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IFC Finds Banks Cut Services in Emerging Markets

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International banks are cutting back on the networks they maintain in developing countries, an unintended consequence of global regulatory reforms that could make it harder for businesses to grow and create jobs in emerging markets, according to a global survey of banks released today by IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group.

Globally, 27 percent of banks surveyed noted declines in their correspondent banking relationships (CBRs) – financial institutions that provide services on behalf of other institutions – forcing them to reduce vital services. The challenge is most critical In Sub-Saharan Africa where 35 percent of banks reported a decline in these essential relationships—a major risk for countries’ economies heavily reliant on imports.

“We are concerned,” said IFC CEO Philippe Le Houérou. “In emerging markets, the business environment has often been challenging for banks and their customers, but a decline in correspondent banking disrupts the financial connections that countries and businesses need.”

Restricting the availability of trade finance, wire transfers, deposits and other services could have a severe impact in developing countries, where they are a lifeline to the wider world.  The WTO estimates the existing global trade gap to be $1.4 trillion, and it exceeds $100 billion in Africa alone, a gap the decline in CBRs will exacerbate further.  An IMF study in April 2017 said the decline in these relationships could undermine affected countries’ long term growth and financial inclusion prospects.

The survey  the first extensive survey of banks in emerging markets on the issue, polled 300 banks active in 92 countries. The institutions surveyed have a total of $5 trillion in assets—roughly 10 percent of all emerging-market banking assets.

Emerging markets banks are having to address multiple sets of new, sometimes conflicting, compliance requirements and are spending large amounts to upgrade their processes, hire staff, and upgrade software. Some 78 percent expected the costs of regulatory compliance to continue to rise, further pressuring their ability to serve their customers with essential services.

Over the past decade, policymakers have taken much-needed steps to bolster the global financial system with new rules against unnecessary risk-taking, money laundering, and terror funding. These reforms will help safeguard the system from future crises. But increased capital standards, rising compliance costs, and the threat of large fines are also leading financial institutions to rethink their cross-border networks, the survey confirmed.

Survey participants identified three solutions that could help address the issue, including greater harmonization of regulatory requirements, a centralized registry for due diligence data, and assistance with understanding and adaption to the new standards as measures. A solution will require multiple stakeholders across the international community to formulate a comprehensive response.

“Trade, economic growth, and the remittances that families depend on are at risk when banking relationships deteriorate,” said Marcos Brujis, Director of IFC’s Financial Institutions Group.

“By working together, multilateral institutions, regulators, and banks can help ensure that necessary reforms don’t create unintended costs for the most vulnerable people.”

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

EcoBank Research: Digital Innovation in SSA Driven by Explosion in Mobile Phone Usage

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By peter oluka

Digital innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa is being driven by the explosion in mobile phone usage, enabling African consumers to leapfrog existing business models and technologies

The 2017 version of Ecobank Research’s Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities (FICC) Guidebook, which provides expert knowledge and analysis on African markets for investors and businesses, was launched today at AfricaFICC.

Indicating a positive outlook for the continent, three key trends are forecast to take hold during the next 12 months.

The first indicates an economic rebound in sub-Saharan Africa driven by a recovery in the region’s economic heavyweights, Nigeria and South Africa, and ongoing growth in the top performers, Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire and (more recently) Ghana.

Growth will be driven by a rise in oil production (notably in Ghana, Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Angola), strengthening infrastructure investment across West and East Africa, and improved weather conditions which bode well for crops.

Strengthening economic activity, plus a moderate improvement in oil and mineral prices, will help narrow the current account deficit, but pressure on SSA currencies will remain.

The second emerging trend points to West Africa’s gas sector becoming a hive of activity in 2018 from Senegal to Angola, with the development of gas pipelines, floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) platforms and major gas field projects.

Governments in the Gulf of Guinea and across West Africa have ramped up efforts to secure gas supply in order to boost domestic power generation and diversify their revenues away from crude oil.

Deregulating the gas market and allowing market-driven gas prices will be key to unlocking further gas infrastructure investment across the region.

The third trend suggests Fintech innovation in Africa picking up speed in 2018 buoyed by a new generation of Africans who are ‘digital natives’. The proliferation of tech hubs across Africa (notably in South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire) will nurture the next wave of African start-ups and help connect them with investors.

Digital innovation in SSA is being driven by the explosion in mobile phone usage, enabling African consumers to leapfrog existing business models and technologies.

African Fintech firms are increasingly driving this innovation, deploying digital tools to build credit profiles for the previously ‘unbankable’, providing electricity to rural households that were previously off the grid, even using artificial intelligence to diagnose health problems remotely.

Edward George, Head of Ecobank Group Research, said: “The digital world moves apace, and so must we. The AfricaFICC website is a key way that we can deliver our regional market analysis and expert local knowledge of 41 African markets – which is often hard to access – to a much wider audience. We think these three trends are strong evidence that Africa has weathered the storms of late and is very much on track for improved growth in 2018.”

The Ecobank Research Centre is dedicated to providing the highest quality research for clients to help them navigate the complex African marketplace

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Court Modifies Orders Freezing Accounts without BVN

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A Federal High Court in Abuja Wednesday modified the order it made on October 17 this year for interim freezing of bank accounts who owners have not registered for the Bank Verification Number (BVN)

 

The court, which had stayed further operation of such accounts pending the determination of a case pending before it, has now said the accounts could be operated once the owner registers for BVN.

 

Justice Nnamdi Dimgba announced the modification Wednesday after parties in the case agreed that as presently couched, the order creates an awkward and unfortunate result such that even when account owners have got their BVN, they still will not be able to operate the accounts because doing so will be in violation of the order of court.

 

Parties in the case also agreed that the said Relief No 4 should be revised to eliminate this problem, in the interim.

 

In a ruling, Justice Dimgba said: “Having listened to all counsel on record, and with the consent of all parties represented, I hereby revise Relief No 4 of the court’s order of 17/10/17 such that the new Relief No 4 shall be:

 

“AN INTERIM ORDER of the Honourable Court stopping all outward payments, operations or outward transactions (including any bill of exchange) in respect of the accounts pending the linking of the accounts to a Bank Verification Number”.

 

In view of the above agreed compromise revision of Relief No 4, I also hereby revoke and set aside Relief No 5 of the Court’s Order of 17/10/17, which provides for:

 

“AN INTERIM ORDER of forfeiture of the monies in the said accounts without BVN to the Claimants/Applicants being accounts with insufficient Know Your Customer (KYC) guidelines contrary to Section 3 of the Money Laundering Act, 2011 and CBN guidelines the determination of the Originating Motion on Notice,” the judge said.

 

As as yesterday, none of the 19 commercial banks listed as defendants in the suit complied with the court’s order that they provide information about accounts without BVN in their custody.

 

They only filed a motion challenging the court’s jurisdiction.

 

Earlier in the proceedings, lawyer to 18 of the 20 banks listed as defendants in the suit, A. A. Adegbonmire (SAN) said his clients have filed an application, challenging the court’s jurisdiction to have made the order of October 17.

 

He said the plaintiffs served him with their response yesterday, which he needed time to react to.

 

Adegbonmire urged the court for an adjournment, which was not objected to by Joseph Tobi (for the plaintiffs).

 

The judge consequently adjourned further proceedings to December 11.

 

The Federal Government and the Attorney General of the Federation had filed the suit, querying among others, the continuous retention of accounts without BVN by banks.

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Path Solutions Emerged ‘Best Islamic Technology Provider’ @ IFN Awards 2017

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Path Solutions, a leader in banking software systems with a strong focus on the Islamic banking sector, has won the ‘Best Islamic Technology Provider’ award at the 2017 Islamic Finance news Awards. The company is winning the award for the tenth successive year and eleventh time in total.

Instituted by REDmoney – a leading global provider of specialized Islamic financial media services across three core divisions of publishing, events and training, IFN Awards is one of the most prestigious awards and highly recognized by the global Islamic finance community.

The IFN Polls was established in 2005, and continue to be an apt representation of the current Islamic financial landscape.

Speaking on the award, Mohammed Kateeb, Group Chairman & CEO, Path Solutions, said: “It’s an absolute privilege to be voted as ‘Best Islamic Technology Provider’ one more time at the IFN Service Providers Poll 2017. We especially thank our clients and partners for their continued trust and support.

They’ve made an informed choice in adopting our state-of-the-art Islamic core banking system that will enable them to add further value to complying with industry regulations, improving their management processes and service delivery.

We are again at a pivot point where new technologies are creating new paradigms that will change the shape and face of our industry along with opening up new vistas for the global financial world”.

Kateeb then added, “Path Solutions provides the power of digital transformation, enabling the unbanked to access financial services, improve their lives and secure a better future for them. Our strategy toward 2018 is driven by the ambition to become our clients’ trusted partner in digital life, creating long-term value for them.

We will allow them to be ahead of the curve by implementing a digital-first strategy, leveraging new technologies such as big data, advanced analytics, a 360-degree view of the customer and a personalized engagement, thus providing instant fulfillment to their customers.

In today’s increasingly digital world, failing to invest in and prioritize technology will come at a cost. We believe it’s time to move into the future”.

The prestigious IFN Awards are based solely on merit, and highlight key players, individuals and innovative firms who have provided the Islamic financial world with ground-breaking initiatives.

The award underscores Path Solutions’ momentum to maintaining a leadership position for more than two decades in the evolving Islamic financial marketplace, and the company’s critical role in pioneering industry-specific software solutions and services that are required for its sustainable growth.

“Announcing the IFN Service Providers Poll nominees is always exciting. The special awards honor and celebrate the outstanding annual contributions of those who are the backbone of the Islamic finance community”, commented Lauren McAughtry, Group Managing Editor, REDmoney Group.

“Path Solutions’ leadership and business model promote continuous innovation and impactful growth. Their hard work and commitment is vital to ensuring a technologically-standardized Islamic finance industry”, she said.

In a turbulent year that had its ups and downs — from the geopolitical tensions in the GCC and the ongoing effects of the US elections to giant debut sovereign issuances and oil prices bouncing back — the Islamic finance industry has sailed through successfully.

The IFN Awards recognize and reward the wide range of essential building blocks behind the scenes working to support the Islamic finance industry as it grows ever upwards. This year’s survey has seen a substantial swing with the received votes representing a rock solid review of the real state of the industry and the views of its participants.

The recipients of the IFN Service Providers Poll 2017 will be presented with their awards at a dinner ceremony held alongside the inaugural IFN Global Leaders Forum on 11th March 2018 in Dubai, and the Asian dinner ceremony on 19th March 2018 in Kuala Lumpur.

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