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COVID-19: Access Bank Pledges More Support For Businesses

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Access Bank Plc, has reiterated its support for customers whose businesses may have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bank’s Regional Head, North Central and North East, Mr. Adebanji Jimoh, who gave the assurance, said it appreciates its customers and realises that “we exist because our customers exist”.

Speaking at the Access Bank Business Club engagement with customers in Abuja, he said the pandemic had impacted businesses adding that the bank realised the need to interact with customers to know the areas which they could be assisted.

Jimoh said: “And as you know, 2019/2020 and even till now, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of businesses have been challenged.

“So, we decided that we needed an interactive session to take back as to how we can serve them better and to also provide support where the need be because we need to all stay alive to grow and expand together.”

According to him: “So we are looking taking insights into how we can better support their businesses and also make them feel as part of the Access Bank family and that’s the whole idea of the club.”

He stressed that COVID-19 has had significant impact not only in terms of loss of life in some extreme instances but also in relation to market size.

He said that, “What we’ve seen is that most people lost their market and we have to even reschedule a couple of those who have exposure with us to ensure that during this period we suspend interest on loans, give them interest moratorium, just to ensure that they remain in business. So that’s how bad it’s been.”

Jimoh, further expressed confidence that the interaction would embolden customers to be upfront about their issues so the bank could proactively address them.

He added: “So we expect that they also will take the necessary precautions because the pandemic is still here and there are protocols.

“We want to also engage them to make them understand that there’s the need to keep to those protocols and get vaccinated because you have to be alive to do business and that’s why we felt this is important to us.”

He said: “Our message to our customers is to keep faith, observe the COVID-19 protocols and be upfront by their issues so that we can continue to support them and we will grow together.”

However, one of the bank’s MSME customers who attended the event confided in THISDAY that the financial institution’s support to small businesses had been unprecedented adding that it stood by them in difficult times.

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Business

 Nigerians Can Use E-Naira Without Internet, CBN Insists

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has said Nigerians will be able to use e-naira without Internet-enabled phones.

The apex bank which disclosed this in a document with the title ‘Design paper for the eNaira,’ said maximising the value and use cases of the eNaira would depend largely on devices with Internet capabilities.

“The eNaira thus risks further alienating sections of the population who are uneducated, lack exposure and access to internet services or digital devices,” it said.

The document noted that the National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-formal Education estimated that 35 per cent (37.1 million) of the nation’s adult population was illiterate, adding that the CBN risked losing adoption to this segment of the population, PUNCH reported.

“To mitigate this risk, the bank factored in the need for inclusiveness as part of the core design principle of the eNaira. This principle has enabled the bank to focus on simplicity and ease of use, ensuring that Nigerians without Internet-enabled phones can access the service,” the CBN added.

The apex bank said the eNaira would complement existing payment options available via the mobile banking apps, Point of Sale terminals, USSD, quick response code and Internet banking, among other channels.

GSMA, a global industry organisation that represents the interests of mobile network operators, had said in a recent report that 19 per cent of people living in Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African countries did not have access to mobile broadband coverage.

According to the organisation, about 47 per cent (210 million people) in sub-Saharan Africa do not use mobile internet.

In its design paper, the apex bank said to ensure inclusive access while also ensuring the integrity of the financial system, the account-based Central Bank Digital Currency model has been chosen for the eNaira.

The CBN said, “The account-based CBDC model at its core mirrors the progress made on the National Financial Inclusion Strategy which enables access to financial services by leveraging last-mile networks to identify users and to provide banking services through channels such as PoS and USSD.

“With the account-based model, the CBN seeks to enable access by leveraging the existing identity infrastructure in Nigeria such as the BVN, NIN, TIN, etc., to uniquely identify individuals and corporate entities.

“Specifically, identity frameworks such as the NIN will enable access for the financially excluded as they can be uniquely identified, thereby enabling the provision of financial services. These identity systems will help ensure a robust KYC framework positioned to enable access for all Nigerians.”

The CBN added that interoperability between the eNaira and other CBDCs was factored into the design of the eNaira.

It said this would help improve cross-border payments and address issues of dollarisation of the economy.

Visa, a payments company, recently said ease of operating CBDCs would determine the success of digital currencies.

It said, “We believe that for CBDCs to be successful, they must have two essential ingredients: a great consumer experience and widespread merchant acceptance. It means the ability to make and receive payments, regardless of currency, channel, or form factor.”

According to Visa, as the number of digital currency networks increases, the likelihood that consumers, businesses, and merchants are transacting on the same network and utilising the same type of money decreases.

“But interoperability ensures that different networks can communicate and share data with each other,” it said.

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Access Bank Acquires 78.15% Stake In Botswana’s Fifth Largest Bank

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Access Bank Plc has announced the acquisition of 78.15 per cent stake in African Banking Corporation of Botswana Limited.

In a statement released to the Nigerian Exchange Limited and investing public signed by its company secretary, Sunday Ekwochi, the bank said the acquisition would form part of the bank’s linkage point for trade and payments in Southern Africa and the larger Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa region.

According to Access, BankABC is Botswana’s fifth largest bank with sustainable capitalisation and franchise to aid its growth in its local market. The acquisition would provide an opportunity for Access to deploy its digital platforms and product suites to benefit BankABC Botswana’s customers and enable it compete effectively across its core business segments.

The Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank, Dr Herbert Wigwe, said that the acquisition would provide significant synergies through the combination of BankABC Botswana’s “strong retail banking operations” with Access Bank’s wholesale banking capabilities.

“It will also strengthen the quality of earnings through revenue diversification and growth in the corporate and SME banking segments for BankABC Botswana,” he said.

Wigwe added that the combination would take Access a step further in its banking and corporate goals.

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Business

Winners Emerge In UBA Savings Promo

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Pan African financial institution, United Bank for Africa Plc, says it has rewarded its customers in its Bumper Savings Promo in line with its commitment towards prioritising its customers’ financial wellbeing as well as boosting savings culture in Nigeria.

A statement from the bank on Friday said that since it commenced the promo in 2020, over 200 winners had emerged from the initiative that continued to reward loyalty and encourage customers to cultivate savings habit that helped to stay afloat especially during challenging times.

It stated that the promo was opened to account holders of the bank from the six geographical zones in Nigeria, and customers only needed to open a UBA Bumper account and save a minimum of N5,000 in a month to qualify.

“The more multiples of N5,000 they saved, the higher their chances of winning cash prizes and other juicy benefits,” it stated.

According to the bank, the electronic raffle draw, which was the 7th since inception, was witnessed by relevant regulatory bodies including the National Lottery Regulatory Commission and Consumer Protection Council who were on ground to ensure transparency and accountability.

It added that winners that emerged from the draw included Olunwa Ambrose who won the star prize of N2m, Saheed Adediran who, won N1.2m rent for a year; and Adewunmi Sobowale, who won N500,000 shopping allowance.

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