First City Monument Bank (FCMB), through EasyAgents, its agency banking network and other channels, has successfully onboarded and empowered one million financially excluded Nigerians, ensuring they have a better and more sustainable future through access to financial services.
As part of its financial inclusion programme, the Bank has provided microloans valued at N40 billion to over 300,000 beneficiaries comprising 200,000 women traders across the country who have accessed over US$51.28 million (N28.7 billion) of the total loan sum.
Committing to affordable and sustainable financial services for unbanked and underbanked Nigerians, the Managing Director of FCMB, Mrs Yemisi Edun, said:
“We are proud of our significant role in integrating Nigeria’s huge informal economy driven by small-scale farmers, traders, artisans, and other small and medium-sized businesses into the formal economy through affordable and sustainable access to financial services. Access to financial services enables prosperity and allows disadvantaged and vulnerable people to improve their lives, create wealth and reduce poverty. So, we will continue championing and executing initiatives that deepen access to affordable and sustainable financial services in our local communities to empower individuals and businesses.”
In driving financial inclusion, First City Monument Bank embraced partnerships as critical success criteria. Last year, the Bank partnered with the World Savings Banks Institute (WSBI) to deepen agency banking and financial inclusion by rolling out an integrated savings account – ‘Easy Account’- to empower two million farmers by 2023. Under the first phase of the partnership, covering over 150,000 unbanked and under-banked farmers across five states, beneficiaries are provided funds and training support through agricultural agents operating under FCMB’s agency banking proposition.
The states are Kaduna, Kano, Nasarawa, Ogun and Oyo. In addition, FCMB also recently signed a partnership agreement with Shee-Coops, an international organisation that raises women’s active participation in cooperatives around the world, to provide funding to millions of women in the next five years to pursue opportunities that improve their livelihoods.
FCMB has invested in close to 10,000 agency bankers that bring financial services to the streets and doorsteps of millions of Nigerians in peri-urban and rural areas. They are currently driving the onboarding and empowering of unbanked and under-banked Nigerians.
Bank accounts are now being opened through agency bankers by hitherto unbanked and underbanked citizens. As a result, they now conveniently and securely make cash deposits, transfer funds, make withdrawals, obtain loans, buy airtime, and pay bills, among other financial transactions. In addition, they also have opportunities to access the Bank’s Agric value chain platform (EasyClub) and microloans to boost their standard of living and grow businesses.
A purpose beyond profit commercial banking institution, First City Monument Bank is a member of FCMB Group Plc, led by Ladi Balogun as Group Chief Executive. The Bank is committed to COVID-19 recovery, income equality and poverty reduction by easing credit constraints to disadvantaged individuals and small businesses.
Nigeria’s pension fund administrators channel N130.18bn into infrastructure
In a recent report released by the National Pension Commission, Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) have demonstrated a strong commitment to national development by investing a substantial N130.18 billion of the funds from the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) into infrastructure projects by the end of September 2023.
The unaudited report, which details the pension funds industry portfolio for the period ending on September 30, 2023, indicates a strategic allocation of pension assets to bolster the country’s infrastructure.
This move is part of a broader investment strategy that has seen the total assets under the CPS surge to an impressive N17.35 trillion. The PFAs are not only focusing on infrastructure but are also diversifying their investments across various asset classes.
These include domestic and foreign ordinary shares, an array of government securities from both federal and state levels, and a selection of money market instruments, among others.
The investment in infrastructure, however, is a notable highlight, reflecting the PFAs’ role in fostering sustainable economic growth and development.
The commitment of the PFAs to channel pension funds into productive sectors of the economy is a strategic approach that promises to yield long-term benefits for the nation, including the potential for improved public services and job creation.
This investment also aligns with the government’s objectives to enhance the country’s infrastructure and stimulate economic progress.
The National Pension Commission’s report, which also encompasses Approved Existing Schemes, Closed Pension Fund Administrators, and RSA Funds, including unremitted contributions at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) & legacy funds, provides a transparent view of the pension industry’s performance and its pivotal role in the national economy.
The commission had in its amended investment regulation highlighted the requirements for investing the funds in line with the provisions of the Pension Reform Act, 2014.
It said the purpose of the regulation was to provide uniform rules and standards for the investment of pension fund assets.
According to the regulation, pension fund custodians must only take written instructions from licensed PFAs concerning the PFAs’ investment and management of pension fund assets held in the custody of the PFCs on behalf of the contributors.
It said the PFCs, in discharging their contractual functions to PFAs, must not contract out the custody of pension fund assets to third parties except for allowable investments made outside Nigeria.
“The PFC shall obtain prior approval from the commission before engaging a global custodian for such allowable foreign investments,” it said.
According to the regulation, the PFAs, in discharging their contractual functions to contributors, must not contract out the investment/management of pension fund assets to third parties except for open/close-end/hybrid funds and specialist investment funds allowed by the regulation.
CITM supports bill to enhance accountability, reduce errors in financial transactions
The Chartered Institute of Treasury Management (CITM) has praised a proposed bill on Public Finance Management (PFM) reforms, stating that it would enhance accountability and reduce manual errors in financial transactions.
The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) has put forward the bill to provide legal support for PFM and the operations of the Federation’s Treasury.
In a statement released on Monday, the Registrar of CITM, Mr. Olumide Adedoyin commended the integration of cutting-edge financial technologies in the proposed reform. He highlighted that CITM has always been a strong advocate for such reforms and believes that the timing of the OAGF’s move is appropriate.
The CITM’s endorsement of the bill underscores the importance of modernising financial systems and embracing technology to improve efficiency and transparency. If passed, the bill could significantly enhance financial management practices in Nigeria and contribute to the country’s overall economic development.
The registrar said the vision outlined key elements crucial for an effective PFM.
Adedoyin said that CITM can set the benchmark for competence in treasury management roles, ensuring a cadre of highly skilled professionals.
He said that the bill, when enacted into law, would help in the identification, assessment and mitigation of financial risks.
According to him, by adopting international best practices, Nigeria can position itself as a beacon of financial resilience.
“At the heart of the reform lies a commitment to transparent financial reporting and stringent accountability measures.
“By implementing regular audits and disclosures, the government aims to build public trust and safeguard against fraud and mismanagement,” he said.
He said the institute was poised to contribute significantly through a collaborative approach, emphasising technology, risk management and professional development.
The registrar said this would come through collaboration with regulatory bodies and transparency measures, adding that CITM would help shape the legal framework for Treasury reform.
Naira depreciates to N1,164/$ on black market
By Sodiq Adelakun
The Nigerian naira faced further pressure on the foreign exchange (FX) market on Monday, as it depreciated to N1,164 per dollar on the black market. This marks a 1.21 percent decrease compared to the N1,150 per dollar rate on Friday.
The depreciation is a result of the high demand for dollars by individuals and importers who were unable to meet their FX requirements through the official market due to a scarcity of greenback.
Despite a decrease in dollar liquidity on Friday, the naira actually strengthened against the dollar at the Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEM).
The local currency lost 16.88 as the dollar was quoted at N794.89 on Friday as against N956.33, which closed on Thursday at NAFEM, data from the FMDQ indicated.
Willing buyers and willing sellers quoted the dollar at a spot rate of N1,136, the highest and lowest rate of N700 per dollar.
The daily foreign exchange market turnover declined by 28.13 percent to $ 75.82 million on Friday from $105.50 recorded on Thursday.
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