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CBN unveils eNaira USSD code in Kano



The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has unveiled the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) for its eNaira to enhance financial inclusion in the country.

The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele said this during the inauguration of the USSD transaction code at a 5-day Northern eNaira fair, Kano 2022.

The theme of the fair is: “Implementation of eNaira Wallet Towards Job Opportunity and Economic Growth.”

The apex bank introduced the eNaira transaction code *997#, to engender financial inclusion and avail Nigerians opportunities to endless possibilities through financial services.

Emefiele, represented by the Deputy Governor Operations, Mr Folashodun Adenisi-Shonubi, described eNaira as a strategic initiative, in accordance with the bank’s mandate to preserve monetary and financial stability.

“It captured the slogan ‘Same Naira, More Possibilities,’ and designed to positively impact lives of Nigerians, and transform the economy.

“The eNaira is expected to enhance inclusion, support poverty reduction, enable direct welfare disbursement to citizens, support a resilient payments ecosystem, improve availability and usability of central bank money,” he said.

He said it would also facilitate diaspora remittances, reduce the cost of processing cash, and improve efficiency of cross border payments, among others.

According to him, approximately 45 per cent Nigerians do not have bank accounts, while 35.9 per cent are excluded from formal financial services.

He, however, said that about 81 per cent of the adults population in Nigeria representing 86 million of the 106 million own mobile phones.

“In addition, there are 150 million Mobile Subscribers in Nigeria, according to NCC, June 2022.

“Therefore, eNaira seeks to leverage the huge opportunity mobile telecommunication presents, as a distribution channel for the offering of digital services to the underserved and unbanked population,” he said.

Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje, represented by Alhaji Sagir Muhammad, Special Adviser on Cabinet Affairs, thanked the CBN for the unveiling of the eNaira USSD code in Kano.

He said that his administration would ensure enabling environment for businesses to thrive for the overall social and economic development of the state.

The Governor said the state government would use the eNaira platform for its empowerment programmes, and urged Nigerians to utilise the opportunity, to boost their businesses.

“With this, you don’t need to go to the bank, POS operators, or have ATM card, all you need is to use the transaction code “997#,” he said

Money market

Ex-ANAN president applauds CBN’s move to revoke licenses of 4,173 BDC operators



By Sodiq Adelakun

Former President of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), Dr Samuel Nzekwe, has praised the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for revoking the operational licenses of 4,173 Bureaux De Change (BDC) operators.

Nzekwe expressed his commendation during a press briefing in Ota, Ogun State.

The CBN made the decision to revoke the licenses of the BDC operators on Friday. This move is seen as a positive development by Nzekwe, as it is expected to curb manipulations in the foreign exchange market.

The revocation of licenses is part of the CBN’s efforts to streamline the foreign exchange market and ensure transparency.

The apex bank has been taking steps to address the challenges faced in the foreign exchange market, including the depreciation of the naira and the scarcity of foreign currency.

He also stated that this action will enhance the effectiveness of the CBN’s policies in stabilising the foreign exchange market. The former ANAN president further urged the CBN to continue its efforts in strengthening the foreign exchange market and ensuring that the naira remains stable.

He also called on the apex bank to intensify its surveillance on the activities of BDC operators to prevent any form of malpractice.

The revocation of licenses is expected to have a significant impact on the foreign exchange market, as it will reduce the number of BDC operators and potentially lead to a more efficient and transparent market.

He noted that the BDCs in other climes were meant for light travellers but the reverse was the case in Nigeria.

“The BDC operators are part of the problems of the country as they have bastardised the foreign exchange policy,” Nzekwe said.

The ex-ANAN president stressed the need for adequate monitoring of BDCs operation by the CBN.

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Money market

CBN attracts $530m in foreign investment through government securities sale



The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has successfully sold N1.053 trillion ($680 million) worth of government securities as part of its liquidity management exercise.

The sale, which was oversubscribed, saw 79 percent of the total bids, equivalent to $530 million, coming from foreign investors.

The CBN’s Acting Director of Corporate Communications, Mrs Hakama Sidi, confirmed the successful conclusion of the sale in a statement issued on Sunday night. The sale of these short-term instruments is expected to help manage liquidity in the Nigerian economy.

It was gathered that the auction was the first since last week’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting, which was followed by a virtual meeting with foreign portfolio investors.

According to Sidi, the CBN Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, used both meetings to set a detailed strategy to curb inflation, stabilise the exchange rate and spur confidence in the banking system and the economy. She said that the development underscored the level of confidence the apex bank now enjoyed from investors, adding that the management of CBN was optimistic that its monetary policy measures were beginning to yield positive results.

Meanwhile, Cardoso highlighted in the meeting with investors an outlook for sustained increase in the CBN’s foreign currency reserves.

He assured them of improved liquidity in the foreign exchange market and imminent settlement of the remaining backlog of genuine foreign exchange transactions.

“The CBN is committed to supporting price stability by taking the necessary measures to increase liquidity in the foreign exchange markets sustainably.

“Our focus is on building a fully functioning market that allows smooth entry and exit for investors,” he said.

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Money market

Digital lending landscape expands to 263 with increased regulatory approvals



The digital lending sector in Nigeria continues to flourish as an increasing number of loan app companies receive the green light from regulatory bodies.

Recent data from the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) reveals a significant rise in the number of approved digital lenders, with the count escalating from 211 at the close of 2023 to a robust 263.

This surge in approvals reflects the FCCPC’s commitment to fostering a regulated environment for digital lending, ensuring consumer protection and fair competition.

Out of the 263 companies, 215 have secured full approval to operate within Nigeria’s burgeoning digital lending space.

Meanwhile, 38 companies are operating under conditional approval, pending the fulfillment of specific requirements set by the FCCPC. In a move that underscores the collaborative regulatory framework, the FCCPC has also acknowledged 10 additional companies that have been licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to offer loan app services.

This recognition integrates the CBN’s stringent licensing criteria with the FCCPC’s consumer-centric regulations, aiming to create a more transparent and reliable digital lending ecosystem.

The updated list published by the FCCPC is part of its ongoing efforts to provide clarity and oversight in a sector that has witnessed exponential growth, driven by the increasing demand for quick and accessible financial services.

As the number of approved digital lenders rises, consumers are afforded a wider array of choices, while also benefiting from the enhanced safeguards that come with a regulated market.

This expansion comes amid the issue of rising non-performing loans in the digital lending space and a growing list of illegal apps leveraging technology to lure people into taking collateral-free loans with exorbitant interest rates.

According to some industry stakeholders, the allure of high interest rates charged by the loan apps is encouraging more companies to see business opportunities in digital lending.

However, the President of the Money Lenders Association, the umbrella body of registered digital money lenders in Nigeria, Mr. Gbemi Adelekan, said high-interest rates are only peculiar to lenders offering small and short-term loans, known as Nano loans.

For him, the main reason more players are coming into the digital lending space is because fintech is one of the major booming sectors in the economy and there is ease of entry.

“I think more people are also coming into digital lending without proper risk assessment due to the minimal entry requirements and regulations,” he said in a telephone interview.

While noting that commercial banks are now also getting digital banking licenses separately from the CBN to be able to go into digital lending, Adelekan said, “You know how Nigerians are, once they see that one business is booming, they all move into it. If it’s stock, they move into it; if it’s hairdressing that is doing well today, everybody will rush it.

“Meanwhile, as some people are rushing in, a lot of people are rushing out because of the risks involved and the rising non-performing loans. Recovering debt from the people is now becoming more difficult.”

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