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

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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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E-Financial

CBN Mandates Banks to Settle Customers’ Complaints within Two Weeks

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The Central Bank of Nigeria has directed banks and other financial institutions to settle customers’ complaints on issues of overcharge, unauthorised deductions and other matters within two weeks.

The CBN Head of Complaints Management Division, Mr. Tajudeen Ahmed, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Abuja.

He said the CBN would ensure that bank customers get a redress on issues of excess charges or unauthorised withdrawals.

Ahmed reiterated the apex bank’s commitment to eradicating excess and arbitrary charges.

According to him, the CBN has since issued a circular which could be found on its website, showing all legitimate bank charges.

He said that any charge outside what is stated in the circular is not allowed.

“The consumer protection department issued guidelines to banks dated August 16, 2011, directing all banks and other financial institutions to resolve all customer complaints within two weeks of receipt.

“Before the expiration of that complaint, the financial institution is expected to be engaging the customer on a continuous basis to update him or her on the status of the complaint.

“If it is not resolved within the deadline given, then such a person is encouraged to draw the attention of Central Bank of Nigeria to the complaint,” he said.

Ahmed advised customers with unresolved complaints to contact the CBN by writing to the Director Consumer Protection Department or send an email to cbd@cbn.gov.ng.

He also advised dissatisfied bank customers to visit any branch of the CBN closest to them to make their complaints.

“The CBN continually engages the banks to find out if their conduct and practices are fair to their customers in order to stimulate people’s confidence in the banking system.

“Non-adherence to that normally results to regulatory sanctions, as the case may be,” he said.

Ahmed also faulted banks for setting a limit on ATM withdrawals.

“I have also observed and noted this. Don’t forget that at the beginning, it wasn’t like this. Over time, we started having this problem.

“One of the reasons is that the quantum of N500 denomination is much more than that of N1,000 denomination.

“When we approached the banks about these problems, they said the machines become easily faulty when it is set to dispense up to N30,000 to N40,000 units.

“However, CBN has directed that the machines that allow payment of up to N30,000 to N50,000 should be installed.

“This is still ongoing. The Banking and Payment Department of the CBN is championing it,” he said.

Also, the Head of Consumer Protection Division, Mrs. Hadija Kasim, said bank customers could also avoid some of these issues by inculcating the habit of cashless policy.

She reminded the public that there were various methods to make payments rather than carrying cash.

“Let’s not forget that ATM cards can also be used on Point of Sale (POS) terminals.

“We are encouraging people that unless it is absolutely necessary, they should reduce the carriage of cash.

“Cashless transactions are more convenient, safer and you will avoid the problem of overcharges,” she said.

Kasim also advised bank consumers to use bank transfer channels for transactions in cases where sellers do not have POS.

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Nigerian Bank Investors Lose N100Bn in 2 Days

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Investors with shares in the banking sector on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) have lost over N100.8 billion in two trading days of the week, a report this morning by Vanguard said.

 

It said that while 11 out of the 16 banks in the NSE began losing prices in the market on Monday, the remaining joined by Tuesday, except United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA).

 

The report listed banks that appreciated to include: Access Bank (5 kobo) per share to close at N12.56 per share from N12.60 per share, GTBank gained N1.00 per share to close at N47.50 per share, from N46.50 per share, Fidelity Bank gained (8kobo) per share to close at N3.28 per share from N3.20 per share and Jaiz Bank gained 4 kobo per share to close at N1.04 per share from N1.00 per share.

 

However, during Tuesday trading session, all the banks’ share prices dropped except UBA which gained 20 kobo per share to close at N12.20 from N12.00 per share it closed on Monday.

 

The report blamed the trend on the recent directive by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that restricted dividend payments by banks with high Non Performing Loans (NPLs) and low Capital Adequacy Ratio, CAR from paying dividend to their shareholders.

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SEC, NSE, CSCS Rake N11.430Bn in 2017 from Share Sales

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A total of N11.43 billion accrued as earnings from the sales of shares to the three major players in the Nigerian equities in 2017, according to findings by business a.m.

 

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the market regulator, the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), the market platform provider and the Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS), which provides clearing facilities to facilitate transactions, jointly earned this amount from the sales.

 

The 2017 figures represented an increase of N6.210 billion or119 percent over the amount earned in the corresponding period of 2016, which had stood at N5.220 billion.

 

SEC received 0.3 percent of total value of equity sold by shareholders (seller) as commission, NSE received 0.3 percent of total value of equity bought by shareholders (buyer) as commission less value added tax, while the CSCS, which facilitates the delivery (transfer of shares from seller to buyer) and settlement (payment for shares) of securities transacted on the floor of the NSE received 0.3 percent of total value of equity bought by shareholders (from buyer) as commission less value added tax.

 

Market activities had risen significantly in 2017 with turnover figures showing a 121 percent rise to N1.27 trillion during the year, from N0.58 trillion in 2016.

 

The rise last year reflected a recovery in activities at the bourse from the macroeconomic overhang of a commodity down cycle, pushing it to become the third best performing market in 2017 globally, with a 42 percent return in the NSE ASI index.

 

The three market umpires, namely SEC, NSE and CSCS, each made N3.810 billion from equity sellers in 2017, available data show.

The Nigerian government, which is responsible for collecting stamp duty, also benefited from the increased activities at the Stock Exchange as shareholders paid a total of N1.906 billion as stamp duty to the government.

 

Due to the difference in brokerage commission charge, business a.m. found that stockbroking firms earned between N19.02 billion to N34.29 billion from shareholders during the period. Apart from the commission received from equity transactions, there are other ways through which SEC, NSE and CSCS generate money.

 

Some of the key revenue sources for SEC are fees on government bonds and debentures of public limited companies; processing fees for schemes of merger/acquisition and takeover as well as fines and penalties.

 

The commission is also entitled to application fees for registration of a collective investment scheme at a flat rate of N35,000; filing fee for registration of securities at a flat rate of N10,000; registration fees of securities of public companies (including rights issue); special funds; and processing fees on offer for sale.

 

Also, the NSE generates money from listing fees, broker/dealer fees, fines, among others.

 

Speaking in January at the 2017 market recap and outlook for 2018, Oscar Onyema, chief executive of the NSE attributed the performance in part to Central Bank’s monetary policies that resulted in increased liquidity in the foreign exchange market.

 

He stated that “IPO activity in the year remained mute, however, there were several other positive indicators including the revival of supplementary listings and the return of new issuances. The value of supplementary listings increased by 27 percent, bringing the total value of equity issues in 2017 to N408 billion”.

 

Onyema also said the NSE fixed income market recorded mixed performance. “New bond issuances increased over the previous year, while bond yields gradually moderated from 2016 levels amidst easing inflation and greater FX stability. Yields across various tenors declined between 0.4 percent and 1.5 percent, and market turnover declined by 24 percent in 2017, as investors sought higher returns in alternative product classes.

 

“However, supplementary issuances by the Federal Government saw bond market capitalization increase by 34 percent year-on-year,” he said, adding that, “The NSE’s ETF market witnessed increased activity across key metrics in 2017, recording a 272 percent year-on-year growth in trade volumes, 33 percent growth in turnover and a 40 percent year-on-year increase in market capitalization to close the year at N6.69 billion.”

 

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