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Naira Steady as IMF Upgrades Nigeria’s Growth Outlook

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By Lukman Otunuga, FXTM Research Analyst,

A sense of caution lingered across financial markets after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut its global economic growth projection for 2019, to 3.3% from 3.5%.

Risks revolving around US-China trade talks and Brexit have played a leading role in the IMF’s decision to downgrade growth forecasts to their lowest rate since the financial crisis of 2008. Growth forecasts for sub-Saharan Africa this year were also trimmed, to 3.5% from the 3.8% set last October.

Interestingly, the IMF upgraded Nigeria’s growth forecast this year, to 2.1% from the 2.0% forecast made in January. With the nation on a mission to diversify away from Oil reliance and macroeconomic conditions stabilizing, the outlook remains encouraging. With no major economic reports expected from Nigeria this week, the Naira and local stock markets may be influenced by external drivers.

A busy day ahead for the Dollar

The US Dollar may react to some near-term catalysts in the form of the pending March US inflation print, the minutes from last month’s surprisingly dovish Fed meeting that are scheduled for release later today, and Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s speeches over the next three days.

Should any of these events support expectations of a Fed rate cut, with the Fed Funds Futures already expecting a 55 percent chance of a cut by December, that could see the Dollar Index (DXY) sink back towards 96.80. However, any drop would likely be mitigated by the worsening global outlook, which is offering support for the Greenback.

Euro awaits ECB decision…

EURUSD bounced off the 1.12 support level in the lead up to the European Central Bank’s latest monetary policy decision that is due on Wednesday.

Mario Draghi and his fellow policymakers are expected to sit on their hands this month, with little room to maneuver amid significant headwinds. While political tensions in France and Brexit uncertainties are beyond the central bank’s control, these factors have been highlighted by the IMF as putting downward pressure on growth, leaving the ECB to bide for time and watch how these risks manifest themselves in the real economy.

Taking a look at the technical picture, the EURUSD remains in a bearish trend on the weekly charts. There have been consistently lower lows and lower highs while the Moving Average Convergence / Divergence (MACD) trades to the downside. A solid breakdown below 1.120 has the potential to encourage a move lower towards 1.113 and 1.100, respectively. If 1.120 proves to be a reliable support, the technical bounce is seen taking prices back towards 1.135.

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Pound complacent even as Brexit summit looms

Pound traders have narrowed the trading range for GBPUSD to between 1.30 and 1.31, even as markets remain on tenterhooks awaiting the next developments surrounding Brexit. The EU is set to hold an emergency Brexit summit on Wednesday, amid expectations that the UK will be told to delay its exit by up to a year.

It remains to be seen whether such a demand is palatable for UK lawmakers and Prime Minister Theresa May, whose request for a short extension to the June 30 was rejected. While a longer extension may avoid stringing markets along with a series of cliff-edge dates, it still doesn’t remove the overall uncertainty as to how and when the UK will exit from the European Union. This implies that the dark clouds of Brexit won’t be clearing up anytime soon, which should continue weighing on the Pound throughout the rest of 2019.

Focusing on the technical picture, the GBPUSD is struggling to keep above 1.3000 on the weekly timeframe. A decisive breakdown and weekly close below this point are likely to open the gates towards 1.2800 in the short to medium term.

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Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University.

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E-Financial

AfDB Blacklists Nigerian Firm, Its MD for Alleged Fraudulent Practice

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African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has announced the debarment of Lutoyilex Construct Limited, a construction company registered in Nigeria and Mr. Bamidele Obiniyi (also known as Mr. Bamidele Abayomi), its managing director, for a period of 36 months.

 

An investigation conducted by the Bank’s Office of Integrity and Anti-Corruption established that Lutoyilex Construct Limited engaged in fraudulent practice while bidding for a construction contract under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Program Phase One in Nigeria (ATASP-1).

 

According to the AfDB, while participating in a tender for the construction of social infrastructure in Niger State of Nigeria, the company misrepresented its experience in conducting similar construction contracts.

 

The debarment renders the company and its Managing Director ineligible to participate in Bank-financed projects during the debarment period.

 

The debarment qualifies for cross-debarment by other multilateral development banks under the Agreement for Mutual Recognition of Debarment Decisions, including the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank Group.

 

ATASP-1 is financed under the African Development Fund administered by the African Development Bank Group.

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Man Allegedly Hacks into Wema Bank Account, Steals N4m

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Nonso Okereke, a 29-year-old man has been being arraigned before an Igbosere Magistrates’ Court in Lagos for allegedly hacking into a Wema Bank account and stealing N4 million.

 

Okereke, allegedly committed the offence in connivance with Emeka Onumba, 36-year-old man.

 

Inspector Ingobo Emby, the police prosecutor, who brought the suspects before Magistrate A.O. Alogba, claimed that the duo committed the offences sometime in January at Wema Bank headquarters, located at 54, Marina Street, Lagos Island.

 

He informed the court that the defendants hacked into an account of Wema Bank, fraudulently transferred N4 million into various accounts, and later withdrew the money and shared, which the prosecutor said contravened Sections 287 and 411 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State.

 

When the charges were read to them, the suspects pleaded not guilty, while the magistrate granted them bail in the sum of N400,000 each with two sureties each in like sum who must have N500,000 in their bank accounts, with the case adjourned till July 18 for trial.

 

But as a result of the fear created by this report last week, Wema Bank has emphasised that its system was never hacked by the suspects, assuring customers that their deposits were safe.

 

“Wema Bank remains committed to protecting the funds of their customers and offering safe and secure banking services,” the financial institution said.

 

Explaining what happened, it was gathered after an investigation that the said sum was fraudulently withdrawn from the Wema Bank account of Maxwell Odoemenam without his consent by swapping the customer’s SIM card through the telecom company.

 

The SIM card swapped was due to failed controls on the part of the telecoms firm who did not carry out due diligence before allowing the SIM card swap. This is beyond the control of the bank, as they do not issue SIM card to customers, we learned.

 

The investigation further reveals that the customer had initially visited our Lawanson branch on 20/12/2018 to request for the balance in his account and when he was availed his account balance, he discovered that there was a shortfall of N20,100.00 in his balance. Further review of his statement of account revealed that the sum of N19,000 was transferred from his account via USSD platform into the account of one Amadi Promise in Union Bank, while the balance of N1,100 was used to purchase airtime recharge for his mobile line.

 

He however claimed that he did not register for USSD or any online platform with the bank thus, the transactions were fraudulent and not at his instance.

 

Upon interrogation of the customer, he explained that he had earlier visited Airtel Office to complain of network downtime on his phone number (08121730557), which he registered with the bank and he was notified by a staff of Airtel Office that someone had tampered with his SIM card, hence, he visited our Lawanson branch to request that his phone number be changed to another.

 

The staff of Lawanson branch (Wema Bank) who attended to the customer claimed that he advised the customer to allow the bank to place a debit restriction on his account to avert further fraud on it but that the customer did not agree with her but rather requested for a change of telephone number on the account because it is his business account and that he did not want any restriction on it so as not to disrupt his business.

 

Hence, restriction was not placed on his account but his profile was deactivated on the USSD platform.

 

The customer however denied the assertion that he rejected the Officer’s advice on placing a restriction on his account.

 

Unknown to the customer, after the initial N20,100 transactions, the fraudster(s) had already enrolled the customer on ALAT platform using the customer’s telephone number and other BVN details.

 

The telephone number was fraudulently swapped at the Telecommunication company which gave them access to the customer’s BVN details on NIBSS platform.

 

Upon the successful enrolment of the customer’s account on the ALAT platform, funds totalling N4,056,500.00 were fraudulently transferred to Adanna Mary Opara (N210,000.00), Okeke Favour (N100,000.00), Onumba Peter (N3,646,500.00) and Anyanwu Chinonyerem (N100,000) in Access, Union and GTBank, respectively.

 

The bank has refunded the customer with the lost funds and got the fraudsters arrested through the instrumentality of the Police to ensure substantive justice on the matter.

 

Onumba Peter, one of the fraudsters apprehended by the Police claimed that one Nonso Okereke introduced the fraud to him.

 

 

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SystemSpecs, NIBOX Ink Deal to Deepen Financial Inclusion

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SystemSpecs, the Nigerian company with interests in financial technology, designs and development of human resource management, (HRM) solutions and NIBOX, a multi-platform payment solution provider, have entered a partnership to extend financial products and services to the banked, under-banked and unbanked in the country.

 

SystemSpecs in a statement, said it would leverage NIBOX’s self-service payment terminals strategically located throughout Nigeria, and online through its innovative mobile platforms.

 

Through this partnership, it added that services such as federal and state governments’ payments, electricity recharge token, airtime and data phone top-up, cinema tickets purchase, insurance premium payment, cash transfers and other utility bills would be accessible on NIBOX touch points.

 

It added NIBOX had deployed 55 terminals in Lagos and Abuja, with plans to deploy additional 500 terminals in Lagos and Abuja by the end of 2019.

 

“We are glad to be collaborating with SystemSpecs to deliver new services to customers. Indeed, the value proposition and attainments of the Remita brand are a boost for this partnership and would ultimately be to the advantage of the end-user, who would now have improved access to various services and products across Nigeria,” Dr George Manuwuike, chief Executive officer/founder, NIBOX, said.

 

“This partnership is also in line with our aim of becoming the fastest and most convenient platform for cash payment for broad-based goods and services for public and private sectors,” Manuwuike added.

 

Commenting on the development, Demola Igbalajobi, SystemSpecs’ divisional head, Payment Gateway and Infrastructure, said, “At SystemSpecs, we understand that access to financial services is key to the development of a strong and efficient financial ecosystem, which facilitates economic growth. It is therefore a delight for us to partner with NIBOX to further bring Remita services closer to customers at their point of convenience using NIBOX touchpoints.”

 

 

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