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Unity Bank Yanga Product Positioned to Empower Underbanked Women Entrepreneurs – Olufunwa Akinmade

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Divisional Head, Retail, SME Banking and E-Business, Unity Bank Plc, Mr. Olufunwa Akinmade has explained that the “raison d’etre for launching the Bank’s latest retail product called Yanga is to create a unique product proposition aimed at empowering the underbanked women entrepreneurs in Nigeria”.

Akinmade, who stated this during a chat with the media, citing a recent EFInA report, said that “there are 51 million Nigerian women above 18 years of age, with over 41% of the unbanked. Out of these figures, it is estimated that there are 14-18 million female entrepreneurs – mainly in the micro SME category”.

Recall that Unity Bank launched the women-focused Yanga account in November 2021 to promote financial inclusion and cater to unbanked women entrepreneurs across Nigeria in the MSME space.

Therefore, the new retail product is designed to deepen its beneficial impact on Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs operated by women in the mass-market retail space.

According to Akinmade, “Recent research has shown that Nigeria has the highest number of women entrepreneurs in the world, with an estimated 40 million SMEs, of whom women constitute approximately 42%.

“These women have proved beyond reasonable doubt that they have the capacity to create wealth and contribute productively to the economy. However, a lot more needs to be done and it starts with empowering them with the right tools to harness this entrepreneurship potential.

“Currently, they face many institutional and cultural hurdles while starting or running their businesses. For instance, a recent report shows that only 22% of female entrepreneurs have access to finance against 34% of males.

“This is part of why we have introduced Yanga to bridge this gap while also narrowing the population of underbanked women entrepreneurs”.

Akinmade further explained that the Unity Yanga product will play a critical role in boosting financial inclusion and narrowing the underbanked women population as the account comes with a unique product proposition that includes an easy to operate and free to open a Savings account, with no identification required, customized debit card, dedicated sales officers.

He identified other unique features including special banking agents in each market location and quarterly Seminars at main market locations anchored by Unity Bank and its alliance partners.

“By rolling out this scheme across all geopolitical regions, Unity bank’s objective is to work assiduously towards reducing the huge numbers of underbanked women in the country,” he added.

A key part of the Yanga Product experience is (1) micro-loans and (2) HMO-offering

The micro-loan would be availed with time-tested Credit Policies, backed with technology-based credit scoring. These would help detect frivolous applications as well as reduce NPLs.

Yanga is available to all women entrepreneurs nationwide. The Bank is currently conducting market activations in strategic locations across the country with its brand ambassador, popular Nollywood actor, Sola Sobowale. So far, the Yanga activation train has been to Gombe, Akwa Ibom, and Ibadan and is currently in Lagos and en-route Port Harcourt.

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Banking Sector

CBN: New National Domestic Card Will Improve E-payment, Foreign Exchange 

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Godwin Emefiele - Investors King

The newly inaugurated Nigerian National Domestic Card Scheme is aimed at enhancing electronic payment and foreign exchange, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says.

The official launch of the National Domestic Card was done virtually on Thursday, Investors King reports.

Speaking on the benefits of the new domestic card, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele said it will lessen operating costs, charges and strengthen foreign exchange in Nigeria.

Emefiele stated that the use of the new domestic card is with immediate effect and all local transactions will be done through the card.

His words, “Ladies and gentlemen, at this time when foreign exchange challenges persist globally, it is important that I say that we have come up with this card to ensure that all online transactions will now be effective and immediately begin to go on the Nigerian National Domestic Card system.

“All domestic transactions that are going to be conducted in Nigeria will have to be through the Nigerian domestic cards.”

He pointed out that the apex bank will collaborate with the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc and commercial banks to ensure that only international transactions are accompanied with charges as when done with Visa card or Master Card.

The CBN governor expressed concern over the large number of payments still carried out without cards despite the fact that card payment had been introduced in Nigeria a long time ago.

He highlighted some of the reasons as expensive card services which include charges due to foreign exchange requirements of the international card system and unlocalised cards in existence.

Emefiele averred that the new national domestic card scheme seeks to address these challenges and encourage more card transactions, adding that the card would be accessible to all citizens regardless of locality. 

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Banking Sector

CBN Says Era of Naira Hoarding Ending as Residents Rush to Beat Deadline

Nigeria’s cash in circulation has more than doubled since 2015 to N3.23 trillion

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Godwin Emefiele - Investors King

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele, has vowed to ensure that the country does not return to the era of hoarding naira notes.

Emefiele said the trend was wrecking the nation’s economy, stressing that by the time the old notes of N1000, N500 and N200 had been returned to various banks, the situation whereby some citizens store up cash in their personal custody would have been made difficult.

While updating journalists in Abuja, the nation’s capital on the ongoing cash return exercise across the country, Emefiele urged Nigerians who have hoarded money in their homes to return it to the banks.

While lamenting that Nigeria’s cash in circulation has more than doubled since 2015 to N3.23 trillion, Emefiele said the development attested to his disclosure that people are hoarding cash.

He added that people are keeping vaults in their homes and that the redesigned currency notes are parts of the means of disallowing them to continue owning banks in their homes.

The CBN Governor added that those who keep cash in their private residences don’t have the license to build bank vaults in their homes and urged them to take the money to banks.

Emefiele said their act was against the nation’s monetary policy, saying that they are keeping those monies to speculate against a currency, thus making the apex bank efforts more difficult.

Investors King had reported that the CBN had inaugurated a Cash Swap policy whereby agents are sent to rural communities for those without bank accounts to deposit the old notes with them.

The nation’s bank had added that those with limited access to formal financial services have the opportunity of exchanging a maximum N10,000 per person of the old notes through banks or agents without having to open an account.

The bank further noted that it was also working with about 1.4 million agents and lenders to reach citizens across the country to swap old notes for new ones or open bank accounts before the deadline.

For Emefiele, using representatives to penetrate the rural areas is a confirmation of its insistence that the January 31 deadline would not be shifted.

He maintained that Nigerians who couldn’t swap the old notes before next week Tuesday should consider them as “useless cash” in their hands.

Meanwhile, Nigerians have been rushing to beat the deadline.

Checks by Investors King on Wednesday revealed that the number of customers storming banks for exchange of notes has been increasing.

Emefiele said about N2 trillion ($4.3 billion) of cash is expected to be returned to banks by next week Tuesday.

Already, the governor said N1.5 trillion of the old notes had been returned as of last week, adding that the CBN hoped to get to N2 trillion by the Ned of the deadline.

A bank official who spoke with Investors King had said that banks are expected to return the old notes to CBN next week Tuesday, saying that Monday is the last day for customers to swap their old old notes.

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Banking Sector

CBN Adamant as National Assembly Seeks Extension of Old Notes’ Use by Six Months

Bank customers across the country have been lamenting the unavailability of the new notes and the brevity of time for them to return the old notes to their banks.

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New Naira Notes

Following complaints from Nigerians over the January 31 deadline for the phasing out of the old naira notes in lieu of the redesigning of N1000, N500 and N200 denominations that are scantly in circulation, the National Assembly has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to shift the deadline to July 31.

Bank customers across the country have been lamenting the unavailability of the new notes and the brevity of time for them to return the old notes to their banks.

In a bid to give citizens more time to return the old notes with them to banks and for more circulation of the new naira currency, the nation’s legislature directed the apex bank to move the deadline by six months.

Making the appeal on Tuesday during plenary, the Senate re-echoed its December appeal to CBN for the extension of the deadline, saying the scarcity of the new notes made the deadline extension inevitable.

One of the lawmakers, Senator Sadiq Umar, representing Kwara North Senatorial District under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), moved a motion on the floor of the Red Chamber and demanded an extension to July 31.

Umar’s motion was corroborated by most of his colleagues.

This development, however, forced the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, to put the prayers in motion to vote and the lawmakers voted in support of the extension of the deadline from January 31 to July 31.

It could be recalled that the upper chamber had in December asked the apex bank to shift the deadline to June 30.

Similarly, the House of Representatives, also on Tuesday, while lamenting the scarcity of the new notes, sought the extension of the deadline by six months.

The lower chamber has invited the nation’s commercial banks to explain the reason behind the difficulty in making the redesigned notes available to members of the public.

According to the house, the Managing Directors/Chief Executive Officers of the banks, under the umbrella of the Bankers’ Committee, are to meet with an ad hoc committee of the House to be chaired by the Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, on Wednesday, January 25.

But, the CBN is adamant and maintained that January 31 deadline is sacrosanct.

The governor of the apex bank, Godwin Emefiele made this known after the Monetary Policy Committee meeting in Abuja on Tuesday.

He said enough time had been given to Nigerians to change their old naira notes for new ones, saying that spate of kidnapping and ransom-taking had decreased since the three banknotes were redesigned.

Meanwhile, a check by Investors King at some banks on Tuesday revealed that while some had loaded their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) with the new notes, many others are yet to comply with the directive given by CBN.

At a branch of the Access Bank located at Post office area of Osogbo, Osun State, customers thronged the machines to withdraw cash.

Some of the customers who withdrew from the ATMs got new notes while others got N100 notes.

However, customers who were inside the banking hall were rushing to beat time and deposit their old notes before the deadline.

An old man who visited the bank’s counter begged the cashier for new notes but he was directed to the ATM outside the banking hall for new notes.

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