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FirstBank driving dollar remittances, economic growth through IMTOS

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For centuries, there have been heated debates over the sources of economic growth in developing economies and why some countries reflect strong economic growth compared to others.
The hypotheses have often centred around crude oil, agriculture, revenues, private capital, bubbling stock market, stable security, low unemployment rate, high standard of living amongst others. But in recent times, one factor that has been added to this list is diaspora remittances as it is one of the major international financial resources, which sometimes exceed the flows of foreign direct investment (FDI).

Remittances promote economic growth by increasing household income and increasing income creates the opportunity to boost consumer spending, accumulation of assets, promotion of self-employment, and investment in small business.

Data from the World Bank in 2014 indicates that global remittances stood at $430 billion dollar in 2011 and was 0.31 per cent of global GDP in 2009. The impact of remittances on any economy is more profound in developing countries because they receive $307.1 billion of the total N416 billion inward remittances, amounting to about 74 percent.

Remittances also account for about 27 percent of the GDP of developing countries. According to the World Bank, remittances flows to the developing world have reached $414 billion in 2013 (up 6.3 per cent over 2012), and are now, behind foreign direct investment, the second largest source of external financial flows to developing countries.

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Daily Sun investigations reveal that the enormous upward movement in remittances payments may be attributed largely to two factors, namely; immigration between developing and developed countries which increased dramatically in the past 20 years and declined in transaction costs as technological improvements have allowed for faster, lower cost mechanisms for the international transfer of payments between individuals.

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This means that it is different from other external capital inflows like foreign direct investment, foreign loans and aids due to its stable nature. Little wonder why the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) unveiled a new policy in 2020 that granted unfettered access to forex from the diaspora and other money transfer remittances like Western Union and MoneyGram.

The bank also clarified transactions that are eligible under the policy in line with global best practices. The policy allows beneficiaries of diaspora remittances through International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) to henceforth receive such inflows in the original foreign currency through designated bank of their choice. It explained that the new regulation was part of efforts to liberalise, simplify and improve receipt and administration of diaspora remittances into Nigeria.

Under the new policy, recipients of remittances may have the option of receiving such funds in foreign currency cash (US Dollars) or into their ordinary domiciliary account.

“These changes are necessary to deepen the foreign exchange market, provide more liquidity and create more transparency in the administration of Diaspora remittances into Nigeria,” the apex bank stated.

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It explained that the changes would help finance a future stream of investment opportunities for Nigerians in the Diaspora, while also guaranteeing that the recipients of remittances would receive a market- reflective exchange rate for their inflows.

Backed by these words, several commercial banks swung into action to tap into this virgin zone by introducing a variety of offers that yield fruits as more remittances started coming in.

However, the CBN in March 2021, in a bid to encourage more inflows, introduced a new incentive tagged “Naira 4 Dollar Scheme”. In a circular signed by Saleh Jibrin, CBN ‘s Director, Trade and Exchange Department, said, the scheme would allow all recipients of diaspora remittances to be paid N5 for everyone dollar received.

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This explains why First Bank of Nigeria Limited chose to expand diaspora remittances inflow into the country by increasing its network of International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) targeted at easing accessibility of its customers to receive money from close to 100 countries across the world in a safe and secured manner.

Before then, it was on record that FirstBank has maintained a long-standing partnership with Western Union, MoneyGram, Ria, Transfast, and WorldRemit. The Bank is also in partnership with other IMTOs including Wari, Smallworld, Sendwave, Flutherwave, Funtech, Thunes and Venture Garden Group to promote remittance inflows into the country, thus putting Nigerians and residents at an advantage in receiving money from their families, friends and loved ones across the bank’s 750 branches especially in this Yuletide season.

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For potential customers without an existing domiciliary account, they can have their dollar account automatically created for their remittances and can also receive inflow directly into their account through Western Union.  In addition, FirstBank has launched its wholly owned remittance platform named First Global Transfer product to promote the international transfer of funds across its subsidiaries in sub-Saharan Africa. These subsidiaries include FBNBank DRC, FBNBank Ghana, FBNBank Gambia, FBNBank Guinea, FBNBank Sierra-Leone, and FBNBank Senegal.

Reiterating the bank’s resolve in promoting diaspora remittances, regardless of where one is across the globe, the Deputy Managing Director, Mr Gbenga Shobo said, “At First Bank, expanding our network of International Money Transfer Operators is in recognition of the significant roles diaspora remittances play in driving economic growth such as helping recipients meet basic needs, fund cash and non-cash investments, finance education, foster new businesses and debt servicing.

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We are excited about these partnerships, as it is essential to ensure our customers are at an advantage to receive money from their loved ones and business associates, anywhere they are across the world.”

Having been at the forefront of pioneering international funds transfer and remittances over 25 years ago, it is safe to say the bank’s wealth of experience and operation in over 750 locations nationwide gives it the edge in the market.

With its total principal standing at N100 billion and over one million customers to service in 2020, FirstBank is providing prospective investors wishing to explore the vast business opportunities that are available in Nigeria, an internationally competitive world-class brand, a credible financial partner, thus promoting economic growth and development.

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Culled from The Sun 

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Experts Make Case For Convergence At Maiden SiBAN P2P Conference

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Financial and blockchain technology experts have called for a melting point of synergy and convergence for Centralised Finance-CeFi, Decentralised Finance-DeFi and Traditional Finance-TradFi in the country to foster progress and bring about mutually beneficial economic development in the country.

They made this call over the weekend at the inaugural peer-to-peer conference of the Stakeholders in Blockchain technology Association of Nigeria (SiBAN) held at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos.

These experts from across the world cutting across different segments in the alternative finance ecosystem spoke to the theme of the conference “CeFi, DeFi & TradFi: is there a need for Convergence in the Current Divergence?” Chief Olutoyin Oloniteru, Founder and Chairman, Crypto Economy Institute of Africa (CEIAfrica) commenced as the first keynote, speaking to the topic, “Emergence of CeFi, DeFi & TradFi: Securing the Future in the Current Divergence.”

Giving a global perspective to the theme of the discourse, Lars Seier Christensen, Chairman of Concordium who is a global pioneer in FX and derivative trading and a co-Founder & former Co-CEO of Saxo Bank addressed participants, speaking on the topic, “The Emergence of CeFi, DeFi and TradFi: a Concordium Perspective.”
Exploring the theme of the conference more broadly, more speakers also spoke at the panel sessions of the conference. In the first titled “Navigating the Opportunities and Risks in CeFi and DeFi, and Exploring Possible Opportunities in TradFi. In the highly engaging session, AbikureTega, Team Lead, Kumon Wallet; Chuta Chimezie, Founder, BNUG & Vice-President, BiCCoN; Eric Anan, Founder/CEO, Global DCA and Rume Ophi, Founder, Cryptopreacher Blockchain Academy were in their elements sharing knowledge on the subject matter. The session was moderated by Chioma Onyekelu, CCI, A&D Forensics.

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The last session was on “Crypto Exchanges and VASPs as Partners to Regulators and the Government: Where Innovation Meets Regulation.” Chiagozie Iwu, CEO, NaijaCrypto; Franklin Peters, CEO, BoundlessPay; Beverley Onyejianya-Agbakoba, Partner, Olisa wer e Agbakoba Legal; Oyewole Joledo, Snr. Manager, Paxful; Prince Nwafuru, Partner, The Law Suite; Ruth Iselama, CEO, Bitmama and Seun Dania, CEO, TradeFada were all panellists on this session.

Earlier in his address, President of SiBAN, Mr. Senator Ihenyen while welcoming participants to the event said that the conference was the association’s way of developing the industry. “What we represent is a self-regulatory body in Nigeria’s blockchain industry. With this conference, we want to have a platform where innovators, as well as policymakers and other stakeholders within and outside the industry can have conversations around blockchain adoption, policy and regulation.

“We are looking at P2P not inform of peer-to-peer transactions only but in terms of open one-on-one conversations where we have a marketplace of ideas about how Nigeria should go about maximising the opportunity provided by blockchain technology while also helping to minimise the risk. As a self-regulatory body in this space, we recognise that there are opportunities and that there are risks as well. How we respond to this is what matters,” he said.

Chairman of the P2P Conference Planning Committee, Jude Ozinegbe revealed that the overwhelming turnout by stakeholders in the financial sector especially those who play in the alternative finance segment is a huge indication of the sheer influence SiBAN commands. He also thanked organisations that have played onerous parts in the success of the conference through their partnership support and sponsorship.

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These organisations he noted include Alpha ltd, ABCC, BEI, thinkcrypto, Blockchain Vibes, Everest, Crypto Hills, Cryptopreacher Blockchain Academy, Sinso Technologies, Market Advance, Near Finance Protocol, Bitget, Empowered CryptoHub, Smart Investors Hub, Super Woman, GIDA, LUPPON, Finsmart, CryptoMart, MoEX Consult, among others.

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L-R: Mr. Senator Ihenyen, President, SiBAN; Chioma Onyekelu, Auditor, A&D Forensics; Chuta Chimezie, Founder BNUG; Paul Ezeafulukwe, Senior Business Developer Manager, Bitget; Rume ‘Cryptopreacher’ Ophi, Founder, Cryptopreacher Academy; Stanley Golomo, Founder, Farmchain Finance and Jude Ozinegbe, Chairman Organising Committee for Stakeholders in Blockchain Association of Nigeria’s maiden P2P Conference held over the weekend

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Panelists doing justice to the theme of the conference held over the weekend.

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Cross section of participants at the conference held over the weekend.

About SiBAN

Stakeholders in Blockchain Technology Association of Nigeria (SiBAN) is a Self-Regulatory Organisation (SRO), an association of blockchain & crypto industry players founded in 2018. Registered members work together to promote a free market for blockchain & crypto players by driving blockchain & crypto education, encouraging the adoption of model self-regulatory policies in accordance with global best practices, and collaborating with relevant bodies to ensure that innovation is not stifled by regulation, consumer protection and investor safety are safeguarded.

At the Nigeria Fintech Week 2021, SiBAN was recognized as “The Best Blockchain Association in Africa”.

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SiBAN Set To Hold Maiden P2P Conference, August 6

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Stakeholders in Blockchain Association of Nigeria (SiBAN) has announced that all arrangements to hold its inaugural Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Conference billed for the 6th of August, 2022 at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, has been concluded.

Speaking recently to the media on the upcoming event, the President of SiBAN, Mr. Senator Ihenyen disclosed that the conference which will be a hybrid event is part of the association’s commitment to educating users and members of the public about blockchain technology, promoting its adoption by both private and public bodies, ensuring consumer protection and helping them safeguard against scams, while also working with regulators to help maximize the untapped potentials of blockchain technology.

“Blockchain is one of the biggest opportunities for Africa in the 4th Industrial Age. Nigeria is Africa’s biggest country and one of the biggest players on the globe. We understand the challenges in this ecosystem as well as opportunities for Nigerians. That is why we have lineup a rich crop of experienced and successful leaders in this space to speak on the theme, ‘CeFi, DeFi & TradFi: is there a need for Convergence in the Current Divergence,’” Ihenyen said.

Mr. Senator Ihenyen, President, SiBAN

“With this P2P Conference 2022 theme, we wish to have an open conversation about the emergence of blockchain technology, its application across the spectrum of CeFi, DeFi, and TradFi, and consider whether a convergence of these three is the better way to go for both innovators and regulators,” he explained.

Chairman of the Organising Committee for the conference, Jude Ozinegbe further revealed that the P2P Conference 2022 will be targeting up to 5000 participants, bringing players, policymakers, and the public together.

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Chukwuemeka Ezike, VP, Media & Publicity, SiBAN

Ozinegbe who is also the Convener of Cyberchain added: “the conference will provide participants with networking opportunities while serving as a vehicle to drive awareness of the economic value of what we do. Participants will also enjoy access to conference talks, workshops, and other learning opportunities and get to network with speakers, guests, and other conference participants,” he revealed.

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Vice President, Media and Publicity for the association, Chukwuemeka Ezike added that the P2P Conference 2022 will be free and opened to all to attend, however registration is compulsory and can be done at www.siban.org.ng/p2p-register.

Among the speakers SiBAN has lined up for the conference is Channels Television’s crypto market analyst and Founder of the prestigious CryptoPreacher Blockchain Academy CPBA, Rume Ophi (CryptoPreacher). He says that the leadership of the conference committee couldn’t have chosen a better theme in the face of the current economic realities of the country. Noting that Nigerians are at the forefront of the adoption and utilization of blockchain and cryptocurrency in Africa, Rume is optimistic that the quality of speakers at the conference will make invaluable contributions to the alternative finance space in Africa.

Jude Ozinegbe

Stakeholders in Blockchain Technology Association of Nigeria (SiBAN) is a Self-Regulatory Organisation (SRO), an association of blockchain & crypto industry players founded in 2018. Registered members work together to promote a free market for blockchain & crypto players by driving blockchain & crypto education, encouraging the adoption of model self-regulatory policies in accordance with global best practices, and collaborating with relevant bodies to ensure that while innovation is not stifled by regulation, consumer protection and investor safety are safeguarded.

At the Nigeria Fintech Week 2021, SiBAN was recognized as “The Best Blockchain Association in Africa”.

To register for free, follow this link: www.siban.org.ng/p2p-register

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UBA announces Oliver Alawuba as new GMD (Photos)

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United Bank for Africa Plc, Africa’s global bank, has announced the appointment of Oliver Alawuba as Group Managing Director, overseeing all the group’s banking operations across its twenty African country network and globally in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, France, and the United Arab Emirates.

Oliver Alawuba joined UBA in 1997 and has held a series of senior positions, including as the CEO of UBA Ghana, the CEO of UBA, Africa and most recently, as Group Deputy Managing Director.

“I am very pleased to announce Oliver Alawuba as the new Group Managing Director of the UBA Group. Oliver has extensive experience in Nigeria and our African network and is well equipped to advance our pan-African and global strategy. I have no doubt that Oliver will build on the legacy of Kennedy Uzoka, who has exemplified transformational leadership by championing a customer-first philosophy; launching our twentieth operation in Africa, UBA Mali; acquiring a wholesale banking licence for UBA UK in the United Kingdom; and opening our fourth global operation, UBA Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates,” UBA Group Chairman, Tony Elumelu, stated.

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Kennedy Uzoka, Tony Elumelu and Oliver Alawuba

Oliver Alawuba expressed his commitment to his new role as Group Managing Director saying, “I am grateful for the opportunity to lead this great institution and would like to thank the UBA Group Chairman and the members of the Board of Directors for the confidence they have put in me to deliver the mandate.”

Alawuba takes on his new position from August 1, 2022, subject to approval by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

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Muyiwa Akinyemi was also appointed as Deputy Managing Director.  Muyiwa joined UBA in 1998, as a Senior Banking Officer in UBA’s Energy Bank, and has served the Group in Nigeria and our broader Africa network for twenty-four years.

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L-R: New Executive Director, North Bank, Ms Emem Usoro; Group Chairman, Mr. Tony Elumelu; New Group Managing Director/CEO, Mr. Oliver Alawuba; and New Deputy Managing Director, Muyiwa Akinyemi, during the corporate event to announce the appointments of new GMD and Executive Directors for UBA Group, held at the Tony Elumelu Amphitheatre, UBA House, Lagos on Monday

Other executive appointments included Sola Yomi-Ajayi as Executive Director, Treasury and International Banking, Ugochukwu Nwagodoh as Executive Director, Finance and Risk Management, Alex Alozie, Executive Director and Group Chief Operating Officer and Emem Usoro, Executive Director, North Bank.

Yomi-Ajayi has been with the group since 2004 and has considerable international experience, culminating in her appointment as CEO of UBA America, while Nwagodoh joined the group from PwC in October 2004. He has since held a series of significant roles in the areas of performance management, compliance, financial control and reporting.

It was in 2019 that Alozie joined the group and has been responsible for the group’s digital transformation and operational efficiencies, while Usoro joined in 2011 and has served in a series of senior regional appointments across Nigeria, covering the retail, corporate and public sectors.

The board also announced the retirements of the following executive directors, who have completed their tenures. They included Kennedy Uzoka, Uche Ike, Chukwuma Nweke, Ibrahim Puri and Chiugo Ndubisi. Freelanews was informed that most of them will continue to serve the broader group upon regulatory approval of a holding company structure.

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A further announcement was made on the retirement of a non-executive director, Ambassador Joe C. Keshi, OON, who served as vice chairman of the board.  This takes effect from August 1, 2022 after a completion of his tenure of twelve years.

The group chairman congratulated the retiring directors on the completion of their tenors and their exemplary records.

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United Bank for Africa is one of the largest employers in the financial sector on the African continent, with 25,000 employees group wide and serving over 35 million customers globally.  Operating in twenty African countries and in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, France and the United Arab Emirates, UBA provides retail, commercial and institutional banking services, leading financial inclusion and implementing cutting edge technology.

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