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Fidelity Bank boosts Nigeria’s Non-oil Exports with FITCC Houston

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The much-anticipated second edition of the Fidelity International Trade and Creative Connect (FITCC) got off to a boisterous start on Tuesday, 24 October 2023 as leading financial institution -Fidelity Bank Plc -hosted a broad range of businesses, regulators, members of the diplomatic corps and other guests to the opening ceremony in Houston, Texas, United States of America.

Tagged FITCC Houston, the two-days event is aimed at achieving several objectives including increasing the pipeline of Nigerian businesses that export into the US market, providing the diaspora market more ethnic product options and enabling exporters to build capacity to improve product quality and meet international standards.

Welcoming participants to the event, MD/CEO, Fidelity Bank Plc, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, said, “Developments on the global scene have necessitated the need to constantly seek viable alternatives as businesses work to stay competitive in a rapidly evolving macro-economic environment. On the supply side, businesses are waking up to the imperative of catering to an international customer base in order to hedge against currency devaluation risks, increase the reach of their products and to ultimately ensure the long-term sustainability of their ventures. Indeed, globalization has emphasized the need for businesses to improve in terms of cross border offerings and collaborations.

“To bridge these gaps, we created the Fidelity International Trade & Creative Connect (FITCC) in 2022 and hosted the inaugural edition of the expo in London last November. At the event, we had over 100 Nigerian businesses connected to United Kingdom business counterparts and deals worth about 200million dollars closed on the spot and post-event. This year, we are taking it a notch higher as we aim to close deals worth about 250million dollars. We have therefore put in place an elaborate experience to help stakeholders achieve this and several other objectives at this expo.

Following the welcome address, keynote and goodwill addresses were presented by the President & Chairman of the Board of Directors African Export–Import Bank (Afreximbank), Professor Benedict Oramah; and Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States of America, Dr. Uzoma Emenike respectively.

A key part of the event was the exhibition which featured more than 160 Nigeria and US-based businesses active in the fintech, commodities, fashion, cosmetics, service, creative, agriculture and extractive industries in the non-oil sector.

One of the exhibitors and the Founder/CEO, Oriki Spa, Joyce Awosika said, “We look forward to meeting all our amazing customers and we promise them an impactful experience with our products that would leave a lasting impression. We urge them to join us at booth 520 here at FITCC Houston.”

The expo also featured the signing of a $40million pre-export finance facility in favour of JohnVents Industries -one of the exhibitors at the expo. The loan, which has been adjudged as a landmark development by analysts in the exports space -would be provided by AFREXIM Bank with Fidelity Bank acting as the local administrative agent.

“We are delighted to participate in the tripartite loan signing ceremony as it demonstrates the size of the opportunity in the Nigerian cocoa market and its potential to meet the demand of off-takers in the US. The ceremony also highlights the value of our partnership with AFREXIM Bank especially in providing much-needed credit to last mile beneficiaries to upscale their operations and cater to a global market. These align with our objectives for FITCC and we are thrilled to host the formal deal signing event here”, commented an elated Mrs. Onyeali-Ikpe in a chat with journalists at the event.

Day 1 of FITCC Houston closed out with a fashion show dedicated to unique Nigerian pieces. Themed, “The Connect Plus Fashion Show”, the event featured elegantly styled-models adorning distinctive and culturally inspired designs from several Nigerian labels including Bijelly Couture, Eclectic Chique and MODChic. The fashion show also provided networking opportunities for guests and participants.

Ranked as one of the best banks in Nigeria, Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged customer commercial bank with over 8 million customers serviced across its 251 business offices in Nigeria and the United Kingdom as well as on digital banking channels.

The bank was recognized as the Best Payment Solution Provider Nigeria 2023 and Best SME Bank Nigeria 2022 by the Global Banking and 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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Banking Sector

85.51 Million Nigerian Bank Customers Face Withdrawal Freeze Over NIN, BVN Deadline

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First Bank

As the March 1 deadline looms, an estimated 85.51 million Nigerian bank customers are facing the possibility of frozen accounts due to their failure to link their National Identification Numbers (NINs) and/or Bank Verification Numbers (BVNs) to their accounts.

Recent findings reveal the potential scale of the impending banking crisis.

Data from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) indicates that Nigeria had approximately 146 million active individual bank customers as of December 2022.

However, by January 26, 2024, only 60.49 million BVNs were recorded on the NIBSS portal, leaving a significant portion unlinked.

Meanwhile, about 104 million NINs had been issued by December 2023, highlighting the disparity between NIN issuance and BVN linkage.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had earlier issued directives to banks, mandating them to restrict transactions on accounts lacking linked NINs and BVNs, with effect from March 1, 2024.

Any accounts found non-compliant risk being designated as ‘Post no Debit,’ rendering them unable to process further transactions.

Responding to the impending crisis, the Director-General of the National Identification Management Commission (NIMC), Abisoye Coker-Odusote, emphasized the need for the revalidation of Front-End Partners (FEPs) to ensure the integrity of the identity database.

She underscored the importance of NIN registration and urged collaboration with various stakeholders to expedite the process.

The Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Aminu Maida, reiterated the significance of linking NINs to SIM cards to enhance national security.

Telecom subscribers were urged to comply with the NIN-SIM linkage directive to avoid service disruptions.

Meanwhile, financial service providers like Opay have issued reminders of the impending restrictions, urging customers to comply with the linkage requirements.

Amidst concerns, some customers contemplate transferring funds to compliant accounts to avoid potential financial setbacks.

As the deadline approaches, stakeholders are intensifying efforts to mitigate the impact of the impending banking crisis on millions of Nigerians.

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Banking Sector

Central Bank of Nigeria Injects Over $300 Million to Stabilize Naira-Dollar Exchange Rate

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In a bid to mitigate the continuous depreciation of the naira against the dollar, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has injected over $300 million into the foreign exchange market.

This move comes amidst concerns over the instability of the naira-dollar exchange rate, which has seen rates soar as high as N1850/$ in recent trading sessions.

The Association of Corporate Treasurers of Nigeria revealed the CBN’s intervention in an advisory memo to its members, highlighting the significant injections made over the past two weeks.

The memo underscores the urgency to address the steep decline in the value of the naira, which has posed challenges to businesses and individuals alike.

The CBN’s proactive measures signal a concerted effort to stabilize the forex market and restore confidence in the domestic currency.

The injection of funds aims to provide liquidity and alleviate pressure on the naira, which has experienced rapid depreciation in recent weeks.

Market analysts anticipate that the CBN’s intervention will help mitigate the volatility of the naira-dollar exchange rate, providing relief to businesses and consumers grappling with the economic uncertainties.

The move reflects the CBN’s commitment to maintaining stability in the forex market and fostering economic growth amidst challenging times.

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Banking Sector

FBN Holdings Surpasses GTCO, Zenith Bank to Become Nigeria’s Most Valuable Bank

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Femi Otedola

FBN Holdings has emerged as Nigeria’s most valuable bank, surpassing Guaranty Trust Holding Company (GTCO) and Zenith Bank in terms of market capitalization.

At the close of trading on Monday, FBN Holdings achieved a market capitalization of N1.22 trillion, solidifying its position at the forefront of the banking sector.

The bank’s market cap is now higher than GTCO’s N1.16 trillion and Zenith Bank’s N1.11 trillion.

The surge in FBN Holdings’ market capitalization represents a 56.68% increase since Femi Otedola assumed the role of chairman on January 31st.

Otedola’s stewardship has been instrumental in driving FBN Holdings’ exponential growth.

Since he was appointed a non-executive director in August 2023 and subsequent ratification by shareholders, his leadership has been characterized by strategic decision-making and investor confidence.

Holdings’ shares have risen from N21.70 to N34 under his chairmanship, representing a significant boost for investors and shareholders.

The market’s positive response to Otedola’s leadership underscores the importance of effective governance and visionary leadership in driving financial performance and investor value.

Minority shareholders have expressed optimism about Otedola’s impact on dividend payments and capital appreciation, highlighting his track record of prioritizing shareholder interests in his previous roles.

FBN Holdings’ ascent to the top spot signals a new era of growth and stability for the bank, setting the stage for continued success in Nigeria’s dynamic financial landscape.

As the banking sector navigates evolving market conditions, FBN Holdings’ position at the pinnacle reflects its resilience and adaptability in driving sustainable value for stakeholders.

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