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ACCESS BANK REFUTES CLAIM OF GROUP MANAGING DIRECTOR’S ARREST

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Foremost financial institution, Access Bank Plc has refuted the alleged arrest of its Group Managing Director, Herbert Wigwe by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In a statement signed by Sunday Ekwochi, Company Secretary Access Bank, he maintained that the commission had invited for interrogation officials of Access Bank who were handling the Bank’s recovery efforts on Slok credit including its Group Managing Director

The statement reads “Our attention has been drawn to a trending report on social media regarding the alleged arrest of Mr. Herbert Wigwe, the Group Managing Director of Access Bank Plc (Access Bank) by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (“the Commission”

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“We wish to state that the issue essentially relates to the credit facilities that were availed Slok Nigeria Limited (“Slok”) by the defunct Diamond bank Plc (“Diamond”) and which were secured by Slok’s assets charged to Diamond. Access Bank had inherited the Slok credit following the recent merger of Diamond with Access Bank.

“Given the differing interest of the Commission and the Bank on the assets of Slok deriving from the court’s recent judgment on Slok, the Commission had invited for interrogation officials of Access Bank who were handling the Bank’s recovery efforts on Slok credit including its Group Managing Director.

“Following fruitful engagement between the Bank and the Commission, we are of the opinion that the issues relating to Slok investigation have been resolved.

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“As an institution built on best practice, we wish to assure our esteemed stakeholders that the Bank will continue to conduct its business in line with extant laws and relations.”

The Bank recently expanded its digital lending portfolio, which gives Nigerians quick and 24/7 access to funds for emergencies without any collateral, has hit a record N1billion daily in loan value. Access Bank’s digital loans are accessible 24hours, 7 days a week service and can be accessed via the short code *901*11#.

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FIRSTBANK WINS BEST MOBILE BANKING APP AND FASTEST GROWING RETAIL BANK AWARDS

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FIRSTBANK

First Bank of Nigeria Limited has been named 2019 “Best Mobile Banking App” and “Fastest Growing Retail Bank” winner  by Global Business Outlook. The Global Business Outlook Award recognises and rewards excellence in business in companies across the world, both in the public and private sectors. The award rewards innovation, creativity and the drive to create value.

FirstBank earned the Fastest Growing Retail Bank recognition because of its leading role in promoting financial inclusion in the country, a drive which has resulted in its 44,000 Agent Banking network designed to complement the provision of bespoke financial services at its over 750 branches nationwide.

It also won the Best Mobile Banking App award thanks to its Firstmobile banking app’s capability at performing a wide range of financial transactions in a safe, adaptable, futuristic and efficient manner. The user friendly app is widely renowned for its ease of navigation and state of the art security features to mitigate risk against fraud.

In the course of 2019, FirstBank bagged numerous awards across various areas of its business operations. The awards comprise Women Empowerment Category – Sustainable Banking Awards by CBN Bankers Committee, Best Private Bank in Nigeria 2019 by Global Finance Magazine and World Finance Magazine respectively; Best Process Automation Initiative, Application or Programme by Asian Banker International Excellence in Retail Financial Services; Best Banking Brand Nigeria 2019 by Global Brands Magazine; Best Retail Bank in Nigeria by Global Banking and Finance Review and Asian Banker International Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards respectively; Cashless Driver: Highest Volume in Bill Payments and Highest Transaction Volume in Real-Time Payments by CBN Electronic Payments Incentive Scheme (EPIS) – Efficiency Awards; Long Service Corporate Award by Nigerian Economic Summit Group; Best Financial Inclusion Program – Nigeria 2019 and Bank of The Year – Nigeria 2019  by International Investor, amongst many others.

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Speaking on the awards, Folake Ani-Mumuney, the Bank’s Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications said, ”We appreciate the recognition of these awards by the respective awarding bodies. The awards are dedicated to all our customers across the globe as their continued patronage of our services is appreciated. We remain steadfast and would not rest on our laurels at rendering bespoke financial services tailored to meet the financial needs of our valued customers, irrespective of where they may be.”

 

About FirstBank

First Bank of Nigeria Limited (FirstBank) is the premier Bank in West Africa with its impact woven into the fabric of society. The Bank which has been sustaining its development-oriented services for over 125 years as the region’s foremost financial inclusion services provider, offers a comprehensive range of retail and corporate financial services through more than 44,000 business outlets to over 17 million customer accounts.

As a national icon and an international player, FirstBank is one of the most enduring financial services brands in Africa with international footprints extending through its subsidiaries, FBN Bank (UK) Limited in London and Paris, FBNBank in the Republic of Congo, Ghana, The Gambia, Guinea, Sierra-Leone and Senegal, as well as a Representative Office in Beijing.

FirstBank has been nimble at promoting a digital economy in Africa and has issued over 10 million cards, the first bank to achieve such milestone in Nigeria. FirstBank’s financial inclusion and cashless transaction drive have resulted in over 228 million users on its USSD banking service through the nationally acclaimed *894# banking service and over 3.4 million users on its Firstmobile platform.

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Since its establishment in 1894, FirstBank has consistently built relationships with customers, focusing on the fundamentals of good corporate governance, strong liquidity, optimised risk management and leadership. Over the years, the Bank has led the financing of private investment in infrastructure development in the Nigerian economy by playing key roles in the Federal Government’s privatisation and commercialisation schemes. With its global reach, FirstBank, one of Africa’s most sustainable financial services brands, provides prospective investors wishing to explore the vast business opportunities that are available in Nigeria, an internationally competitive world-class brand and a credible financial partner.

FirstBank has been named “Most Valuable Bank Brand in Nigeria” six times in a row (2011 – 2016) by the globally renowned “The Banker Magazine” of the Financial Times Group; “Best Retail Bank in Nigeria” for eight consecutive years (2011 – 2018) by the Asian Banker International Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards and “Best Bank in Nigeria” by Global Finance for 15 years. Our brand purpose is to always put customers, partners and stakeholders at the heart of our business, even as we standardise customer experience and excellence in financial solutions across sub-Saharan Africa, in consonance with our brand vision “To be the partner of first choice in building your future”. Our brand promise is to always deliver the ultimate “gold standard” of value and excellence. This commitment is anchored on our inherent values of passion, partnership and people, to position You First in every respect.

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2020: E-COMMERCE TRENDS THAT WILL REDEFINE THE SECTOR

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The future of e-commerce is both exhilarating and daunting for players in the sector, depending on how receptive they are to the dynamic nature of the sector. With the current outlook for 2020, the market is growing rapidly and there are changes that will help businesses grow while there are also new challenges that some businesses may possibly not keep up with.

However, despite these challenges, there are definitely opportunities to look out for. For instance, according to Statista, the global e-commerce retail revenues are projected to grow to $6.54 trillion by 2023 as against the 2019 worldwide e-commerce sales of $3.53 trillion. Players in the sector will profit from the various trends, which are potent to transform the e-commerce sector in Nigeria into a profit-making venture.

The rise and rise of mobile shopping

According to the 2019 Jumia Mobile Report, 85% of the Nigerian consumers on the platform shopped via their mobile devices that is via mobile web and the Jumia mobile App. This is rather unsurprising because at the end of 2018, there were over 5 billion unique mobile subscribers across the globe, and 60% of the connection was through mobile devices, according to GSMA, 2019. Internet users peaked at 3.6 billion. Locally, there were over 172 million Nigerians (87% penetration of the Nigerian population) who had access to mobile devices, whereas only 112 million Nigerians had access to the internet. While the number of mobile/smartphone users might have increased year-on-year, its penetration is still very insignificant. Internet connectivity and the availability of affordable smartphones continue to drive an increasing uptake of mobile shopping. The year 2020 will witness the entrance of new, affordable mobile devices and, the government’s efforts to expand the reach of the internet through the various mobile operators, will further drive increased mobile shopping.

Voice commerce will be on the rise

A 2017 data show that about 13% of U.S smart speaker owners say they make purchases by voice; the numbers are projected to grow to 55% by 2022 according to OC and C Strategy. In the U.K alone, the total spend on voice shopping has increased. However, in Nigeria Google trends show that the interest in voice commerce has not generated any substantial data but the number of people verbally describing the products they want to purchase rather than browsing about the product has increased, and this is becoming a trend. The fact that other countries are growing in this aspect is a major reason to latch on this. E-commerce players in Nigeria should look for ways to integrate voice commerce in their respective platforms.

E-commerce platforms doubling as an advertising platform for businesses

The number of unique visitors on most e-commerce platforms is enormously huge. Although, while not all of them visit the platforms to order an item, most of them use the prices listed on the platforms as a benchmark for validating price difference in offline stores. For instance, during the 2019 Black Friday, Jumia recorded over 100 million unique visitors and over one billion page views during the one month campaign. The increasing number of traffic being witnessed daily on e-commerce platforms presents a compelling case for monetizing this huge advantage. Many advertisers are seeking for innovative ways to reach their target audience, and leveraging e-commerce platforms with reach across the continent will deliver on such objective. Just recently, Jumia announced that its platform will now be available to businesses to advertise their products and services. In fact, according to the company’s CEO, Juliet Anammah, the advertising initiative is one of the strategic levers of growth for the company in 2020.

Therefore, e-commerce platforms are expected to play big in online advertising as it provides significant opportunity to grow core offerings and profitability. Alibaba has already become the market leader in digital advertising in China. Amazon is estimated to have generated huge ad revenue. Jumia is building a robust online advertising to help other businesses manage their ads, reach more buyers and increase sales.

Brick & Mortar stores will continue to shrink, as most of them will embrace online

It is important for retailers to keep in mind that the digital channels already play a role in consumers’ buying decision and thought process. A significant percentage of offline shoppers use their mobile devices in-store to look up products and read reviews. Customers research products online before making it into the actual store. Shopping online is far more convenient and quicker. There are more sales, no lines, and there is far more selection. Brick and mortar retail outlets will continue to shrink unless customers have very good reasons to visit a store in person.

More SMEs and big brands will leverage e-commerce to drive growth

As businesses expand beyond their local markets, both big, small and medium-size businesses are expected to leverage e-commerce for growth in 2020. Big and small businesses will increase the use of e-commerce to boost conversion, create a personalized customer experience, use data for deeper insights, cross-sell to existing customers and leverage discounts to increase sales.

Extension of logistics services to third party

Fast and on-time delivery of products to customers will continue to play a major role in e-commerce. However, to address infrastructure challenges such as logistics, large network of leased warehouses, pick up stations for customers and drop off points for merchants will form a trend in 2020. E-commerce platforms will extend their services to third parties in 2020 to address critical infrastructure issues. Technology, innovation, partnerships and collaboration will play a key role in addressing logistics challenges in order to stay competitive and profitable. Beyond delivering items purchased on its platforms, e-commerce giant like Jumia will open up its logistics services to the public. This is the first time that Jumia will be providing logistics and delivery services to people other than the shoppers on its platform.

Fintech will overtake Payment on Delivery

While most online shoppers in Nigeria still prefer payment on delivery, this is expected to reduce drastically by the end of 2020 because the rise of Fintech is changing the narrative. More and more online shoppers are starting to develop trust in online payment. A recent report by Jumia shows that this development will grow bigger in 2020. According to the Jumia Q3 Financial Report 2019, over 30% of the transactions on Jumia was done through JumiaPay, its payment platform. Over a year ago, payment on delivery was the preferred option for most consumers. This clearly is an indication that the trust issues around security and safety of consumers’ data and money are clearly disappearing gradually. According to predictions, the company’s payment platform might become its cash cow in years to come.

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Africa Needs Massive Capital Investment in Power, Human Resources to Drive Economic Growth – Elumelu

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The Chairman, United Bank for Africa(UBA), and Founder, Tony Elumelu Foundation, Tony Elumelu has advocated massive private capital investment as well as increased support to youth development as catalysts for driving the much needed economic growth on the continent.

 

Elumelu said this while speaking on a panel at the  UK-Africa Investment Summit 2020, in London. He stressed the need to invest in critical sectors of the economy such as electricity and human resources, noting that this will galvanise the continent, taking into consideration the huge population which Africa currently boasts of.

According to Elumelu, “Africa needs massive private capital investment to enable us drive the sectors that will develop the economy, especially sectors like power. Access to electricity is very critical if we are to develop our continent. We have a huge youth population in Africa and I think that is our biggest resource as a continent. So, in order to talk about the development of our continent, we must prioritise this segment and focus on how to empower them.

 

“Empowering the youths will help us create jobs and alleviate poverty and I think that this empowerment must start from creating an enabling environment, from making sure we have roads, mass transportation systems and most importantly, fixing the problem of shortage of electricity on the continent.  If we do all of this, we will unleash the enormous potential that resides in Africa and in these young people.”

Through his foundation, the Tony Elumelu Foundation, (TEF), in the past 5 years, over 9,600 youths have been empowered across the continent with seed capital, mentoring and networking to grow their businesses and enable them contribute to economic development.

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Throwing more light on what TEF has been able to achieve, he said, “During lunch, I interacted with some alumni of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship programme who said they were beneficiaries of $5,000 support in 2015 from the TEF, and today, they have just completed raising U$3million becoming one of the biggest food chain providers in Rwanda. These are some examples of what such interventions can do. We support, give them an enabling environment, provide a platform and think of our prosperity in a sustainable fashion,” Elumelu explained.

Other speakers on the panel include the President of the World Bank Group, Mr. David Malpass; the Chief Executive Officer, Development Partners International, Ms Runa Alam; and the Group Chief Executive Officer, Vodafone Group, Mr Nick Read.

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On his part, the World Bank President, Malpass, spoke of more focus on digital financial services, stating that investing in Africa will help to take the continent to another level, adding that there is need for more availability of electricity and good trade policies that will boost businesses on the continent.

The UK Africa Investment summit 2020 which was opened by the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, for the first time ever, brought together African heads of states, business leaders and investors, to discuss future partnerships between the UK and African nations. Africa has many suitors he posited. ’The United Kingdom is who you should be doing business with. We have no divine right to this business, it is a competitive world but look  at what the UK has to offer. We are the partner of choice, of today, tomorrow and decades to come’ said Johnson as he addressed the African presidents and business leaders

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