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Banking Sector

CBN’s Cashless Policy Faced Challenges as Digital Banking Channels Prove Unreliable

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The Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) cashless policy, which aims to reduce the amount of cash in circulation, has faced challenges due to unreliable digital banking channels.

The Fintech Association of Nigeria has warned that the policy could damage customers’ trust in the banking system due to challenges with execution, such as merchants still requesting cash payments despite digital channels being available, and Point of Sale (PoS) merchants whose charges have increased to nearly 50 percent.

The policy was meant to bring ease of transaction for citizens but has been plagued by challenges. Due to the policy, many Nigerians have turned to digital banking channels, which have seen them face issues such as network problems, failed transactions, and fraudulent attacks.

According to reports, seven out of ten people in customer service queues at some major Nigerian banks are there because of a failed transaction or an unauthorized fraudulent transaction, particularly when using electronic banking channels.

Customers have expressed discomfort with electronic transactions due to their high risk and exposure to cybercriminals. Failed transactions are another concern for most customers who are reluctant to use electronic banking channels. Sometimes, failed transactions can take weeks or months to be resolved, forcing customers to give up on the cash, which is usually associated with a technical error.

Bank customers have raised concerns about fraud and inefficiency in electronic banking channels and are urging for them to be addressed before the cashless policy can be pushed forward.

Despite claims by Nigerian banks that they have invested over N100 billion in setting up and maintaining cutting-edge electronic channels over the past few years, the policy is still plagued by various challenges.

A cashless economy does not seem like a bad policy in itself, but it must be executed correctly and with the safety and convenience of customers in mind. Therefore, it is essential for the Nigerian banking system to address the challenges associated with the policy’s implementation, such as fraudulent attacks, failed transactions, and technical errors. By doing so, the banking system can ensure that customers can use digital banking channels with confidence and the cashless policy can be successfully implemented.

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Banking Sector

Heritage Bank Liquidation: NDIC Opens Bidding for Assets and Branches

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The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) has commenced the process of liquidating the bank’s assets across Nigeria.

This move comes as part of NDIC’s role as the liquidator of the failed bank, aimed at recouping funds and resolving outstanding liabilities.

The NDIC, through an advertorial published in major newspapers, has announced the sale of 48 properties belonging to Heritage Bank.

These properties include the bank’s head office located at 143 Ahmadu Bello Way and its annex at 130 Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Also, the liquidation covers chattels such as vehicles, office equipment, plant, and machinery spread across 62 locations nationwide.

Interested parties are invited to participate in a public competitive bidding process. They have been given the opportunity to inspect the assets and submit bids to acquire them.

The bidding process requires potential buyers to submit bids accompanied by a Certified Bank Draft amounting to 10% of their bid.

Successful bidders will be required to settle the balance within two weeks of notification of their successful bid.

The liquidation process marks a significant step in NDIC’s efforts to manage the fallout from Heritage Bank’s closure effectively.

The corporation has also commenced the verification and payment of depositors with balances of N5 million or less, a category that constitutes about 99% of the bank’s customer base. According to Bello Hassan, the Managing Director of NDIC, Heritage Bank had approximately 2.3 million depositors with total deposits amounting to N650 billion, while its loan portfolio stood at about N700 billion.

The decision to revoke Heritage Bank’s license was made by the CBN due to the bank’s persistent breach of regulatory requirements and its inability to improve its financial position despite intervention measures.

This action underscores the CBN’s commitment to maintaining financial stability within the banking sector and protecting depositors’ funds.

Stakeholders within the banking industry, including the Bank Directors Association of Nigeria (BDAN) and the House of Representatives, have expressed support for the regulatory actions taken.

BDAN’s Chairman, Mustapha Chike-Obi, emphasized the necessity of such decisions in safeguarding the overall health of the banking sector.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has passed a resolution urging the CBN to investigate the management and leadership of Heritage Bank to ascertain if any mismanagement or wrongdoing contributed to its failure.

The resolution also called for a comprehensive review of NDIC’s operations to ensure it is adequately equipped to fulfill its mandate as a deposit insurer and investor in failed banks.

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Banking Sector

Fidelity Bank Leads Trading as Equities Gain N324b

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Fidelity Bank Plc was the most active stock on Monday, 10 June 2024 at the Nigerian stock market as a strong positive sentiment led Nigerian equities to a net capital gain of N324 billion in the first trading session of the week.

The market opened with widespread positive sentiment as investors sought to lock into value stocks in the high-end sectors of oil and gas, construction and manufacturing.

With three gainers for every loser, the market closed with average return of 0.58 per cent, equivalent to net capital gain of N324 billion.

The momentum of activities also improved considerably as total turnover rose by 148.33 per cent to 963.541 million shares valued at N13.498 billion in 8,657 deals. Fidelity Bank topped the activity chart with 605.257 million shares valued at N6.025 billion.

Fidelity Bank’s activities appeared to be driven by buy sentiment as the stock closed within the top 15 gainers with a gain of 6.52 per cent to close at N9.80 per share.

The All Share Index (ASI)- the common value-based index that tracks all share prices at the Nigerian Exchange (NGX), rose by 0.58 per cent to close at 99,793.71 points as against its opening index of 99,221.14 points.

Aggregate market value of all quoted equities also increased simultaneously from its opening value of N56.128 trillion to close at N56.452 trillion.

Other most active stocks included Access Holdings, which recorded turnover of 93.067 million shares worth N1.744 billion. United Bank for Africa (UBA) traded 58.726 million shares valued at N1.261 billion. Nigerian Breweries traded 45.256 million shares valued at N1.267 billion while Zenith Bank traded 16.079 million shares worth N539.552 million.

Analysts at Futureview Financial Services said they anticipated a mixed sentiment in the equities market, primarily due to the enduring allure of the fixed income market among investors.

“This interest is fueled by expectations of increased rates in the Nigerian Treasury Bill (NTB) auction and the impending release of the inflation rate. However, amidst these factors, there remains an opportunity for sustainable growth, particularly in fundamentally strong stocks that currently find themselves in the oversold region. We foresee a selective pursuit of bargains, particularly in dividend-paying stocks, driven by the nearing corporate qualification and payment,” Futureview stated.

 

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Banking Sector

Sterling Bank Implements Blockchain Solution for SPPG

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Sterling Bank, a leading financial institution committed to driving innovation and progress, has partnered with the School of Politics, Policy, and Governance (SPPG) to revolutionize credential verification through blockchain technology.

This collaboration marks a significant milestone in enhancing the efficiency, security, and accessibility of academic credentials in Nigeria.

Acknowledging the pressing need for an effective solution, Sterling Bank has taken the initiative to back the implementation of VX Technologies’ innovative blockchain-based digital certification program. This initiative arose from the necessity for a transformative solution to address the difficulties faced by SPPG in managing and verifying academic credentials through paper-based systems.

“We are thrilled to partner with VX Technologies and SPPG to introduce this game-changing initiative,” said Obinna Ukachukwu, Chief Growth Officer Sterling Bank.

“We believe in the power of innovation to drive progress and transform lives at Sterling Bank. By supporting the adoption of blockchain technology in education, we are not only revolutionizing credential verification but also advancing our H.E.A.R.T strategy for Education, which prioritizes Access and Equity.”

Sterling Bank’s investment in this pioneering project underscores its commitment to fostering innovation and driving positive change in Nigeria’s education sector. By leveraging blockchain technology, graduates from SPPG will now have access to secure, tamper-proof digital certificates, ensuring the integrity and authenticity of their academic achievements.

As VX Technologies maintains its leadership position in integrating blockchain technology across diverse sectors, their collaboration with SPPG and Sterling Bank underscores the significant impact of blockchain technology on education and beyond.

“We are pleased to acknowledge the impactful generosity of Sterling Bank, who has provided the funding necessary for the initial phase of this project. “ said Ryan Hawkos, Director of Operations, VX Technologies. “This support ensures that thousands of SPPG alumni can access their digital certificates, with the first one thousand certificates being provided at no cost.”

As Nigeria’s education landscape continues to evolve in the digital age, Sterling Bank remains committed to driving innovation and empowering the next generation of leaders. Through strategic partnerships and groundbreaking initiatives like the blockchain-based digital certification project, Sterling Bank is leading the charge towards a future where access to education is seamless, secure, and equitable.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of SPPG, Alero Ayida-Otobo, “Sterling Bank’s commitment to quality and positive educational experiences for people is yet again demonstrated here in their commitment to supporting the adoption of innovative technology across the educational ecosystem.”

“We are one of the first institutions in Nigeria to embrace blockchain for academic credential management, and we look forward to a near future where this is the norm across Nigeria,” he added.

Renowned for its now famous HEART of Sterling strategy; which focuses investments in the Health, Education, Agriculture, Renewable Energy and Transportation; its irreverent brand voice and enviable talent management practices, Sterling has been awarded the Most Innovative Bank of The Year for by BusinessDay, been named the Overall Best Place To Work In Nigeria by the Great Place To Work Institute, and has featured on the prestigious top 100 fastest growing companies in Africa, as published by the globally recognized Financial Times, all in 2023.

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