Ahead of the yuletide season, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial inclusion services provider, First Bank of Nigeria Limited had announced the expansion of its diaspora remittance network to ensure that customers and the public at large are at an advantage in receiving money from anywhere in the world, irrespective of where they are, across the globe. With the expansion, funds can be accessed from close to 200 countries. Courtesy of the Bank’s over 750 branch network, individuals in expectant of funds from abroad, remain at an edge in receiving that extra fund to add more glamour, buy that extra gift and generally celebrate the Christmas and New Year with a bold smile and in memorable ways.
FirstBank pioneered international money transfer services in Africa’s largest economy by partnering with Western Union International, the first-ever International Money Transfer Operator (IMTO) in Nigeria. This partnership ensured Nigerians evolved with global diaspora remittance practices, as the Bank introduced US Dollars Payout in 2002, an initiative that has now been adopted by many other financial institutions.
Keen on easing the challenges by many Nigerians to make instantaneous oversea payments and support their wards studying abroad with stipends, FirstBank once again reinvented itself and introduced an outbound service in 2014 spearheading an avenue to promote Person to Person (P2P) transactions such as feeding allowances to students abroad, support, payments, and do so just-in-Time on a global scale.
Since the Central Bank of Nigeria introduced the ‘CBN Naira 4 Dollar Scheme’ on March 8, 2021, FirstBank’s expanded network of International Money Transfer Operators’ include new entries like Wari, Smallworld, Sendwave, Flutherwave, Funtech, Thunes and Venture Garden Group with Western Union, MoneyGram, Ria, Transfast, and WorldRemit being amongst its already existing IMTOs. Interestingly, recent investigations revealed that efforts are underway by FirstBank to have more IMTOs onboarded to provide seamless service to its esteemed customers.
Speaking on the Bank’s expanded network of International Money Transfer Operator (IMTOs), Mr. Gbenga Shobo, the Bank’s Deputy Managing Director said, “at FirstBank, expanding our network of International Money Transfer Operators is in recognition of the significant roles diaspora remittances play in driving economic growth such as helping recipients meet basic needs, fund cash and non-cash investments, finance education, foster new businesses and debt servicing. We are excited about these partnerships, as it is essential to ensure our customers are at an advantage to receive money from their loved ones and business associates, anywhere they are, across the world.”
To put things in perspective, in 2020 alone, FirstBank processed diaspora remittance valued at N100 billion while in total, the bank served over one million customers across the nooks and crannies of Nigeria
It is important to mention that FirstBank also launched an Auto Creation of USD Account following changes in remittance policy to ensure diaspora remittances sent to recipients’ Naira accounts are automatically credited into their USD Accounts. At FirstBank, customers determine whether they want their USD as cash or directly into their accounts.
Over the years, FirstBank has received several awards and recognition for promoting and leading the forex remittance charge in Nigeria.
To mention a few, FirstBank won the “Fastest Growing Money Agent Award” in 2010; MoneyGram’s “Highest Receiving Agent in Nigeria and the Most Compliant Agent in West Africa”. In 2016, MoneyGram recognised the bank as the “1st Agent in West Africa & 2nd largest Agent in Africa to process transactions that generated a revenue of $10 million on the MoneyGram platform”.
85.51 Million Nigerian Bank Customers Face Withdrawal Freeze Over NIN, BVN Deadline
As the March 1 deadline looms, an estimated 85.51 million Nigerian bank customers are facing the possibility of frozen accounts due to their failure to link their National Identification Numbers (NINs) and/or Bank Verification Numbers (BVNs) to their accounts.
Recent findings reveal the potential scale of the impending banking crisis.
Data from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) indicates that Nigeria had approximately 146 million active individual bank customers as of December 2022.
However, by January 26, 2024, only 60.49 million BVNs were recorded on the NIBSS portal, leaving a significant portion unlinked.
Meanwhile, about 104 million NINs had been issued by December 2023, highlighting the disparity between NIN issuance and BVN linkage.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had earlier issued directives to banks, mandating them to restrict transactions on accounts lacking linked NINs and BVNs, with effect from March 1, 2024.
Any accounts found non-compliant risk being designated as ‘Post no Debit,’ rendering them unable to process further transactions.
Responding to the impending crisis, the Director-General of the National Identification Management Commission (NIMC), Abisoye Coker-Odusote, emphasized the need for the revalidation of Front-End Partners (FEPs) to ensure the integrity of the identity database.
She underscored the importance of NIN registration and urged collaboration with various stakeholders to expedite the process.
The Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Aminu Maida, reiterated the significance of linking NINs to SIM cards to enhance national security.
Telecom subscribers were urged to comply with the NIN-SIM linkage directive to avoid service disruptions.
Meanwhile, financial service providers like Opay have issued reminders of the impending restrictions, urging customers to comply with the linkage requirements.
Amidst concerns, some customers contemplate transferring funds to compliant accounts to avoid potential financial setbacks.
As the deadline approaches, stakeholders are intensifying efforts to mitigate the impact of the impending banking crisis on millions of Nigerians.
Central Bank of Nigeria Injects Over $300 Million to Stabilize Naira-Dollar Exchange Rate
In a bid to mitigate the continuous depreciation of the naira against the dollar, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has injected over $300 million into the foreign exchange market.
This move comes amidst concerns over the instability of the naira-dollar exchange rate, which has seen rates soar as high as N1850/$ in recent trading sessions.
The Association of Corporate Treasurers of Nigeria revealed the CBN’s intervention in an advisory memo to its members, highlighting the significant injections made over the past two weeks.
The memo underscores the urgency to address the steep decline in the value of the naira, which has posed challenges to businesses and individuals alike.
The CBN’s proactive measures signal a concerted effort to stabilize the forex market and restore confidence in the domestic currency.
The injection of funds aims to provide liquidity and alleviate pressure on the naira, which has experienced rapid depreciation in recent weeks.
Market analysts anticipate that the CBN’s intervention will help mitigate the volatility of the naira-dollar exchange rate, providing relief to businesses and consumers grappling with the economic uncertainties.
The move reflects the CBN’s commitment to maintaining stability in the forex market and fostering economic growth amidst challenging times.
FBN Holdings Surpasses GTCO, Zenith Bank to Become Nigeria’s Most Valuable Bank
FBN Holdings has emerged as Nigeria’s most valuable bank, surpassing Guaranty Trust Holding Company (GTCO) and Zenith Bank in terms of market capitalization.
At the close of trading on Monday, FBN Holdings achieved a market capitalization of N1.22 trillion, solidifying its position at the forefront of the banking sector.
The bank’s market cap is now higher than GTCO’s N1.16 trillion and Zenith Bank’s N1.11 trillion.
The surge in FBN Holdings’ market capitalization represents a 56.68% increase since Femi Otedola assumed the role of chairman on January 31st.
Otedola’s stewardship has been instrumental in driving FBN Holdings’ exponential growth.
Since he was appointed a non-executive director in August 2023 and subsequent ratification by shareholders, his leadership has been characterized by strategic decision-making and investor confidence.
Holdings’ shares have risen from N21.70 to N34 under his chairmanship, representing a significant boost for investors and shareholders.
The market’s positive response to Otedola’s leadership underscores the importance of effective governance and visionary leadership in driving financial performance and investor value.
Minority shareholders have expressed optimism about Otedola’s impact on dividend payments and capital appreciation, highlighting his track record of prioritizing shareholder interests in his previous roles.
FBN Holdings’ ascent to the top spot signals a new era of growth and stability for the bank, setting the stage for continued success in Nigeria’s dynamic financial landscape.
As the banking sector navigates evolving market conditions, FBN Holdings’ position at the pinnacle reflects its resilience and adaptability in driving sustainable value for stakeholders.
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