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Excitement as Nigeria, China sign $2.5bn currency swap deal

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Wednesday announced the execution of a $2.5 billion bilateral currency swap agreement with the Peoples Bank of China (PBoC) to boost local currency liquidity in the economy.

CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, led the Nigerian delegation to sign the agreement on behalf of the federal government, while PBoC Governor, Yi Gang, led the Chinese team at a ceremony in Beijing, China, at the end of negotiations on Friday, April 27.

A statement by the CBN spokesperson, Isaac Okorafor, said the transaction valued at Renminbi (RMB) 16 billion was to provide adequate local currency liquidity to Nigerian and Chinese industrialists.

The deal, which would also assist other local businesses by reducing the difficulties they encounter in the search for third currencies.

Mr Okoroafor said the agreement would provide Naira liquidity to Chinese businesses as well as provide RMB liquidity to their Nigerian counterparts in return, to improve the speed, convenience and volume of transactions between the two countries.

Bilateral trade volume between Nigeria and China grew by 30 per cent from 2016 to about $12.3 billion between January and November 2017, Deputy Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Lin Jing, said.

Describing Nigeria as the biggest Chinese investment destination in Africa, Mr Jing said the country was also the second largest export market and the third largest trading partner to China in Africa.

With the significant presence of Chinese firms in the Nigerian economy in recent times, most of the companies handing various infrastructural projects for the government have had to struggle with funding to complete them.

The currency in circulation as at March 31 according to CBN was N2.039 trillion.

The swap deal is expected to assist both countries in their foreign exchange reserves management, enhance financial stability and promote broader economic cooperation between the two countries, Mr Okoroafor said.

“With the operationalisation of this agreement, it will make it easier for most Nigerian manufacturers, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and cottage industries in manufacturing and export businesses to import raw materials, spare-parts and simple machinery to undertake their businesses.

“They will take advantage of available RMB liquidity from Nigerian banks without being exposed to the difficulties of seeking other scarce foreign currencies, which attract higher interest rate charges,” he said.

The CBN spokesperson said the deal, which is purely an exchange of currencies, would also make it easier for Chinese manufacturers seeking raw materials from Nigeria to obtain Naira from banks in China to pay for imports from Nigeria.

“Indeed, the deal will protect Nigerian business people from the harsh effects of third currency fluctuations. With this, Nigeria becomes the third African country to have such an agreement in place with the PBoC,” he said.

Mr Emefiele and his Chinese counterpart expressed delight at the conclusion of negotiations and signing of the agreement, saying it would boost mutually beneficial business transactions between Nigeria and China.

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Microsoft 4Afrika partners FirstBank to support SMEs  

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On 18 January 2019, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, together with Microsoft 4Afrika, will host a free-to-attend event for SMEs in Nigeria, designed to promote technology adoption and skills development.

The event will serve as an official launch of the new partnership between Microsoft 4Afrika and FirstBank, following a memorandum of understanding signed earlier in June 2018. The partnership seeks to build the capacity of local SMEs andaccelerate their digital transformation, by providing them with exclusive and tailored non-financial solutions. Participants will be exposed to skills development resources, access to business networks and an educational platform.

According to Taiwo Shonekan, Head Customer Experience and Value Management, First Bank of Nigeria Limited: “This partnership with Microsoft enables us to deliver a portfolio of non-financial solutions to our SME customers. We have over the last 125 years supported SMEs in building their business, whilst contributing to the national economy. This partnership is a landmark step in our quest to leverage the influence of technology in businesses, especially in today’s digital age.”

“With this partnership, FirstBank customers can buy Microsoft products at discounted rates in the local currency – the naira – as this seamlessly aids technology adoption, skills and capacity development among SMEs in Nigeria,” she adds.

Amrote Abdella, Regional Director of the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative and the keynote speaker for the event says: “For SMEs, integrating technology into their operations is no longer an option, but a necessity for future growth and success. We’re looking forward to engaging in discussions that explore how technology can extend reach to new markets and improve productivity, which results in better customer service, more competitive offerings and the ability to act with agility.”

Across the continent, Microsoft 4Afrika is forging partnerships with several players in the SME ecosystem – from banks to telcos – to enhance SME offerings and reach a broader audience.

“Technology and the relevant digital skills today play such an integral role in business success. We’re working with organisations to extend this support to as many SMEs as possible, ensuring not only their success, but the growth and competiveness of our continent in an increasingly digital world.”

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Access Bank, Diamond Bank to unveil new identity after merger

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The corporate identity of Access Bank Plc may have to change after the conclusion of its merger with Diamond Bank Plc in June 2019, Mr Herbert Wigwe and Mr Uzoma Dozie, CEOs of Access Bank and Diamond Bank respectively hinted in Lagos recently

While addressing customers of the financial institution, Mr Dozie said Access Bank will retain its name after the merger, while Diamond Bank will definitely lose its.

However, he disclosed that the new corporate identity of the new enlarged bank will reflect individual identities of the two merging lenders.

Late last year, Diamond Bank, a tier-1 one lender and Access Bank, a tier-2 financial institution, confirmed that they were coming together to become one.

This came after both companies had initially denied media reports that they were planning such move.

At the customer forum in Lagos, Mr Dozie, while responding to a question on whether the enlarged bank will have a new name, said, “I believe that the name will be Access Bank, but the identity will be the one that is recognised by both Access Bank and Diamond Bank.

“So, it will be……just as we have come here today to inform you of what we are doing and get your feedback, we are also going to have a customer forum to help us decide what is the best identity that when people see, they will say this is Diamond Bank, this is Access Bank.”

Giving more insight into Mr Dozie’s point, Mr Wigwe said, “Let me just add to that point, if you go to global banks like Barclays Bank and HSBC that have gone through mergers and acquisitions, you can keep an identity, but you can also make sure you reflect the identity of the different institutions and what they do.

“So, the retail will look like what you see in Diamond Bank so you don’t lose your connection; that is how it happens.

“If you look at the corporate logo and how things will come out, you will not see that you’ve not lost anything.

“Same thing for Access Bank customers, because you know we were also at the corporate end. We also have to be mindful of these customers as well.

“So, we have to do something that will sit nice for Access Bank customers and also sit nice for the retail business of Diamond Bank.”

At the moment, Access Bank logo has ‘access’ written in white colour on a blue background strip with three orange colour ‘>’ sign placed at the end of the word (access>>>).

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UBA Customers win N30m in Wise Savers promo, N90m still up for grabs

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Group Executive, Digital & Consumer Banking, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Anant Rao; Officer, Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Abideen Onifade; Executive Director, UBA Plc, Liadi Ayoku; Regional Head Lagos, UBA Plc, Aminat Tunji-Akinwande; Head, Retail Liabilities, UBA Plc, Tomiwa Sotiloye; and Marketing Monitoring and Enforcement Officer, National Lottery Regulatory Commission, Nwanneka Ezeani, at the First Quarter Draw of UBA Wise Savers Promo where 20 Savings Account Holders won N1.5m each, in Lagos on Tuesday

Pan-African financial institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc has rewarded 20 loyal customers with N1,500,000 each, in the first edition of its quarterly draw for the ongoing UBA Wise Savers Promo, which was held at the bank’s headquarters in Lagos on Tuesday.

At the event, a total of N30,000,000 was won by 20 lucky customers who were selected following a draw that was witnessed by key regulatory officials including representatives of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission, (NLRC); Lagos State Lottery, Board, (LSLB) Consumer Protection Council (CPC) as well as members of the media.

To qualify for the draws, new and existing customers of the bank are expected to save at least N10,000 each month for three consecutive months, or N30,000 for 90 days in the  promo, which will run for the rest of the year. Apart from the N30 million won by 20 customers on Tuesday,  another N90 million is still expected to be won by 60 more loyal customers in the remaining three quarters of the year.

The winners, who cut across all regions of the country, are: Nnadumije, Ebube Dawn; Onwochei Christiana Okwukwe; Eze Mathias Nnaji; Christian N Orie; Uka, Okwudiri; Okata Stephen Uche; Okafor Onyinye Esther; Nwanekezi Chimezie Jude; Ayomide V Yahaya and Olanegan, Oyetunde Keji.

Others are Emmanuel Onu Chidozie; Mohammed Fatima; Aminu, Mustapha; James Nanre; Pahinti Albert; Emmanuel O Adeniji; Jaki Movihinze Mercy; Saminu Muritala Mohammed; Ezeh Raphael Uballa; Uchenna Iheji.

When contacted on the phone, one of the 20 lucky winners; Nnadumije, Ebube Dawn, excitedly  expressed gratitude to the bank and said he was happy to be a customer of the bank. He thanked the bank, and said the move was thoughtful and will help to enrich customers especially during these trying economic times.

The Group Executive, Digital and Consumer Banking, Mr. Anant Rao, who addressed participants at the event, said the promo was launched as part of the bank’s initiatives towards prioritising customers. He added that customers who save consistently would be rewarded in order to promote the financial inclusion initiatives of the bank.  ‘We believe it is time we rewarded our customers who have been very loyal over the years. Without them, we would not have made the giant strides attained thus far’ .

According to Rao, “Because our customers are invaluable to all that we do, we listen and give them nothing short of the best that they deserve’

“We remain committed to consistently improving customer service and rewarding our loyal customers. The Wise Savers Promo seeks to compliment current initiatives aimed at growing savings,” he noted.

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