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Banks Fret as Clampdown on Accounts without BVN Draws Near

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Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) operating in the country have started reaching out to their customers, asking them to come and complete the biometric registration process, as the deadline of the Federal High Court’s interim order obtained by the Federal Government to freeze all accounts – corporate and individual – without Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) approaches, according to Daily Times.

 

The development came as the Federal Government said that funds in 46 million bank accounts that have yet to be linked to BVN will likely be temporarily forfeited, just as no fewer than 15 million Nigerians living in the Diaspora with about N3 trillion have kicked against the action.

 

But banks have started sending text messages and electronic mails to customers without BVN as majority of customers affected by the development were mostly those with names mismatch, findings by our correspondent has revealed.

 

Also, customers, who have different names order across banks, were mostly affected, while the number of customers who had no BVN was very small compared to those who had complied with the directive.

 

But contrary to indications that was credited to a Chief Executive Officer of a commercial bank that he and his colleagues will be unable to obey the directive of the Federal Government to forfeit customers funds in accounts without the BVNs have been reaching out to their depositors reminding them of the need to enroll for the BVN exercise.

 

For instance, some banks SMS to their customers without BVN reads: “Dear Customers, Your Acct is *********.Kindly visits any of our branches to enroll for BVN or link your existing BVN via ATMs, website or the through the bank USSD code.”

 

But before now, indications have emerged that a CEO of one of the banks reportedly stated that the directive by the CBN is not feasible.

 

The CEO, who spoke under anonymity, said there are huge holes in the legitimacy of the order given by federal authorities.

 

According to the CEO, “What of a situation where somebody has died and the matter is in administration, what do you want the bank to do? To give government the money and face litigation? “What of Nigerians who are abroad and are still struggling to get their BVNs? What if we send the monies to government and we are sued by the customer(s)? “And the 14-day time frame is very short. Why the rush? Why not give a time frame, maybe till 2018 for people to get their BVNs?

 

Meanwhile, a source from another commercial bank, who was authorized to speak for the bank said: “Prior to this directive, we have been freezing the bank accounts of customers to enable them comply. The customers who are yet to do that are mostly those who have names mismatch problems. This will be resolved soon.”

 

Another tier 1 bank noted that its bank would comply with the CBN directive to freeze accounts and publish names if there was no contrary order within the stipulated period.

 

“We are already taking steps to communicate with customers who had yet to do so”, the source explained.

 

The Federal High court had ordered the banks to disclose the details of all such accounts, their owners and their proceeds in their affidavit of compliance deposed to by their chief compliance officers.

 

It also made an interim order directing the banks to freeze all the said accounts by stopping “ all outward payments, operations or transactions ”pending the hearing of the substantive application seeking the forfeiture of the balances in the accounts to the Federal Government.

 

The banks were also directed to disclose “any investments made with funds from these accounts without BVN in any products. ”

 

Such investments to be disclosed by the banks as directed by the court include “fixed/ term deposits and their liquidation and interest incurred, bank acceptances, commercial papers and any other relevant information related to the transaction made on the accounts”.

 

The court also directed the CBN and the Nigeria Interbank Settlement Systems “to validate the information contained in the affidavit of compliance/disclosure filed by the respective 19 banks” within seven days from the date of service of the orders on them.

 

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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E-Financial

Nigerian Farmers Log on for Cash in Hi-Tech Networks

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It looked like the end had arrived for Adewale Fatai’s chicken farm. Money was running out.

 

Built to house 30,000 chickens, the farm was producing fewer than 2,000 chicks. His family had no funds to lend, and Nigeria’s banks weren’t interested.

 

Instead, he went online.

 

Two years later, Fatai now has 20,000 chickens. Flanked by thousands of chirping birds at his farm in Nigeria’s southwestern Ogun state, Fatai told Reuters that his operation was saved by Farmcrowdy, one of a breed of new peer-to-peer lending companies aiming to match farmers with small investors.

 

Farmcrowdy uses videos and photographs to show off farms to prospective investors, willing to tie up a bit of cash until harvest time and collect a small return.

 

Onyeka Akumah, co-founder and CEO, Farmcrowdy said the company has so far helped 7,000 small-scale farmers receive a total of $6 million from 2,000 investors since it launched two years ago. He said 95 percent of investment comes from within Nigeria.

 

The typical investment starts from around 90,000 naira – $300 – too little to interest many banks but enough to help keep a small farm going until harvest.

Onyeka Akumah, co-founder and CEO, Farmcrowdy

Since taking office in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari has said he aims to revitalize the agriculture sector in Africa’s most populous nation to reduce the OPEC member’s reliance on oil exports and cut down on costly food imports.

 

But local farmers face multiple challenges – from floods, to a lack of electricity to regulate irrigation, to fighting with semi-nomadic cattle herdsmen that has claimed hundreds of lives this year. Most of the tens of millions of farmers work on a subsistence basis and live on less than $2 a day.

 

Farmers complain that they lack the access to affordable loans needed to cover their costs until harvest time.

 

Farmcrowdy and another firm, Thrive Agric, allow investors to choose a farm on the internet and decide how much to invest. They advertise returns of around 12-20 percent for investments in soybeans, maize, tomatoes, poultry and cattle. Investors buy a funding stake and are kept updated on the progress of crops.

 

“One of the primary problems we were trying to solve was solving the problem of access to funds for farmers: giving them the right expertise for them to grow and also linking them to markets,” said Uka Eje, CEO of Thrive Agric, at his office in Abuja.

 

He said some $2.7 million had been raised by 1,670 investors for nearly 10,000 farmers since the company’s launched in 2017. His company provides farmer clients with expertise as well as fundraising, he said.

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Cyber Thieves Raid Banks, Inflict Losses

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Nigerian financial system has been jolted by a lethal development; and that is the growing activities of cyber criminals who work in and outside the system.

 

Website cloing, Identity fraud and Automated Teller Machine (ATM) scams, are now so rampant that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), banks, switching companies, the police and users are having sleepless nights.

 

In 2017, Nigeria was estimated to have lost about $450 million to cybercrimes.

 

The most common today is the fake bank alerts scam which is growing in scope and leaving in its losses in its wake.

 

In this scam, fraudsters pose as potential buyers of goods or services provided by the bank customer and after both parties have agreed on a price, send fake SMS’s indicating they have deposited money into the sellers’ account.

 

The criminals usually count on their target, believing the SMS is real and would not bother to confirm with his/her bank before releasing the goods.

 

There is also website cloning scam where websites of genuine financial institutions are cloned are the scammers using what is known as phishing, the criminals send fraudulent SMSes and emails to victims directing them fake Web sites where they are asked to input sensitive data.

 

In the emails, the criminals had attachments that, when clicked, secretly install “spyware” that can capture personal information and send it to third parties over the Internet.

 

With the information supplied by victims, the criminals successfully broke into the victims’ bank accounts leaving tales of woes and losses.

 

Though the financial institutions are mostly affected by cybercrimes, all other sectors are culpable and assured Nigerians that financial institutions are strictly compelled to adhere to CBN regulations to secure online financial transactions.

Emefiele, CBN Gov.

The CBN, said it is working on modalities for new regulations to stem the rising losses that emanate from cybercrime and technology risk in the financial sector.

 

Mrs. Aishah Ahmad, deputy governor, CBN, said that “There is compelling need to redesign regulations that will address risk that may emanate from the new emerging and increasing modern class of financial firms.”

 

Elsewhere, electronic transaction switching and payment processing companies are building more security layers on top of existing ones to check the activities of the fraudsters.

 

The Police on the other hand said that that the development was being monitored and that the Commission is inviting useful information that would help burst the crime.

 

 

 

 

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E-Financial

Renmoney Emerges Winner Of Microfinance Excellence Award

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(R - L) Yetunde Faulkner, Head of Commercial, Renmoney, receiving Renmoney’s ‘Award for Excellence in Microfinance' from Mohammed Dabai Suleyman, Director, FSS 2020, Central Bank of Nigeria, while Folasade Femi-Lawal, Head, Card Business, First Bank, looks on; at the New Age Banking Summit held in Lagos, recently.

Renmoney, a Nigerian consumer lending company, has emerged the winner of the ‘Award for Excellence in Microfinance Banking’.

 

The award was presented at the 8th edition of the New Age Banking Summit which held at the Lagos Continental Hotel, Victoria Island.

 

Other winners of the evening were: GTBank, Diamond Bank, First Bank, First City Monument Bank, Union Bank and Wema Bank.

 

Receiving the award, Yetunde Faulkner, Head of Commercial at Renmoney, said: “We’ve been working really hard to build more convenient lending solutions for Nigerians so this award will be a huge morale boost for our team!” Yetunde added, “We launched our online loan application process this year to provide loans in under 24 hours and we are looking forward to launching even better solutions in 2019”.

 

For Anisha Ajimani of the UMS Conference, the organisers of the event, Renmoney was an obvious choice for the award because of the company’s focus on technology and customer experience.

 

She said: “The New Age Banking Awards are aimed at honouring organizations that have consistently demonstrated exemplary performance. These will not just recognize the endeavours of the most successful financial organizations, but will also set a benchmark, inspiring other organizations to achieve their own goals”.

 

The theme of the two-day event was ‘Staying Relevant in the Changing Financial Landscape of Nigeria’.

 

It was attended by a wide array of industry experts comprising Chief Information Officers of financial institutions in Nigeria, speaking on various developments and challenges in the digital banking and fintech space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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