By Adedapo Adesanya
Two leading telecommunication services providers in Nigeria, MTN and Airtel have received approvals in principle towards the licensing of payment service banks (PSBs) by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The apex has given the green light to MTN for MoMo Payment Service Bank Limited while Airtel got the approval for its subsidiary SMARTCASH Payment Service Bank.
In separate filings seen by Business Post, MTN Nigeria on its own disclosed that the provisional service bank licence is the first step in a long process that would lead to eventual approval.
This simply means that MTN Nigeria would be required to fulfil a number of conditions, even as “the decision to issue a final approval is firmly within the regulatory purview of the CBN.”
MTN Nigeria expressed optimism that it would eventually get the PSB license and reaffirmed its commitment to the financial inclusion agenda of the CBN in Nigeria.
The company’s secretary, Uto Ukpanah, noted that “while we look forward to the eventful grant of a final PSB license, we will continue to communicate material information in accordance with regulatory obligations and guidelines.”
On Airtel’s part, its CEO, Mr Segun Ogunsanya said, “ I am very pleased that Smartcash has been granted an approval in principle to operate a service bank business in Nigeria. We will now work closely with the Central Bank to meet all its conditions to receive an operating licence and commence operations.
“The final operating licence will enable us to expand our digital financial products and reach millions of Nigerians that do not have access to traditional financial services.
“I am looking forward to working closely with the government, Central Bank, and traditional financial institutions to expand financial inclusion and meet the evolving needs of our customers and the economy.”
MTN and other non-financial companies have long been awaiting their PSB licenses since the Nigerian government first announced its willingness to issue them in 2018.
The announcements have been taken by industry stakeholders as a welcome development, a first step in what was deemed a financial revolution.
Telcos like MTN and Airtel looked forward to taking advantage of the more than 60 million Nigerians who are estimated to be financially excluded, by providing them access to financial tools.
CBN Mops up N56.8m Fake Banknotes in Circulation
CBN Engages Gombe Women, Youths to Deepen Financial Inclusion
Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.
By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel
A total of 67,265 pieces of counterfeit banknotes with a nominal value of N56.83 million was mopped up from circulation by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2020, an Annual Report provided by its Currency Operation Department has revealed.
This represents a 20.8 per cent decrease in volume when compared to the 84,934 pieces of fake banknotes impounded in the previous year, reflecting a 12.18 per cent decrease in value from N64.71 million.
According to the report, the N1000 denomination was the highest among these counterfeited notes as it constituted 69.1 per cent of the total counterfeit local currency realized during the period, followed by the N500 note, accounting for 30.79 per cent.
“The global standard for a number of counterfeits per million is 100. The ratio of counterfeit notes to the volume of banknotes in circulation was 13 pieces per million in 2020, compared to 20 pieces per million banknotes in 2019,” CBN disclosed.
It was noted that the drop in volume of fake Naira notes was a fruitful effort of the bank, in collaboration with security agencies to maintain the integrity of the banknotes in circulation by curbing incidences of counterfeiting during the reference period.
Relatively, the central bank said that it destroyed N698,480.00 million worth of unfit banknotes in 2020 to ensure the circulation of clean banknotes.
On currency disposal, the bank said, “At end-December 2020, a total of 151,427 boxes valued at N698,480.00 million was disposed”
This also showed that there was a decrease in the total disposed notes from 157,217 boxes valued at N814,437.60 million in 2019 to 5,790 boxes and N6,185.175 million disposed of in 2020.
In order to better the situation, the bank has said it would resolve to sustain compliance checks to ensure adherence to the Clean Notes Policy/Banknote and will continue collaboration with security agencies to combat the sale of naira banknotes, through sting operations and other activities.
“[there will be] automation of currency operations in the Branches to enhance efficiency and reduce manual intervention in some cash handling processes, and Recycling of banknote waste to reduce the carbon footprint,” it disclosed.
In addition, the CBN noted that it would continue to partner with relevant stakeholders in the Harmonized Publicity Campaign and reinforcement of the cashless policy to stem the tide of sale of naira notes.
This is to mitigate the act of counterfeiting and discourage poor handling of the naira notes.
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has enrolled about 25,000 unbanked women and youths in Gombe State as part of efforts to implement the framework for advancing women’s financial inclusion in Nigeria.
The apex bank also said it was building on its account opening drive to ensure digital financial inclusion in the state.
The Director of Development Finance Department at CBN, Mr Yusuf Yika, while speaking in Deba Local Government Area of the state, stated that the drive would feature awareness creation on financial literacy as well as provide an opportunity for women and the youth in the community to take advantage of the financial products and services.
In December 2019, a pilot account opening drive was held with over 82,000 new accounts opened across six states: Bayelsa (South-South), Ebonyi (South-East), Gombe (North-East), Kano (North-West), Nasarawa (North-Central) and Ondo (South-West).
Represented by the branch manager, Gombe CBN, Mr Shehu Goringo, Mr Yika noted that the programme would be held across five local government areas including, Biliri, Kaltungo, Yemaltu- Deba, Akko, and Dukku.
Mr Yika said, “The financial inclusion drive is an initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria, and other stakeholders to improve access of unbanked Nigerians to financial services and this year, we are kicking it off this November as part of the international Financial Inclusion Week celebrated globally.
“This means that throughout this week, financial services providers will be available to help unbanked women and youth make informed decisions about product uptake including savings accounts, micro pensions, micro insurance, BVN registration and NIN registration amongst others. There will also be opportunities to learn about investment opportunities and how to sustainably grow your finances.
“The tag line for the drive; ‘Open account, Get beta Life’ and the proposed target for the number of impressions (women and youth engaged, products deployed to) is 25,000 in Gombe State.”
On her part, Mrs Sophia Abu, of the Financial Inclusion Delivery Unit of the CBN, stressed that the week was geared towards bringing financial operations closer to the people.
“We have brought them to their doorsteps, we brought them here to help these women open accounts, to register BVN for those who don’t have and to register for their National Identity Number because we know that it is one of the barriers to access finance especially for women and youth in access points,” she said
She noted that the week would highlight the importance of getting relevant details like the BVN, NIN, adding that with the inclusion of women and youth, they would be discouraged from dealing with illicit financial operators.
“Essentially, we are trying to build the savings culture because we want to ensure these people save in formal financial services that are regulated so that they don’t go through negative practices from money lenders and others.
“So, they are able to save in formally regulated institutions then it will be easy for them if there are opportunities by the federal government to access those opportunities because like we all know federal government sometimes hands out conditional cash transfers and even interventions. So, if you don’t have a BVN or bank account it will be difficult to access those opportunities,” Mrs Abu added.
Also speaking, Emir of Deba, Ahmed Usman, commended the CBN for assisting his people to be financially inclusive.
He, however, called on the women and youth to take the opportunity provided seriously, adding that “Opening bank accounts will help you conduct business transactions with your partners across the world.”
By Adedapo Adesanya
The National Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE) has called for the creation of a Special Energy Bank to finance petroleum exploration activities in the country.
This call was made by the president of the association, Mrs Patricia Ochogbu, during a panel session at the Association of Energy Correspondents of Nigeria (NAEC) 2021 Strategic International Conference on Tuesday in Lagos.
The conference themed Petroleum Industry Act: Energy Transition and the Future of Nigeria’s Oil and Gas had robust discussions around the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and the country’s energy transition plans.
Mrs Ochogbu noted that the PIA had set aside funds for exploration of frontier basins in the country, however, the money would not be available for private sector investors.
She said exploration activities take a long time to mature, which make commercial banks not favourably disposed to granting loans for such purposes.
She said: “We need to have a dedicated bank like the Bank of Industry (BOI) or Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM).
“They can grant loans for exploration activities at reduced interest rates. So, I believe energy bank is the way to go.”
Also speaking, the Conference Chairman, Mr Biodun Adesanya, lauded the setting aside of 30 per cent of the profit of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for exploration activities in the frontier basins in the PIA.
Mr Adesanya said the discovery of oil and gas resources in other areas apart from the Niger Delta was a welcome development that should be pursued with vigour by the country.
He, however, called for the appointment of competent personnel to manage the sector, noting that this was the only way Nigerians could benefit from the country’s abundant oil and gas resources.
Also present at the event, Professor Emeritus of Petroleum Economics, Mrs Omowunmi Iledare, said effective implementation of the PIA was pivotal to the future of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.
She advised the government to collaborate with industry stakeholders and academia to work out modalities on how best to implement the Act.
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