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Dearth of Software Engineers Compounding Internet Banking Difficulties,  Nigerian Banks Reveal



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One of the challenges confronting the cashless policy of the Federal Government is the dearth of software engineers at the money deposit institutions to fix complaints of poor network trailing the use of digital transactions, Investors King has learnt.

Many Nigerians have complained bitterly about their difficulty in making use of alternate channels including mobile apps and internet transfers following the cash crunch ravaging the country.

They said most of the bank apps were malfunctioning and that payments and reception of transfer alerts are being delayed and further frustrating them.

For some of them, the nation appeared not ready for the cashless policy it has introduced through the redesigning of larger denominations of the naira currency and the non-circulation of the same.

Explaining the reason behind the hiccups, commercial banks in Nigeria said they lost most of their software engineers to the mass exodus of young Nigerians abroad in search of a better life, adding that they have been struggling to replace these tech gurus to attend to the issues of the poor network during transfer among other problems affecting the smooth implementation of digital banking.

The President of the Association of Corporate Affairs Managers of Banks (ACAMB), Rasheed Bolarinwa, while speaking during an interview, assured Nigerians that the challenges would soon be resolved as banks have been working towards recruiting fresh engineers to attend to the problems at the backend of the sites.

While agreeing that the challenges that have been happening with the digital transaction were real and that banks have been seeing difficulties at the backend, Bolarinwa said most of the banks have been losing some of their software engineers to the exit of youths in the country.

He said the Japa syndrome impacted significantly on some of the resolutions that normally happen at the backend, but, noted that resources are being mobilised and talents are being streamlined to ensure that the banks have a minimal obstruction in the technological space.

According to him, “We understand the frustration and everything that has happened but nothing justifies an attack on the banking institutions. If there are those who have left the country (software engineers), the banks have the capacity and muscle to train more people that will come into the industry and fix whatever challenges that we face. Our investments in the alternate channels cannot go to waste. This situation will normalize and Nigeria will take its pride of place in the comity of nations.”

Bolarinwa urged Nigerians to embrace the cashless method by using alternate channels of transactions. He said it was high time Nigerians desist from depending on cash for their daily transactions and that banks have invested heavily to see to the full realisation of the policy.

“We (Nigerians) should stop paying attention to cash. We shouldn’t abuse the naira. We should embrace the cashless policy. We can’t be referencing advanced society and fail to do what the advanced society do. A country that doesn’t manage its monetary system very well won’t work and that’s why CBN is ensuring that everyone embraces cashless policy.

“80 percent of Nigerians have access to one form of alternate channels or the other. We have the USSD, we have the internet banking, we have the mobile banking, you have the POS, where the banks were able to provide billions of jobs for the unemployed and that’s one of the values that banks brought into the system, then we have the digital banks itself. You have more than eight alternate channels and I believe every Nigerian who had had active service, must have used one or two,” he said.

On how Nigerians who are unable to make successful digital transactions, Bolarinwa explained that, “there are laid down resolution mechanisms; whenever you buy things and you are unable to get value or maybe the merchant didn’t get value, once that happens, just collect your ticket and call the bank. Every bank has 24/7 multilingual call centre where hundreds of Nigerians are employed to work round the clock to restore customer-issues. So, when this happens, all that you need to do is to lodge complaints. You will get your money back, it may be immediate or maybe one week. Once you have incidented it, you will be given a complainant card and that’s what you will be using to reference it once that issue has not been resolved.”

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Nigeria’s Public Debt Hits ₦121.67 Trillion as Borrowings Surge – DMO



The Debt Management Office (DMO) of Nigeria has announced that the country’s total public debt has risen to ₦121.67 trillion ($91.46 billion) as of March 31, 2024.

This represents an increase of ₦24.33 trillion from the ₦97.34 trillion ($108.23 billion) recorded at the end of December 2023.

The surge in debt is attributed to both domestic and external borrowings by the Federal Government, the 36 state governments, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The DMO’s report reveals that Nigeria’s domestic debt now stands at ₦65.65 trillion ($46.29 billion), while the external debt is ₦56.02 trillion ($42.12 billion).

The DMO noted that the rapid increase in public debt is largely due to new borrowing to partially finance the 2024 Budget deficit and the securitization of a portion of the ₦7.3 trillion Ways and Means Advances at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“The increase was from new borrowing to part-finance the 2024 Budget deficit and securitization of a portion of the ₦7.3 trillion Ways and Means Advances at the Central Bank of Nigeria,” the DMO stated.

Despite the rising debt, the DMO remains optimistic about future debt sustainability, contingent on improvements in government revenue.

“Whilst borrowing, as provided in the 2024 Appropriation Act, will continue, we expect improvements in the Government’s Revenue to enhance debt sustainability,” the DMO added.

The increase in debt comes at a time when President Bola Tinubu is preparing to present the 2024 Supplementary Budget to the National Assembly.

This follows the President’s approval of the ₦28.7 trillion 2024 Appropriation Bill on January 1, 2024, which was ₦1.2 trillion higher than the budget originally proposed in November 2023.

The 2024 budget, dubbed the “Budget of Renewed Hope,” set ambitious targets, including pegging the oil price at $77.96 per barrel and estimating daily oil production at 1.78 million barrels.

However, the naira has faced severe depreciation, plunging to nearly ₦2,000/$1 in February, before stabilizing around ₦1,500/$1.

Economic analysts warn that the escalating debt and currency depreciation could pose significant challenges to Nigeria’s economic stability.

The government’s ability to manage its borrowing and stimulate revenue generation will be critical in navigating these fiscal pressures.

As Nigeria grapples with these economic realities, the focus remains on finding sustainable solutions to manage the growing debt burden while fostering economic growth and stability.

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Banking Sector

Federal High Court Sets Date for Contempt Hearing in GTB vs. AFEX Loan Case



The Federal High Court in Lagos has scheduled June 27, 2024, for the next hearing in the ongoing contempt suit filed by Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTB) against directors of AFEX Exchange Commodities Limited.

The case revolves around a disputed N17.81 billion loan obtained under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.

Presiding over the court, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke set the date following a session where arguments were presented by the plaintiff’s lead counsel, Mr. Ade Adedeji (SAN), and the respondent’s counsel, Prof. Olawoyin (SAN).

The core issue pertains to the alleged disobedience of a court order by the directors of AFEX Exchange Commodities Limited.

GTB, through its counsel Ajibola Aribisala (SAN), has accused AFEX and its directors—Ayodele Balogun, Jendayi Fraaser, Justin Topilow, Mobolaji Adeoye, and Koonal Ghandi—of contempt for failing to comply with a court directive.

The bank alleges that these directors did not appear in court as mandated, which led to the initiation of contempt proceedings.

During the latest session, Adedeji emphasized the necessity for the directors to appear in person, stating, “My lord, the parties in contempt are not in court. The contemnors cannot sit in the comfort of their homes and send a lawyer to court in contempt proceedings. The law is trite that they must appear before the court.”

In response, Olawoyin argued that he had only recently been briefed on the matter and was not fully aware of the prior developments.

He noted that some of the individuals listed as directors were no longer with the company, adding that one current director, Mr. Akinyinka, was present in court, while another was on pilgrimage.

The contempt case traces back to a suit marked FHC/L/CS/911/2024, where GTB sought to recover the loan amount through legal measures.

On May 27, Justice Aneke granted an interim Global Standing Instruction (GSI) injunction, which directs over 20 banks to transfer funds credited to AFEX into its account with GTB until the debt is settled.

Also, the court authorized GTB to take possession of AFEX’s 16 warehouses across seven states and sell the commodities stored within, as these were procured using the CBN’s loan facility.

The N17.81 billion loan comprises N15.77 billion in principal and interest outstanding as of April 17, 2024, and an additional N2.04 billion covering recovery costs and incidental expenses.

As the court prepares for the next hearing, the financial and legal communities are closely watching the proceedings.

The outcome will significantly impact not only the involved parties but also set a precedent for handling similar cases in the future.

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Banking Sector

CRC Credit Bureau Celebrates 15 Years with Record 14% Credit Penetration in Nigeria



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CRC Credit Bureau Limited celebrated its 15th anniversary with a record 14% credit penetration rate.

The occasion was marked with the CRC Finance and Credit Conference 2024 held in Lagos, where key industry stakeholders gathered to reflect on the bureau’s journey and discuss future trends in credit risk management.

Founded in January 2010 and licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), CRC Credit Bureau has played a pivotal role in enhancing access to credit across Nigeria.

Dr. Tunde Popoola, the Group Managing Director/CEO of CRC Credit Bureau Limited, highlighted the bureau’s journey, noting that from its inception with a single product, CRC has expanded its offerings to 18 products covering all aspects of the lending value chain.

Speaking at the conference, Dr. Popoola underscored the bureau’s contribution to Nigeria’s financial sector, stating, “CRC Credit Bureau has been instrumental in transforming access to credit in Nigeria over the past 15 years. We started with a vision to simplify credit access through reliable data and have since grown to serve millions of Nigerians.”

The event focused on the theme “Sustainable Financing Options: Innovations in Credit Risk Management,” emphasizing the importance of sustainable finance amid economic challenges.

The conference provided a platform for stakeholders to discuss strategies for mitigating risks and enhancing the efficiency of credit operations in Nigeria.

Reflecting on the current state of credit penetration, Dr. Popoola noted that while Nigeria has made significant progress, the 14% penetration rate still falls below global benchmarks.

He highlighted that CRC Credit Bureau currently holds credit scores for 33 million Nigerians, facilitating over 29.4 million searches in 2023 alone, with an additional 10 million searches conducted in the first quarter of 2024.

Joel Owoade, Chairman of CRC’s Board of Directors, acknowledged the economic headwinds impacting businesses in Nigeria but stressed the importance of sustainable financing to mitigate risks associated with lending.

“As we navigate economic fluctuations, sustainable financing remains crucial to fostering economic stability and growth,” Owoade remarked.

The conference also featured insights from industry experts on leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) in credit risk management and regulatory frameworks to support AI-driven innovations.

Olaniyi Yusuf, Managing Partner of Verraki, highlighted the potential of AI to create jobs and enhance economic productivity, calling for supportive regulatory environments that balance innovation with risk management.

Representatives from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) emphasized the regulator’s efforts to promote sustainable credit practices.

Dr. Adetona Adedeji, Acting Director of the Banking Supervision Department at CBN, outlined initiatives such as the National Collateral Registry and Global Standing Instruction aimed at enhancing credit access while minimizing risks.

As CRC Credit Bureau looks ahead, Dr. Popoola expressed optimism about the future, stating, “We remain committed to driving greater financial inclusion and expanding credit access in Nigeria. Our focus is on leveraging technology and strategic partnerships to deliver innovative solutions that meet the evolving needs of consumers and lenders.”

The celebration of CRC Credit Bureau’s 15th anniversary underscored its pivotal role in Nigeria’s financial sector, marking a milestone in the nation’s journey towards broader financial inclusion and sustainable economic growth.

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