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Banking Sector

Buhari Expresses Confidence in Banking Institutions to Tackle Economic Challenges

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President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed his confidence in the West African Banking Association (WABA) to tackle economic challenges in the West African region.

The president expressed his trust while receiving a team from WABA, led by its President, Thierno Seydou Nourou Sy, at the State House in Abuja.

The president stated that the sub-region needs to come to an agreement on low access to financial services and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to him, the association, founded in 1981, brings together over 250 commercial banks and 15 institutions from across West Africa, and for many centuries, African countries have traded with one another without a formalized and structured system. He, however, noted that over time, global trade had become more complex and organized.

The president expressed optimism that the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area will mark a watershed moment in the way African countries do business.

“More importantly, we will turn the page in ensuring that we deepen and expand our industrial capabilities by making sure we export less of what we have been endowed with in the primary or raw form, and convert larger portions of these resources into finished materials.

“That will allow us to benefit from the revenue earned from the added value of exporting a finished product,” he said.

“Our ability to overcome the current phase of our development lies in our resolve to work jointly via our regional and sub-regional organizations where we can all reach a common understanding to fight against a common enemy.

“This is one of the reasons I am delighted with the strides ECOWAS has been making towards unanimity and forging alliances with a goal to resolve issues that confront the sub-region.

“I believe that this is also the approach that is being followed in the West African Bankers’ Association and the West African Monetary Union,’’ he added.

While commenting on WABA’s ongoing attempts to synchronize monetary and fiscal policy, the president pushed the organization to find common ground despite the particular macroeconomic challenges that each member-state faces.

He pledged that Nigeria would always be ready to support efforts that are geared towards improving the lives of all its citizens “as long as they do not place us at a disadvantage.”

The WABA President praised Nigeria’s leadership role in the African economy, while also praising President Buhari’s leadership.

“That’s why we are here for counsel and guidance for the financial sector in West Africa,” he said. He further urged the president to be an advocate for the greater inclusion of WABA in the ECOWAS structure.

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Banking Sector

Tinubu Aide Urges CBN Governor to Consider Political Impact of Economic Reforms

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Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)

Tunde Rahman, a senior aide to Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, has said Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Olayemi Cardoso must start factoring in the political effects of CBN’s decisions.

In his piece, titled “Navigating the Dilemma: Political Considerations in Economic Reforms,” sheds light on the complexities facing Cardoso as he seeks to stabilize Nigeria’s economy.

Rahman’s commentary shared through the Presidency’s official channels, acknowledged the challenges Cardoso confronts, particularly regarding the country’s currency devaluation and the contentious plan to relocate CBN staff from Abuja.

While Rahman refrained from direct criticism of Cardoso’s policies since his appointment by Tinubu, he underscored the necessity for the CBN governor to strike a delicate balance between economic imperatives and political sensitivities.

The upcoming meeting of the monetary policy committee presents a pivotal juncture for Cardoso, where discussions are expected to revolve around potential interest rate hikes to counter inflation and bolster the national currency.

Rahman’s insights underscore the high stakes involved in these decisions, especially given the public outcry over soaring living costs and inflation rates nearing three-decade highs.

Cardoso’s commitment to orthodox central banking, following a period marked by blurred monetary and fiscal policy lines, reflects his determination to navigate Nigeria’s economic landscape with prudence.

Nonetheless, Rahman’s op-ed serves as a reminder of the intricate interplay between economic reforms and political realities, urging Cardoso to exercise flexibility in policymaking, especially in matters with broader political implications.

As Nigeria grapples with economic challenges, the spotlight remains firmly fixed on Cardoso and the CBN’s response to the nation’s evolving financial landscape.

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Banking Sector

CBN’s New Foreign Currency Gateway Bank Raises Concerns Over Nigerian Banks’ Liquidity: Fitch Ratings

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Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s announcement of a new Foreign Currency Gateway Bank has stirred concerns over the liquidity of Nigerian banks, according to recent commentary from credit rating agency Fitch Ratings.

The proposed bank, designed to centralize correspondent banking activities, has prompted Fitch to issue cautionary remarks regarding its potential impact on the banking sector’s foreign currency (FC) liquidity.

Governor of the CBN, Dr. Olayemi Cardoso, unveiled plans for the Foreign Currency Gateway Bank to streamline and centralize correspondent banking functions, currently dominated by two major banks.

The initiative is part of the CBN’s efforts to address Nigeria’s persistent forex crisis.

Fitch Ratings expressed apprehension, highlighting the potential negative effects on the banking sector’s FC liquidity.

The agency noted that the centralization of correspondent banking activities, coupled with recent measures by the CBN, might exacerbate liquidity challenges for Nigerian banks.

Furthermore, Fitch cautioned that the recent devaluation of the naira, coupled with the CBN’s circular prohibiting banks from holding net long foreign currency positions, could further strain FC liquidity.

The prohibition on net long FC positions may leave banks more vulnerable to naira depreciation, potentially affecting their capital positions.

The CBN’s move to harmonize different segments of the foreign currency market last June led to significant naira devaluation, with the local currency closing at 899/$ at the official market by the end of last year.

As of February 13, the naira experienced a second devaluation, reaching 1,516/$, marking a 40% devaluation.

While the shift away from a managed exchange rate regime aims to attract capital inflows and mitigate forex shortages, it poses short-term risks such as heightened inflation and potential strains on loan quality and capital adequacy within the banking sector, as highlighted by Fitch Ratings.

As discussions continue, stakeholders closely monitor the implications of the proposed Foreign Currency Gateway Bank on Nigeria’s financial landscape.

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Banking Sector

CBN Mandates Automated Transaction Monitoring to Combat Fraud in Nigeria

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Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has introduced new regulations mandating banks to implement automated transaction monitoring systems to combat the growing threat of fraud in the country’s financial sector.

Under the CBN’s latest ‘Consumer Protection Regulations’ draft, banks are required to adopt advanced measures to protect customers’ assets and prevent fraudulent activities.

These measures include multi-variant customer identification, multifactor authentication mechanisms for transactions, automated transaction monitoring, alert functions, and behavioral monitoring.

The move comes amid a significant rise in fraud cases across Nigeria, with the first half of 2023 witnessing 24,232 reported fraud cases totaling N12.33 billion.

The banking industry has seen 110 executives and junior staff members dismissed due to fraud-related offenses amounting to N82 billion over the past two years.

According to the CBN, sensitizing customers on fraud threats or scams and providing secure and simple user interfaces for digital financial services are crucial steps to minimize the risk of fraudulent activities.

The regulations emphasize the importance of continuous efforts to enhance cybersecurity and protect consumers in an increasingly digital financial landscape.

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