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Fidelity Bank chairman calls for greater board participation in cybersecurity

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Chairman, Board of Directors, Fidelity Bank Plc, Ernest Ebi; President, Governing Council of Bank Directors’ Association of Nigeria (BDAN), Osaretin Demuren; and Partner and Head of Technology Advisory Practice & Markets, KPMG Nigeria; Joseph Tegbe, at the 2019 Bank Directors’ Conference themed ‘Cybersecurity in Banks: The Role of the Board’ held at the Oriental Hotel in Lagos last Thursday.

Against the backdrop of high-profile and sophisticated online attacks on large commercial banks, Directors of listed and private companies in the country have been advised to take active roles in their respective organization’s cybersecurity framework and operations. The Chairman, Board of Directors of Fidelity Bank Plc, Ernest Ebi gave the counsel at the 2019 Bank Directors’ Association of Nigeria (BDAN) Conference on Cybersecurity held in Lagos.

Whilst stating that organisations have become completely dependent on cyber networks to run their processes, Ebi pointed out that Boards need to understand and approach cybersecurity from enterprise-wide risk perspectives rather than Information Technology (IT). He said rapidly evolving data breaches and attacks have caused significant financial and reputational damage to many organisations. “The Board should develop expertise on cyber risk. Cybersecurity must be a constant on the Board’s agenda”, he said.

President, Governing Council of BDAN, Osaretin Demuren recognised the importance of information sharing in tackling the growing menace of cybercrime. Demuren noted that sharing of relevant information amongst stakeholders in the financial services industry would help demystify the activities of hackers and cyber criminals. This, she added will make them less effective in perpetuating their nefarious deeds. “Cyber security is one of the top risks that is being faced not just in the financial sector, but in all sectors of the economy.

“However the impact is more felt in the financial sector, because once you hack into one, all the others are open. So, it is very important that people are aware of cyber risk and the damage it can do to businesses”, She explained. Emphasising the importance of the Board in an organisation’s cybersecurity posture particularly in relation to protecting shareholder value, Partner and Head of Technology Advisory Practice & Markets, KPMG, Joseph Tegbe said the board must do all it can to mitigate risk for consumers and shareholders.

 

Tegbe, in his keynote address, said the Boards should be held responsible and accountable for cyber breaches. “Managing cyber risk should be a Board priority. Boards must develop requisite capacity to ask the right questions from Management”, he explained. He also advised organisations to conduct cybersecurity assessment to help reduce risk, minimize breach impact, and protect against future attacks. “Building cybersecurity capabilities for banks must be strategic. We must be proactive and not reactive”, he added.

The conference themed “Cybersecurity in Banks: The Role of the Board” featured a panel session with cybersecurity experts, who shared their unique perspectives on how the menace of cybercrime particularly within Banks can be nipped in the bud. Some of the panelist include: Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Digital Jewels Limited, Adedoyin Odunfa; Founder, Computer Warehouse Group Plc, Austin Okere; Chief Strategy Officer & Cyber Risk Services Leader, Deloitte West Africa, Tope Aladenusi, amongst others.

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BUSINESS

Q1 2019: Zenith Bank sustains market dominance with improved profitability

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In the first quarter ended 31 March 2019, Zenith Bank Group recorded improved numbers across key metrics, driven by a solid performance in all business segments. This resulted in a Profit before Tax (PBT) of ₦57 billion, representing a 6% growth over the ₦54 billion achieved in the corresponding period in 2018. The Group’s on-going commitment to cost optimisation on the income statement and statement of financial position ensured earnings per share increased by 7% to ₦1.60 compared to Q1 2018.

The growth in net interest income and operating income by 23% and 1% respectively mitigated the decline in gross earnings. The effective management of cost-to-income ratio, cost of funds and cost of risk offset top-line declines to deliver an enhanced operating income in the period.

Our risk and asset quality continues to improve as cost of risk dropped significantly by 52% from 0.9% in the prior year to 0.4% for the period. This was achieved as impairment charges declined by 54% (₦2.5 billion year on year reduction). Our cost of funds also improved, declining by 25% from 4% in Q1 2018 to 3% at quarter-end. This was supported by a 22% decrease in interest expense of ₦10 billion over the same period, affirming the Group’s robust treasury and liquidity management. Our prudent cost management led to a 5% decline in our cost-to-income ratio by 5% from 53.3% in 2018 to 50.9% in the period with an absolute reduction in operating expenses by ₦2.3 billion year-on-year.

The Group’s retail franchise continues to increase as retail deposits grew by N80bn between December 2018 and March 2019 representing a 9% growth notwithstanding the fact that total customer deposits dropped marginally by 3%. The drop in customer deposits was as a result of rebalancing of the deposit mix as expensive purchased deposits were forgone in favour of cheaper and stickier retail deposits.

The volume and value of transactions across our electronic and digital platforms continue to grow as new customers are being acquired. Our balance sheet continues to strengthen as liquidity ratio is at 66.7%, loan to deposit ratio closed at 43%, and capital adequacy ratio ended the period at 25% respectively and remain above the relevant regulatory thresholds as at 31 March 2019.

Going into the rest of the year and with improving economic fundamentals, we are confident of delivering value to all our stakeholders on our commitments even as we create more opportunities for businesses by supporting them through selective risk asset creation. We shall continue our investments in the retail segment of the market as we consolidate our leadership position in the corporate segment while maintaining a strong balance sheet.

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Keystone Bank, others partner Mojec to roll out prepaid meters

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L-R: Head, Personal Banking, Wema Bank Plc – Mr. Abiola Afolayan; Chairman, Mojec International Limited, Mrs Mojisola Abdul; Managing Director, Mojec International Limited, Ms. Chantelle Abdul; Executive Director, Corporate Bank & South Directorate, Keystone Bank Limited, Yemi Odusanya and Group Head, Retail & SME, Unity Bank Plc, Mr. Olufunwa Olugbenga Akinmade at a press conference and signing of the Memorandum of Understanding ceremony between Mojec and the partner banks on the roll out of prepaid meters, held in Lagos on Monday, April 15, 2019.

Mojec Meter Assets Management Company, a subsidiary of Mojec International Limited, has announced partnership with Keystone Bank Limited and other leading banks in Nigeria to provide retail financing for rollout of prepaid meters to its customers within the coverage area of its partner Distribution Companies (DISCOs) across the country.

This is a major step ahead of the commencement of the much-anticipated Meter Asset Providers (MAP) scheme.

The partnership announcement was made at a press conference and Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony held in Lagos on Monday, April 15, 2019 between Mojec and the partner banks. The partner banks include Keystone Bank, Unity Bank, Zenith Bank, Polaris Bank, First Bank, Wema Bank, Sterling Bank and First Option Micro-finance Bank.

MAP is a scheme approved by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) through a regulation meant for the provision, supply, installation and maintenance of end-user meters by Meter Asset Providers with a view to fast-tracking a closure of the metering gap and end estimated billing in Nigeria.

Speaking at the event, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mojec International Limited, Ms. Chantelle Abdul disclosed that the company was determined to bridge the metering gap in the power sector by ensuring provision of top-quality electricity meters to consumers in Nigeria.

“Now that MAP is here, Mojec is once again blazing the trail in the provision of high-end quality pre-paid meters to consumers, helping to reduce the financial burden estimated electricity billing is putting on electricity consumers,” Abdul said, noting that Mojec as a company has invested a lot of resources, positioning it as best suited to meet the metering needs of all consumers within the coverage of its partner DISCOs.

She further explained that Mojec would be partnering with eight DISCOs including, Ikeja Electric, Eko DISCO, Abuja DISCO, Kano DISCO, Enugu DISCO, Jos DISCO, Ibadan DISCO and Kaduna DISCO covering about 20 states of the federation.

In his remarks after the MoU signing, the Acting Managing Director/CEO, Keystone Bank Limited, Mr. Abubakar Danlami Sule, represented by Mr. Yemi Odusanya, Executive Director, Corporate Bank & South Directorate shared the bank’s driving motivation for the partnership. “The importance of energy in the growth of businesses and for the livelihood of homes in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized.

“Energy cost is by all standards the major cost line in most homes and businesses.

“The scheme is set to eradicate the unnecessary prevalence of estimated billing which deprived the national economy of funds which otherwise could be deployed into other productive use.

“We are therefore excited to be part of this initiative to bring electricity to homes and businesses at the most prudent cost, putting households and business in control of their expenditure pattern.” He concluded.

Keystone Bank is a technology and service-driven commercial bank offering convenient and reliable solutions to its customers.

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CBN boosts Forex market with another $210 million

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The interbank segment of the Foreign Exchange Market has received a boost of $210 million from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) following sales concluded on Tuesday, April 16, 2019.

According to figures obtained from the Bank, authorized dealers in the wholesale segment of the market were offered the sum of $100million. Similarly, the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) segment received the sum of $55 million, while customers requiring foreign exchange for invisibles such as tuition fees, medical payments and Basic Travel Allowance (BTA), among others, were also allocated the sum of $55 million.

The Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr. Isaac Okorafor confirmed the transactions and disclosed that the effort of the Bank had helped to reduce exchange rate pressures across all segments of the market. According to him, the stability of the exchange rate underscored the level of confidence investors and the public had in the Naira.

It will be recalled that the Bank, at its last intervention on Friday, April 5, 2019, injected the sum of $247.8 million and CNY34.8 million into the Retail Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS) segment.

Meanwhile, the Naira on Tuesday, April 16, 2019, exchanged at an average of N360/$1 in the BDC segment of the market.

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