase in profit after tax for the first half (H1) of 2022.

The financial services provider announced gross earnings of N359.2 billion for the period under review, an increase of 22.4% when compared to the N293.4 billion recorded in the first half of 2021.

Interest income jumped 40.6% from N161 billion achieved in H1 2021 to N226.4 billion. While the Group’s net interest income rose a whopping 47.3% to N152.9 billion, up from N103.8 billion in H1 2021.

Non-interest income remained largely unchanged at N120.6 billion, a 0.2% decline from N120.9 billion posted in the corresponding period of 2021.

FBN Holdings’ operating income expanded by 21.7% to N273.5 billion from N224.7 billion in H1 2021. The lender’s impairment charges improved by 18.7% to N21.7 billion, down from N26.7 billion in the same period of 2021.

As expected, operating expenses inched higher to N186 billion from N152.6 billion recorded in H1 2021. Profit before tax stood at N65.7 billion a 45.3% increase from N45.2 billion filed in H1 2021.

The total profit realised for the period grew by 48.6% from N38.1 billion in H1 2021 to N56.5 billion in H1 2022.

Earnings per share also rose 48% to N1.55 from N1.05.

Speaking on the group performance, Nnamdi Okonkwo, the Group Managing Director said “FBNHoldings continues to demonstrate resilient performance despite the challenging operating environment with an impressive improvement in revenue and profitability. For the half year 2022, gross earnings and profit before tax grew by 22% y-o-y and 45% y-o-y to N359.2 billion and N65.7 billion respectively. Furthermore, we continue to see good progress across our performance metrics, which remain in line with our focus on driving sustainable growth.

“The Group remains committed in its transformation drive, which has resulted in stronger balance sheet and better asset quality with non-performing loans closing at 5.4% at H1 2022. Similarly, risk management capability remains robust across the Group supporting the drive for enhanced earnings for sustainable capital accretion.

“During the period, cost to income ratio remained flat y-o-y despite the inflationary and currency pressure, as we continue to focus on optimising overall efficiency.

“Our strategic intent remains unchanged in optimising opportunities that drive growth in revenue, profitability, capital accretion and overall operational efficiency that delivers sustainable value to our stakeholders.”

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Banking Sector

FirstBank’s Firstmonie Agents Processed Over N22 Trillion in Transaction Value

FirstMonie Agents have processed over N22 trillion in combined transaction value.

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FirstBank New Website - Investors King

Nigeria’s leading financial services provider, FirstBank of Nigeria Limited on Thursday said its fast-growing agent banking network, Firstmonie Agents, has collectively processed over N22 trillion in transaction value.

The lender, which announced a profit after tax of N53.3 billion in the first half of the year, said Firstmonie Agents processed transaction volume in excess of 1 billion across all its 180,000 agents that operate in 772 local governments.

In an effort to bring financial services to the unbanked and underbanked segment of the Nigerian society, Firstmonie Agents was the first banking network to operate in all the local government areas, except the two local governments enmeshed in insecurity.

Since its launch, FirstMonie Agent Banking has been providing convenient banking services to Nigerians previously cut off from the financial system, playing a pivotal role in deepening financial inclusion and empowering existing businesses within the communities to deliver these services.

Popularly called ‘Human ATM’, Firstmonie Agents are empowered to reduce the reliance on over-the-counter transactions while providing convenient personalized services. Amongst the services carried out by the Agents include; Account Opening, Cash Deposit, Airtime Purchase, Bills Payment, Withdrawals and Money Transfer.

Through various empowerment and reward schemes implemented to put its Firstmonie Agents at an advantage to economically impact their immediate communities whilst importantly having their business sustained, the Bank’s Agent Banking scheme has remained a toast to Nigerians, irrespective of where they are in the country. Amongst these schemes is the Agent Credit – launched in 2020 – which has had the Bank provide credit facilities to the tune of 238 billion naira to its teeming Firstmonie Agents.

Commenting on the milestone, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, CEO, FirstBank said “since the relaunch of our Agent Banking scheme in 2018, our Firstmonie Agents have played a vital role in bridging the financial inclusion gap in the country, as many more people have been able to undertake various financial and business transactions in cost-effective ways, thereby saving a lot of time and money in travelling over long distances for basic banking services.“

“We are delighted by the giant strides of our Firstmonie Agents in promoting financial inclusion and commend them for their efforts in taking banking to the doorsteps of Nigerians – irrespective of where they are – in a very effective way”, he concluded.

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Banking Sector

Unity Bank Grows Profit After Tax by 23% to N1.6 Billion

Retail lender, Unity Bank Plc has posted gross earnings of N27.6 billion for its 2022 half-year results, representing a growth of 17% year-on-year.

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Unity bank - Investors King

Retail lender, Unity Bank Plc has posted gross earnings of N27.6 billion for its 2022 half-year results, representing a growth of 17% year-on-year.

In its unaudited half-year financials submitted to the Nigeria Exchange Group Limited, the Bank also made significant improvements across key performance indicators.

The Bank grew Profit Before Tax (PBT) by 23% which rose to N1.8 billion from N1.5 billion in the corresponding period of 2021. Profit After Tax (PAT) for the period equally increased by 23% to close at N1.6 billion from N1.382 billion in H1’21.

The key highlights of the financial statements showed growth in interest and similar income, which rose 18% to N23.938 billion from N20.273 billion in the corresponding period of 2021, an indication of sustained growth in the loan book as well as improved earnings from the lender’s robust digital channels, arising from sustained investment in its digital payment infrastructure.

Similarly, the lender posted sustained asset growth as total assets moved up by 7% to N574.3 billion from N538.9 billion in 2021.

Other key highlights of the financial statement include a 12% growth in deposits, which rose to N359.5 billion from N322.3 billion in December 2021, a clear indication of the positive trend of the Bank’s innovative retail products targeting several segments of the retail market as well as enhanced customer acquisition strategies for emerging products rolled out to the market during the period under review.

In the same vain, the lender recorded an increase on its loan books to N303.632 billion from N269.270 billion in 2021, representing a 13% growth.

Commenting on the financial statements, the Managing Director/CEO of Unity Bank Plc, Mrs Tomi Somefun welcomed the H1’22 results. She noted that while the key performance indicators continue on an upward trajectory; PBT (23% YoY), Total Assets (7% YoY) and gross earnings (17% YoY); the outlook for our financial position has now moderated significantly looking at other fees and income lines which performance was hitherto characterised by volatilities in the operating environment.

“As the Bank aims to further grow all indices to double-digit regions in the coming years, one reassuring take from the financial position lies in the market confidence, as well as steadily growing retail and SME franchise arising from the development of products that resonate with different markets segments, which will enable the Bank to continue to operate and successfully navigate the tough operating environment, amid rising economic headwinds,” Mrs Somefun stated.

The Unity Bank boss also stated that having invested massively in technology to drive a major revamp in our digital Banking products and channels including the Unifi Mobile App, our USSD, *7799#, internet banking, etc., the major focus is to drive increased optimisation which will enable the Bank to provide electronic convenience in the way we support our teaming customers and market segments and more often change the way they transact business.

In the view of analysts, the key performance indicators showed that the market sentiments are responding positively to the strategies of the lender’s management to accelerate the growth momentum designed for the Bank.

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