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CBN Kicks Against USSD Charges, Says Financial Inclusion at Risk

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  • CBN Kicks Against USSD Charges, Says Financial Inclusion at Risk

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has kicked against MTN Nigeria’s recent message to subscribers, stating the telecommunication giant will start charging them for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) access to banking services from Monday 21st October 2019.

The message read: “Yello, please note that from October 21, we will charge N4 per 20 seconds for the USSD access to banking services. Thank you.”

Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the Governor, CBN, said the move to start charging subscribers for USSD access would hurt CBN’s financial inclusion initiative.

The Governor, who was responding to questions from the annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund holding in Washington DC, USA, said: “About five months ago, I held a meeting with some telecom companies as well as the leading banks in Nigeria and the issue of USSD came up.

“At that time, we came to the conclusion that the use of USSD is a sunk cost, which is not an additional cost on the infrastructure of the telecom companies. But the telecoms companies disagreed with us and said it is an additional investment and they needed to impose it.”

Emefiele added that “I appealed to them that they should review it downwards and they refused. I understand that three or four weeks ago, rather than reduce it, they went ahead to increase it by 300 percent.

“I opposed it and I have told the banks that we will not allow this to happen; the banks gave this business to the telecoms companies, and I leave the banks and the telecom companies to engage.”

The Governor, however, said he has instructed Deposit Money Banks to move their business to any telecom company with the lowest service rate if not zero cost.

“And that’s where we stand and we must achieve it,” he added.

Dr. Isa Pantami, the Minister of Communications, said he has directed the Nigerian Communications Commission to suspension the USSD plan by MTN.

While MTN Nigeria has claimed the charges were from Deposit Money Banks, who have been paying and now want subscribers to bear that responsibility, Pantami said he was unaware of the development.

In a statement released on Sunday, he said, “The attention of the Federal Ministry of Communications has been drawn to the viral text message allegedly sent by the mobile network operator MTN Nigeria and other mobile operators notifying subscribers of a N4:00 charge per 20 seconds on the USSD access to banking services from the 21st of October 2019.”

“The office of the Honourable Minister of Communications, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, is unaware of this development and has hereby directed the sector regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission, to ensure the operator suspends such plans until the minister is fully and properly briefed.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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African Development Bank Extends $2.1m Disaster Risk Financing to Mauritania

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Mauritania: African Development Bank Extends $2.1m for Rollout of Disaster Risk Financing

The African Development Bank’s Board on Wednesday approved a grant of $2.1 million to boost the country’s resilience against climate related shocks and food insecurity. The funds, sourced from the African Development Fund, will go to provide technical and institutional support to strengthen Mauritania’s capacity to assess climate-related risk.

The Bank is extending the funding under its Africa Disaster Risk Financing (ADRIFI) program to enable the country to take out a drought risk index-based insurance policy that is expected to cushion Mauritania’s economy against the impacts of drought-related shocks, at a moment when the country is also reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The African Development Bank is pleased that ADRiFi Mauritania will provide efficient and timely first-response delivery to targeted beneficiaries in communities that will be affected by disasters, and will strengthen resilience to drought-linked disasters in Mauritania,” said Atsuko Toda, Bank Director for Agriculture, Finance and Rural Development.

Mauritania, a Saharan-Sahelian country, experiences irregular rainfall pattern and repeated drought, which has a profound effect on food production and incomes. In 2017, 28% of the total population were food insecure.

The project will have three components: development of climate risk management solutions; supporting access to disaster risk transfer mechanisms; and programme management and coordination.

Advancing climate risk management solutions will be done in two ways: building in-country capacity to understand drought risk and implement contingency plans; and collecting more precise agro-climatic data for use in calibration of index-based insurance.  Technical staff and policymakers will receive capacity building training that will help the country model its drought-related disaster risk more effectively.

Under component two, ADRIFI will provide funding for payment of 50% of the insurance policy premium for years 2020 and 2021 as well as support resource mobilization to establish a food crisis response mechanism.

The final component concerns overall coordination and monitoring of activities which will be carried out by the country’s Food Security Commission (CSA).

Mauritania’s risk insurance policy will be held by African Risk Capacity agency, a partner of the Bank  on the ADRiFi programme.

ADRIFI in addition to providing African countries assistance in paying risk premiums, enhances the management of natural disaster risk by strengthening national capacities. Madagascar, Zimbabwe and Gambia have ADRiFi programmes.

ARC Agency was established in 2012 as a Specialized Agency of the African Union to help Member States improve their capacity to better plan, prepare and respond to weather-related disasters. ARC Ltd is a mutual insurance facility providing risk transfer services to Member States through risk pooling and access to reinsurance markets; it is owned by Member States with active insurance policies, as well as KfW Development Bank and the UK Department of International Development (DfiD), as capital contributors.

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FG Apologises For Asking Bank Account Holders To Re-Register

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The Federal Government has apologised for asking all account holders in the country’s financial institutions to register their details again.

The media reports that the FG earlier asked all account holders in banks, including insurance companies, to fill and submit a Self-Confirmation form.

The order was given despite the possession of the Bank Verification Number and the National Identification Number by account holders on Thursday.

Failure to do so, the Nigerian government threatened to block access to defaulters’ accounts or impose a monetary penalty.

The order to fill another Self-Confirmation form, despite the existing BVN and NIN, had attracted condemnations on social media.

However, in a tweet on Friday, the government apologised for misinformation.

It tweeted, “We apologise for the misleading tweets (now deleted) that went up yesterday, regarding the completion of self-certification forms by Reportable Persons. The message contained in the @firsNigeria Notice does not apply to everybody. FIRS will issue appropriate clarification shortly.”

In a press statement, the Federal Inland Revenue Service explained that only “reportable persons” are expected to submit the form.

The statement read, “This is to clarify the publication for financial institutions account holders in Nigeria to complete the self-certification form, pursuant to the Income Tax (Common Reporting Standard) Regulations 2019 which is for the fulfilment of Automatic Exchange of Information Requirements.

“The Self Certification form is basically to be administered on Reportable persons holding accounts in Financial institutions that are regarded as “Reportable Financial Institutions” under the CRS.

“Reportable persons are often non-residents. And other persons who have a residence for tax purposes in more than one jurisdiction or Country.

“Financial Institutions are expected to administer the Self Certification form on such account holders when the information at its disposal indicates that the Account holder is a person resident for tax purpose in more than one jurisdiction.

“The information that indicates an account holder is a resident for tax purposes in more than one jurisdiction, is expected to be available to Financial Institutions during the account opening processes for the KYC and AML purpose.”

Earlier, the Nigerian government said all persons holding accounts in different financial institutions are required to complete and submit the form to each one of their institutions.

It had tweeted, “This is to notify the general public that all account holders in Financial Institutions (Banks, Insurance Companies, etc) are required to obtain, complete, and submit Self – Certification Forms to their respective Financial Institutions.

“Failure to comply with the requirement to administer or execute this form attracts sanctions which may include monetary penalty or inability to operate the account.”

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TAJBank Wins Best Islamic Bank for Marketing & Growth Strategy at the Global Islamic Finance Awards (GIFA) 2020.

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TAJBank has won the award for Best Islamic Bank for Marketing & Growth Strategy at the Global Islamic Finance Awards (GIFA) 2020.

Receiving the award on behalf of the bank, the Managing Director, Norfadelizan Abdul Rahman noted “We are honoured to be recognised as the Best Islamic Bank for Marketing & Growth Strategy at GIFA. Our vision at TAJBank, is to be the leading African financial institution with a reputation for excellent customer service and innovative solutions. This goes well beyond the recognizance in earnings and returns on equity, but also in ensuring that we sustain world class corporate governance standards and continually raise the bar in exceptional customer service delivery.

“As such, awards like this clearly reflect our sustained commitment towards this vision. and motivates us to continuously deploy innovative financial products that wholly empower our customers and serve their needs.”

TAJBank, widely regarded by industry watchers as a trailblazer, has maintained consistent growth since its inception into the market due to its various innovations in digital and financial services.

Recently, the bank commissioned its 4th office in Sokoto State and also established Nigeria’s first ethical mall, TAJMall, which focuses on providing products and services to meet the evolving needs of its customers.

The Global Islamic Finance Awards celebrates leading financial institutions within the global banking sector who are setting new industry standards and driving innovation in financial services within their various countries.

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