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Banking Sector

Don’t Wait Until The Last Day to Change Your Naira Notes, Banks Warn Nigerians

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) via its governor, Godwin Emefiele has maintained that January 31, 2023, remains the deadline date for the exchange of old naira notes to new notes.

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Nigerian banks have encouraged their customers to deposit their old naira notes early to avoid a last-minute rush as the deadline set by the Central Bank of Nigeria for depositing old notes draws closer.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) via its governor, Godwin Emefiele has maintained that January 31, 2023, remains the deadline date for the exchange of old naira notes to new notes, Investors King reports.

To ensure seamless exchange for its customers, Ecobank Nigeria called on its customers to approach any of its branches to deposit old naira banknotes into their accounts to avoid a last-minute rush, also assuring them of gaining a minimum of eight percent interest on their savings.

In a message to its customers, the bank assured that measures are in place in all its branches to ensure painless, easy and stress-free cash deposits by customers, adding that the bank’s branches are now open for business on Saturdays to accept deposits from customers.

David Isiavwe, Ecobank Group Head, Operations and Technology while being quizzed in Lagos, said there are no charges on cash deposits at any Ecobank branch, no matter the volume. He assured customers of prompt services any day of the week and on Saturdays when the branches are also open to receiving cash.

“We wish to inform our customers not to wait for rush hour to bring their cash to the bank. They should visit any of our branches closest to them to deposit their cash in their account. We have extended our working days to Saturday to enable customers deposit cash. Though we are impressed with the present turn out of customers, there is still the need for others to comply. We don’t want any of our customers to miss the CBN’s deadline.”

First Bank PLC has also extended its daily operations to Saturday as they want customers to bring in old notes for deposit. A statement from the bank read “Have you been busy all week long and can’t visit any of our branches? Don’t worry, come in this Saturday from 10 am – 1 pm and get a debit card while you deposit your old naira notes; there will be no charges for cash returned/paid into your accounts.”

Fidelity Bank PLC has also joined in the extension of operations as the bank has temporarily extended its operating hours to 6.00pm after the Central Bank announced the unveiling of the new naira notes before the earlier scheduled time.

The Federal Government through the CBN, on December 15, 2022 introduced new designs of 200, 500 and 1000 banknotes into the nation’s financial system.

 

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Banking Sector

FirstBank UK Enhances Fixed-Income Workflow Through Bloomberg Integration

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FirstBank UK, the UK subsidiary of First Bank Nigeria Limited, has announced its onboarding on Bloomberg’s Trade Order Management System (TOMS) to enhance its fixed-income workflow.

The integration with TOMS is expected to provide FirstBank UK with access to a comprehensive suite of data and analytics, communications, order, and execution management solutions, streamlining its fixed-income bonds business.

As a niche market-maker for its customers in Africa, FirstBank UK plays a vital role in providing market liquidity in cash bonds, particularly in Nigerian, Angolan, Egyptian, and Ghanaian Eurobonds, to manage risk and optimize its inventory.

Olukorede Adenowo, CEO-designate at FirstBank UK, expressed enthusiasm about the integration, stating, “Bloomberg TOMS provides FirstBank UK with a complete end-to-end trading workflow covering African bonds in most of our home markets. The solution enables us to focus on expanding our footprint in the African Fixed Income landscape and deliver a first-in-kind service to our customers in Africa.”

Bloomberg’s TOMS is renowned for enhancing operational efficiency across enterprises. Lisa Bravo, Global Head of Sell-Side OMS at Bloomberg, commented, “We are pleased to help FirstBank UK enhance operational efficiency across its enterprise with our award-winning sell-side order management solution TOMS.”

FirstBank UK had previously digitized its order management workflow by offering clients access to liquidity on its Eurobond Single-Dealer Platform.

The recent integration with Bloomberg TOMS aims to centralize order handling, aggregated custom analytics, and liquidity tools within a single interface, facilitating real-time access to liquidity for customers.

Robert Hagenaars, Head of Markets at FirstBank UK, highlighted the unique feature of real-time access to liquidity in their markets, providing a distinct advantage for their customers.

This move signifies FirstBank UK’s commitment to leveraging advanced technological solutions to fortify its position in the African Fixed Income market and deliver enhanced services to its clientele.

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Banking Sector

BFREE and Union Bank Explore Distressed Loan Portfolio Acquisition in Innovative Partnership

German-Nigerian Fintech BFREE and Union Bank of Nigeria to Explore Distressed Loan Portfolio Acquisition

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In a strategic move to address economic challenges and adapt to the current financial landscape, German-Nigerian fintech firm BFREE and Union Bank of Nigeria have announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that explores the potential acquisition of distressed loan portfolios.

The MoU was formalized during the German-Nigerian Business Forum in Berlin, signifying a collaboration that could reshape Union Bank’s loan portfolio strategy.

BFREE, in conjunction with its international financing partners, is eyeing a potential investment cap of $40 million.

The focus of the collaboration is on refinancing non-performing loan portfolios, particularly those facing delays in repayment or already written off.

As Union Bank adjusts to economic pressures, the partnership leverages artificial intelligence to provide innovative solutions, offering increased flexibility for loan repayment plans.

Union Bank, acknowledging the challenging economic environment, has taken proactive steps to navigate uncertainties.

Executive Director of Union Bank, Joe Mbulu, expressed excitement about the strategic partnership, emphasizing its alignment with Union Bank’s commitment to innovation and adaptability.

This collaboration underscores the dedication to finding inventive solutions to address economic challenges faced by customers.

The potential acquisition of distressed loan portfolios reflects a forward-looking approach to financial management and resilience in a dynamic economic landscape.

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Banking Sector

Nigerian Bank Shares Surge as Central Bank Signals Capital Buffer Strengthening

Investors Respond Positively to Anticipated Capital Raising Measures

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Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)

Nigerian bank shares experienced a surge on Monday as investor sentiment rose following the central bank’s announcement that banks should increase their capital to cushion against economic uncertainty.

FBN Holdings Plc led the way with a 10% increase to N22 per share, its highest-a-day increase in five months.

Access Holdings Plc and Sterling Financial Holdings Plc also joined the upward trend, recording gains of 4.3% and 5%, respectively.

The banking index, which gauges the performance of the country’s major lenders, rose 1.7% to 754.95, reflecting the most significant increase in almost a month.

Investors are interpreting the central bank’s directive as a precursor to potential capital-raising initiatives by banks.

Joshua Odebisi, a bank equity analyst at RMB Nigeria Stockbrokers, stated, “Investors are anticipating a few things that can happen, such as capital raising, which has potential upside for those taking a position now.”

He highlighted FBN as having significant room to fulfill higher capital requirements that the central bank might set.

Central Bank Governor Olayemi Cardoso announced the need for banks to raise additional capital as a safeguard against the challenges posed by the weaker naira and sluggish economic growth.

While specific details were not provided in the announcement, the industry expects forthcoming guidelines that may involve an increase in minimum shareholders’ equity and adjustments to capital adequacy ratios.

The move aligns with a broader industry trend of reinforcing capital buffers amid naira depreciation.

FBN had previously gained shareholder approval for a rights issue to raise up to 150 billion naira in fresh equity.

The central bank’s emphasis on capital strengthening comes as the Nigerian currency has experienced a 40% depreciation against the dollar since the easing of foreign-exchange controls in June.

FBN’s capital adequacy ratio stood at 16% in the third quarter, closely approaching the 15% minimum threshold for international banks.

In comparison, Access Bank reported a ratio of 19.6%, indicating a stronger position relative to regulatory requirements.

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