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Agusto & Co. Assigns an “A-” Rating to Linkage Assurance Plc



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Nigeria’s first credit Rating Agency and a pan African leader in credit reports, Agusto & Co. limited whose strong credibility presence and ratings are globally accepted in Nigeria and across the globe has just assigned an ‘A-‘ rating to Linkage Assurance Plc.

The rating assigned to Linkage Assurance Plc (“Linkage” or “the Insurer”) is reflective of an insurer with good financial condition and strong capacity to meet its obligations as and when they fall due.

The rating is underpinned by good capitalisation, good investment return and good liquidity profile. Linkage’s investment in Stanbic IBTC Pensions Limited (the largest pension fund administrator) which accounted for 50% of its investment portfolio has supported the Insurer’s performance and liquidity position.

The rating is however constrained by elevated underwriting expenses, sub-par risk management, concentration in the investment portfolio & investment income, sub-par underwriting performance and the fragile state of the economy.

As at 31 December 2017, Linkage’s shareholders’ funds stood at ₦20 billion, significantly above the regulatory minimum for non-life insurers. Retained earnings also swung to positive territory on account of high profit retention rate. This should pave the way for dividend payment and strengthen relationship with shareholders.

The Insurer prioritises liquid assets in its investment management in a bid to maintain strong ability to meet obligations as and when they fall due. As a result, money market securities which are highly liquid represented about 45.5% of the investment portfolio as at 31 December 2017.

As at the same date, liquid assets accounted for 39.5% of total assets and covered outstanding claims 9.6 times. We consider the Insurer’s liquidity to be adequate for current business risks.

During the financial year ended 31 December 2017, Linkage’s performance in the core insurance business was constrained by high underwriting expenses.

As a result, underwriting profit margin plummeted to 0.1% from 14% in the prior year. The Insurer’s investment income which was bolstered by dividend from Stanbic IBTC Pensions Limited (accrued over two years), augmented the impact of the high underwriting expenses on profitability.

In FY 2017, Linkage recorded post-tax return on average assets (ROA) and post-tax return on average equity (ROE) of 13.3% and 15.8% respectively. While we consider the Insurer’s profitability ratios to be good by industry standard, we are concerned about the vulnerability of income to dividend from an investee company. In the same vein, weak underwriting income remains a rating negative.

The Nigerian Insurance industry has contended with multiple challenges which has been aggravated by the lingering macroeconomic slowdown. As a result, the insurance penetration ratio is below 0.5% and premium per capita is one of the lowest in Africa, according to the Agusto & Co 2018 insurance Industry report.

In spite of growing confidence in insurance products, the appetite of Nigerians for insurance remains abysmal. Nonetheless, potentials for the industry remain strong. Nigeria’s vast economy and population (the largest in Africa) if harnessed could support the insurance industry.

Although the tier- based capitalisation policy has been cancelled, the capital raising exercise by some insurers will increase risk underwriting capacity and spur initiatives to deepen insurance in Nigeria.

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Oluloye, 67-Year-Old Woman Accused of Hacking, Stealing N16m from First Bank



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Wuraola Folashade Oluloye, a businesswoman, has been arrested for allegedly hacking a First Bank Plc account and stealing a customer’s N16.2million.


Oluloye, 67, was Tuesday brought before an Igbosere Magistrates’ Court, Lagos, by the Lion Building Police Division, Lagos on five counts of fraud and fraudulent diversion, according to a charge marked B/33/2019.


George Nwosu, prosecution counsel told the court that the defendant was arrested following a complaint by First Bank through Mr. Solomon Akhanolu, head of the Department of Forensic Auditors.


Nwosu told the court that the defendant committed the alleged offences between last October 16 and December 31, at First Bank’s Agidingbi Branch, Lagos.


The court heard that Oluloye allegedly hacked the account of Emefiele Ogbor, a First Bank customer with account No 3014419974.


She withdrew N16,200,000 and transferred same to her accounts in Stanbic IBTC, Union, Sterling and First banks.


The defendant subsequently withdrew the money from the four accounts and converted it to her use.


First Bank discovered the fraud during an audit and blocked the defendant’s bank account.


But when Oluloye showed up at the bank to make withdrawals, the police were waiting and she was arrested.


Folashade Olukoya granted Oluloye, chief magistrate who pleaded not guilty, N500,000 bail with two sureties in the like sum, among other conditions.


She remanded the defendant in Kirikiri Prison, Apapa Lagos and adjourned till June 24.

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Africa’s FinTech Sector Grows by 60% in 2 years says Disrupt Africa



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Africa’s FinTech sector is growing at a fast pace, with the number of start-ups operating in the space growing by more than 60% in the last two years, while funding has hit new records.

This is according to Disrupt Africa’s Finnovating for Africa 2019: Reimagining the African financial services landscape report, which finds the number of active FinTech ventures across the continent has grown to 491 from 301 in 2017.

According to the report, South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya remain the main three markets, with 141, 101 and 78 active ventures respectively, accounting for 65.2% of Africa’s FinTech start-ups.

“Yet the share of the overall total claimed by these three countries is in decline as the sector spreads across the continent, with FinTech start-ups tracked in 28 African nations. Though the big three markets are growing, the biggest developments are occurring in other markets, with countries like Uganda, Ghana and Egypt in particular seeing their local FinTech spaces explode,” according to Disrupt Africa.

A similar trend can be seen in terms of the type of platforms being rolled out by FinTech entrepreneurs, the company suggests.

Though start-ups in the payments and lending spaces remain the most prevalent, the fastest growth is occurring elsewhere, with the number of start-ups active in areas such as investtech and insurtech, for example, more than doubling in the last few years.

“Meanwhile, there is a marked increase in the amount of companies focusing on two or more distinct types of financial services, as African FinTechs begin to ‘rebundle’ and we see moves towards fully-fledged, all-service digital banks on the continent. This is a process that is quickening as the amount of funding coming into the sector grows. African FinTech companies have raised just shy of US$320-million in funding since January 2015, and last year’s total of US$132.8-million was the best year yet,” Disrupt Africa continues.

Gabriella Mulligan, co-founder of Disrupt Africa, said: “The financial services landscape in Africa is following a very unique trajectory, as compared to other geographies. Most remarkable about this trajectory, is that is it being driven by entrepreneurs and their home-grown innovations. We hope this report affords our readers an interesting insight into the FinTech revolution taking place across Africa.”

Tom Jackson, co-founder of Disrupt Africa, added, “No space has quite the potential impact of the FinTech space when it comes to impact – and profits – in Africa, with start-ups operating such platforms able to significantly address the major issue of financial exclusion on the continent and thus promote development in all sorts of other areas. It is exciting to see the speed at which the sector is developing, therefore, but also heartening to see the signs of maturation and consolidation that will ensure its ultimate success and longevity.”

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Ecobank Emerged ‘Best Retail Bank in Africa’ @ African Banker Awards



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Ecobank has been named Best Retail Bank in Africa 2019 at the prestigious African Banker Awards. The judges were especially impressed by how Ecobank’s state-of-the-art products, services, functionality and constant innovations provide 24/7 convenience, accessibility and affordability to meet the evolving needs and expectations of its customers across 33 African countries, whilst also successfully driving financial inclusion. Ecobank was also nominated for African Bank of the Year in the Awards. The Award ceremony was held last night in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

Ade Ayeyemi, Group CEO of Ecobank said: “We are honored to be recognized as Africa’s Best Retail Bank. This is testament to the success of our digital strategy and pan-African presence as we continue to drive financial integration, inclusive banking and playing a catalytic role in the transformation of Africa.”

“We are constantly innovating to meet the needs of Africans, from our multi-functional Ecobank Mobile App, which has changed banking in Africa, to our KYC-lite Xpress account opening for the unbanked and the under-banked, and our Rapidtransfer App, for cross-border remittances to Africa at minimal or no cost.

“Our Xpress Point agencies further deliver face-to-face banking to thousands in local communities. The traditional banking model is changing and Ecobank will continue to play a pivotal and pioneering role in meeting the banking needs of millions of Africans.”

Nana Araba Abban, Acting Group Executive, Consumer Bank said: “Ecobank is making banking accessible, convenient and affordable, and we are continuing to broaden our innovative range of best-in-class products, services and functionality to enrich our customers’ experience and stay a step ahead of their evolving needs and expectations. To win the prestigious ‘Best Retail Bank’ Award two years running strongly indicates that our strategy and service is working for ever increasing numbers of sub-Saharan Africans across our pan-African footprint.

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