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Banking Sector

CBN Issues Directive For Open Banking to Improve Financial Services

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Central Bank

In an effort to stimulate innovation and widen the range of financial products and services available to banks’ customers, the apex regulatory bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has established the legal framework for Open Banking in Nigeria.

This was revealed in a circular titled ‘Operational guidelines for open banking in Nigeria’ which was obtained by Investors King.

The Regulatory Framework for Open Banking in Nigeria, according to the CBN, establishes standards for data sharing across the banking and payments systems in order to stimulate innovation and expand the range of financial products and services available to bank customers.

According to the CBN, the financial sector data guideline would allow clients to access innovative financial products and services.

The Apex bank said: “Open banking recognises the ownership and control of data by customers of financial and non-financial services, and their right to grant authorisations to service providers to access innovative financial products and services. This is anticipated to drive competition and improve access to banking and payments services”.

The CBN also added that participants in open banking shall adhere strictly to security standards when accessing and storing data, and shall be subject to minimum privacy standards, operational standards, risk management standards and customer experience standards as prescribed by the Bank.

According to the CBN, any organization with customer data that may be transferred with other businesses in order to deliver innovative financial services within Nigeria is eligible to participate in the Open Banking ecosystem.

Open banking is a banking practice in which banks and non-bank financial organizations provide third-party financial service providers open access to customer banking, transaction, and other financial data via application programming interfaces (APIs).

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Banking Sector

FirstBank Launches Single-Digit Loan for Women-Owned Businesses, Reinforces its Role in Strengthening Gender Inclusion in Nigeria

First Bank of Nigeria Limited, has announced the launch of the FirstGem fund (FirstGem loan); a single-digit loan scheme, exclusively designed to put women at an advantage in contributing to the socio-economic development of the country.

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FirstBank Headquarter - Investors King

In furtherance of its role in promoting female entrepreneurship across the country, Nigeria’s premier banking institution and leading financial inclusion services provider, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, has announced the launch of the FirstGem fund (FirstGem loan); a single-digit loan scheme, exclusively designed to put women at an advantage in contributing to the socio-economic development of the country.

The FirstGem loan scheme is designed for female-owned or partnered SMEs  in the following sectors  Food/Beverage processing & Packaging, Beauty and cosmetics, Confectionaries, Catering & Restaurants, Transportation (Logistics) and Agric/Agro-Allied (retail value chain). With an interest rate of 9% per annum, FirstGem loan is a collateral-free loan that is available to the bank’s existing and prospective female customers. Based on eligibility, customers can access loans from N500,000.00 to N3,000,000.00.

To access the loan, Female owned or partnered SMEs can visit the Bank’s website – https://www.firstbanknigeria.com/personal/loans/more-financing-options/firstgem-funds/ – to download and fill out the Retail Loan Application Form. The completely filled form should be submitted to the nearest FirstBank branch with accompanying documents.

Speaking on the loan Folake Ani-Mumuney, Group Head, First Bank of Nigeria Limited said, “we are delighted with the role our FirstGem product plays in creating an avenue to enlarge the business activities and endeavours of female entrepreneurs across the country. Our FirstGem value proposition offers real solutions to constraints encountered by female entrepreneurs and working professionals, as it exposes women to opportunities for the advancement of their business. We implore every female business-minded individual to take advantage of the FirstGem loan as it puts them at an advantage to contribute their quota to the national economy.”

Launched in 2016, FirstGem has been impactful in driving financial inclusion, influencing women’s empowerment through gender-advancement programmes like savings culture, financial literacy, wealth  management and building an investment portfolio. FirstGem is  designed specifically to meet the needs of the female gender, aged 18 years and above.

FirstGem  is targeted at a broad spectrum of women, working professionals, entrepreneurs or market women through an array of benefits such as free business advisory services, access to finance, specialized training on business development initiatives (virtual  and physicalevents),  regular insights on business / investment  opportunities. and mouth-watering discounts at partner merchant outlets (spas, salons, grocery stores) offering  lifestyle products and services.

Recently, FirstBank announced its partnership with CDC Group, the UK Government’s development finance organisation to economically empower women-owned and led businesses as well as local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria. The facility, which is in the sum of US$100 million will have a minimum of 30% allocated in the form of credit lines to women entrepreneurs. 

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Banking Sector

CBN Sets January 2023 Deadline for Financial Institutions to Strengthen Their Cyber Defenses

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Wednesday released the Risk-Based Cybersecurity Framework and Guidelines for Other Financial Institutions (OFIs), following the recent increase in the number and sophistication of cybersecurity threats against financial institutions.

The central bank has set January 1, 2023, as the effective date for full compliance with the provisions of the guidelines.

The bank said the directive became mandatory for institutions to strengthen their cyber defenses if they were to remain safe and sound.

The circular dated June 29, 2022, and signed by Nkiru Asiegbu, Director of OFIs Department, was addressed to all OFIs under the regulation of the banking sector regulator.

The apex bank added that the guidelines represented the minimum requirements to be put in place by all OFIs.

The regulator stressed that the safety and soundness of OFIs required that they operate in a safe and secure environment, hence the platform on which information is processed and transmitted should be managed in a way that ensures confidentially, integrity and availability of information as well as the avoidance of financial loss and reputation risks among others.

The CBN noted that considering the reliance of financial institutions on information and communications technology (ICT) to operate their business and the rising incidences of cyber threats and attacks targeted at financial institutions, it became necessary to implement cybersecurity measures to mitigate against those risks.

The bank specifically noted that threats including ransomware, targeted phishing attacks and Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) had become prevalent, demanding that financial institutions boost cyber resilience as well as take proactive steps to secure their critical information assets to ensure their safety and soundness.

The objective of the guidelines is to among other things create a safer and more secure cyber environment that supports information system security and promotes stability of the OFI sub-sector.

It also seeks to promote and maintain public trust and confidence in the sub-sector as well as contribute towards the prevention and combating of cybercrime in the OFI sub-sector.

Essentially, the framework provides a risk-based approach to managing cybersecurity risk and consists of six parts including Cybersecurity Governance, and Oversight, Cybersecurity Risk Management System, Cyber Resilience Assessment, Cybersecurity Operational Resilience, Cyber-Threat Intelligence and Metrics, Monitoring and Reporting.

The document also explained the roles of the board of directors in relation to cybersecurity as well as the appointment and responsibilities of the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) among others.

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Banking Sector

Fitch Upgrades Fidelity Bank’s Issuer Default Rating from ‘B-‘ to ‘B’

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Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, MDCEO of Fidelity Bank Plc

Fitch Ratings has upgraded Fidelity Bank Plc’s long-term issuer default rating (IDR) from ‘B-‘ to ‘B’, reflecting the bank’s increased creditworthiness. The rating agency also upgraded Fidelity’s National Long-Term Rating to ‘A(nga)’ from ‘BBB+(nga)’.

According to the global rating agency, the upgrade is a result of the Bank’s improving business profile and resilient financial metrics. The agency added that the improved rating reflected the bank’s increased creditworthiness relative to other issuers in Nigeria, emphasizing that, “Fidelity’s Long- and Short-Term IDRs are driven by its standalone creditworthiness, as expressed by its Viability Rating (VR) of ‘b’ ”.

The agency further stated that the VR reflects healthy asset quality, good business profile and reasonable capitalisation and liquidity. These are balanced against high sensitivity to Nigeria’s challenging operating environment as well as higher credit concentration as a percentage of equity and weaker profitability than larger domestic-rated peers.

Commenting on the upgraded rating, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, Managing Director/CEO, Fidelity Bank Plc, stated, “Receiving this upgrade at a time when the global economy is faced with a myriad of challenges, speaks to the strength of our business model, the efficacy of our risk management culture and the commitment of our staff towards creating sustainable value for all stakeholders.  As a bank, we will continue to execute our growth strategy in a prudent manner that allows us to take advantage of emerging opportunities in our various markets”.

Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged commercial bank operating in Nigeria with over 6.5 million customers serviced across its 250 business offices and digital banking channels. The bank was recently recognized as the Best SME Bank Nigeria 2022 by the Global Banking & Finance Awards. The bank has also won awards for the “Fastest Growing Bank” and “MSME & Entrepreneurship Financing Bank of the Year” at the 2021 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards.

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