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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

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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