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Bitcoin Rallies Above $5,000 to All-time High



Bitcoin smashed through the $5,000 barrier for the first time on yesterday, jumping as much as 8 percent on the day as investors shrugged off the latest warnings on the risks of buying into the booming cryptocurrency market.

Bitcoin, the biggest and best-known cryptocurrency, has chalked up a more than fivefold increase in price this year.

Typically for bitcoin, which at less than nine years old is still highly volatile and illiquid compared with traditional currencies and assets, the precise reason for its recent tear was unclear.

Upcoming splits in its software, reports that Goldman Sachs is considering offering bitcoin trading, rumors that China could ease restrictions, and even a political crisis in Spain’s Catalonia region were all cited by market-watchers as reasons for the rally.

But the main factor could simply be demand from investors wanting ‘in’ on a market that has provided gains exceeding those of any other currency in every year bar one since 2010.

“People are just wanting to be part of it,” said Ryan Nettles, head of FX trading and market strategy at Swiss bank Swissquote, which launched bitcoin trading two months ago. Nettles said interest had been much higher than anticipated and has come from banks, hedge funds and brokers.

“The interest really stems from the media hype,” he added.

On Wednesday Russian President Vladimir Putin warned of the “serious risks” surrounding the nascent market, while Russia’s central bank said it would ban cryptocurrency trading websites.

But that was not enough to put investors off, with bitcoin rallying around 10 percent since then.

Data released last week from SEMrush, a search engine data analytics firm, found the price had a 91 percent correlation with Google searches on bitcoin, suggesting that all news — whether negative or positive — drives up demand, even if bad news can have a temporary negative effect.

Bitcoin almost reached $5,000 at the start of September, but fell back sharply after the head of JP Morgan blasted the cryptocurrency as a “fraud” and as China forced exchanges to close down, sparking fears of a broader crackdown.

But after dipping below $3,000 in mid-September, bitcoin has leapt in value by more than 75 percent in four weeks.

“Bitcoin was designed to operate outside of the influence of governments and central banks, and is doing exactly that,” said Iqbal Gandham, Managing Director at retail trading app eToro, which has seen huge increases in cryptocurrency trading volumes.

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Bank Workers to Down Tools over Mass Sack



Bank workers under the aegis of Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI) have given notice to the Federal Government of their intention to down tools over the recent sack of some of their members.


New Telegraph reported that an official of the association, who disclosed this on condition of anonymity, said the sack of 281 workers by one of the old generation banks, was not justified as it did not align with the Labour Act and Collective Agreement.


To drive home its resolve, the source said the association had forwarded a letter to the Federal Government through Dr. Chris Ngige, minister of Labour and Employment, notifying it of the association’s intention to commence the industrial action beginning with the affected bank on October 24, before inviting other banks to participate.


According to the letter dated October 11, 2017, and referenced ANS/ORG/GO/YOS/338, which was obtained by our correspondent, the association noted that its decision followed previous notice already given to the bank on September 29, after several letters and meetings to enable both parties to resolve the impasse over the workers’ improper lay off.


According to the letter, “We will commence our action by calling on fellow Nigerians to make some withdrawals from their accounts with the bank to enable them to have enough provisions for the period of the industrial dispute. “Also, if there is no quick response, other banks will be called out on sympathy strike by the association.”


In the last one year, over 10,000 workers lost their jobs across all the banks in the country. A recent statistics released by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that 8,663 workers lost their jobs in the first half of 2017. The data showed that an average of 360 people were sacked every week from January to June 2017.


The figures were higher in the first quarter and lower in the second. It was also revealed that while the 8,663 lost their jobs, more contract staff were employed during the period. In the first quarter of 2017, there were 174 executive staff, but the figure reduced to 161 in the second quarter. From 20,483 senior staff in the first quarter, the number dropped to 19,826 in the second quarter.


The drop was larger in the junior staff category where the number dropped to 33,783 in the second quarter from 36,202 in the first quarter. However, the number of contract staff increased from 20,237 in the first quarter to 21,837 in the second quarter. The job losses have continued despite warning by the Federal Government in 2016 that banks should desist from sacking their staff.


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E-PPAN Rallies Stakeholder to Discuss Big Data Analytics in Combating Payment Fraud



By peter oluka

The Electronic Payment Providers Association of Nigeria (E-PPAN) has revealed that discussions at the 8th annual payment systems and fraud conference will focus on ‘Leveraging Big Data Analytics in Combating Payment Fraud’.

The Conference holds on the 7th November, 2017 at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos-Nigeria.

The Annual Payment System and Fraud Conference is E-PPAN’s veritable rallying ground for the financial industry and its ally to deliberate on payment systems and fraud knowledge in Nigeria.

The event brings together senior level officers of the finTech, telcos, banking, regulatory bodies and public offices to brainstorm on the latest trends in electronic payment innovations and learn winning strategies to manage risks and prevent fraud.

E-PPAN hosts the event this year in partnership with key stakeholders in the industry such as: Central Bank of Nigeria, Police Special Fraud Unit, Nigeria Electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF), Committee of e-Banking Industry Head (CeBIH), Committee of Chief Compliance Officers of Banks In Nigeria (CCCOBIN), Information Security Society of Africa-Nigeria (ISSAN) and the Association of Chief Audit Executives of Bank in Nigeria (ACAEBIN).

A statement from E-PPAN reads: “The objectives for this year’s conference are to: Come up with new and proactive ways of fighting against fraud using Data Analytics; Leverage on the use of Data Analytics in an industry collaborative approach to manage and prevent electronic fraud; Set agenda for government and other key stakeholders on the need to synchronize various silos of data to help manage the Nigerian payment landscape”.

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Policy, Regulation Should Bolster Innovation To Ensure Financial Inclusion Is Achieved



Daniel Monehin, division president for Sub Saharan Africa and Lead of Financial Inclusion for International Markets at Mastercard

By Daniel Monehin

Walk through bustling marketplaces in Africa and you will see a substantial amount of money changing hands, as merchants and consumers haggle over the goods and services. What stands out is just how many of these transactions are conducted using cash, and the reason for this is because most people don’t believe they have any other pragmatic option.

There is a large number of unbanked or underbanked people on the continent, and so many individuals that don’t save or have a financial history with a formal financial institution and are therefore found on the fringes of financial services – where most transactions are carried out with cash. What this typically creates is a vicious cycle that serves to prevent most of these individuals from accessing critical financial services to better manage their finances, grow their businesses or protect themselves against eventualities.

Financial inclusion remains a challenge, particularly in developing countries. Only just over 30 percent of Sub-Saharan Africans, for instance, have any formal account. There is a collective focus by both the private and public sector on the need to find ways to bring greater numbers of people into the financial mainstream and improve their livelihoods.

One of the areas that has the greatest potential to narrow the margin of exclusion is policy and regulations. Policy surrounding financial inclusion has garnered considerable attention in the last few years, as the importance of inclusion has been aligned with financial integrity, stability and literacy.

Policy makers face the ultimate juggling act as regulatory frameworks and policies need to find the balance between providing the necessary support that will bring citizens into the formal financial fold while simultaneously ensuring that these requirements do not discourage access to critical financial services by stifling individuals’ abilities to transact.

What is clear is that it is simply impossible to make tangible progress by working in isolation. It takes collaboration between players in both the public and private sectors to bring their specific area of expertise to the table with the view to develop holistic strategies and policies that will enable inclusion.

The good news is that industry stakeholders across the board have largely realised this and joined forces through organisations like the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) to share knowledge and engage to formulate and implement these policies. AFI is led by its members, comprising mainly financial regulatory institutions such as Central Banks, superintendence’s and Ministries of Finance from developing countries. The network currently includes members from 94 countries working together to accelerate the adoption of proven and innovative financial inclusion policy solutions with the ultimate aim of making financial services more accessible to the world’s unbanked. Mastercard is a proud member of AFI and continues to collaborate to ensure open dialogue with focus on building a strong network where solutions can be found.

What has made these platforms so impactful is that the regulators and policy makers understand the unique African context and have been formulating policy solutions that speak to this. Advancing financial inclusion through digital financial services, for example, has been a top priority and continues to dominate the agenda because of the role that mobile money, new tech and innovation are playing in allowing Africans to pay for goods and services safely and easily.

Although mobile money is a global disruptor, its impact has been especially noticeable in Africa, where mobile penetration continues to grow and where it has already proven to be a game changer in terms of providing affordable financial services.

Using a tool that people already hold in their hands means that more people can be connected to an interoperable financial ecosystem at a fraction of the cost – backing this up is the fact that there are nearly 280 million registered mobile money accounts in Sub-Saharan Africa, compared to 178 million bank accounts.

As such, driving policy that supports mobile-based payments as a critical enabler will remain a core focus going forward. But even with mobile and digital finance recognised as an answer of sorts to facilitating financial inclusion, that is only half the battle. There needs to be continuous innovation and advancement in this space to ensure that all Africans have the opportunity to be financially included – and the answer lies in collaboration across the public and private sectors to leverage each other’s strengths.

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