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The developments in the banking sector

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A litany of developments eventuated in our financial system space in the outgone Yuletide. In all these, two of such events caught the attention of yours sincerely, hence, it has triggered this narrative. First, was the change of guards in the topmost echelon of the chairmanship position of First Bank Plc. Mr. Remi Babalola, former Minister of State for Finance, stood down as the board chairman, for Mr. Ahmad Abdullahi, former Director, Banking Supervision Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The news reverberated hugely on the financial system sphere of the land and even beyond. This was attributed to the robustness of the statures of the dramatize personae concerned on one hand. On the other, it can be ascribed to the elephantine or better still, the massive posture of the institution involved. On a salutary note, it is on record that the new chair taintlessly journeyed through his career in the apex bank. While there, he was an epitome of calmness, who abhorred bombastic rhetorics. To a large extent, he could be associated with meekness and lucid ideas. No wonder he gracefully and gleefully bowed out of the apex bank unscathed, some years ago.

It is on record also that during his central banking sojourn, he tenured one of the brightest and best moments in the annals of our financial system landscape that was devoid of any turmoil or rancor. These un-toxic traits among other reasons are capable of equipping him adequately in surmounting the challenges (if any) in his new position. Second, the other event that suffused through and filled the entire spectrum of the banking landscape in the land, was the acquisition of UBN by Titan Trust bank (2TB coinage is mine). When the news first broke out, many observers thought the acquisition or merger was consummated by Access bank Plc that recently absorbed Diamond. But when it became known that 2TB was the new owner, it sent jitters down the spine of many a depositor including but not limited to our Arise TV News Sunday Live Show anchor man Dr. Ruben Abati and his crew. According to them, it threw up some sort of surprises in the hearts of some depositors. A commentator had even described the development thus: “….with 2TB’s 89 percent stake acquisition in UBN, this was an uncommon acquisition or takeover.” Alas! He went further to say that: “A Rabbit had finally swallowed an Elephant.” This is because a two year old bank had ironically acquired a-ten decade old bank. Indeed, it was a big news.

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However, to the uninitiated, who are not abreast with developments in the disruptive business strategic parlance, this would pass for a new an unusual development. Contrariwise, disruptive business strategists, would hail the 2TB’s strategic initiative. This is imperative given the positivism that Google, Netflix, Uber, Airbnb, Nubank (disruptor of banks in Brazil), Flutterwave, Tesla etc had infused into the growth and development of businesses globally. For the acquisition to be effective and productive, the new UBN must begin to mimic some of the business models or stepping into the culture of Nubank especially in the areas of unlocking opportunities targeted at reducing cost of credits as well as adopting and adapting their problem solving approach into the Nigerian market. That being the case, are we expecting the new UBN to transform its culture to: ..” that of being …”young,fast, hungry, and operate in a high trust environment?” If that holds sway, are we also expecting the new UBN “….organization structure is completely different than that of traditional companies work in a squared structure. A product of this system is a flat moldable structure, in which we are more efficient and faster in fixing and building whatever needs turning?”

In the positive development that ensued, the veil was eventually lifted by the stakeholders. The man behind the mask that would give strategic direction and provide efficacious leadership to the new bank was unveiled. Like that great columnist and prolific writer – ‘Mr. Candido Johnson’ (the man behind the mask), Mr. Tunde Lemo, the quintessentially cerebral banker, who is clearly but enormously gifted in thoroughness and paying attention to details, was mentioned as the Chairman of the board of Directors of the transformed 2TB (now UBN). This, perhaps had put paid to the initial banking inertia and extinguished the confusion, and consequently, the banking face was literally “lit up with a new and radiant light.” Indeed, it was a big sigh of relief for both existing and prospective depositors to say the least. This air of relief cannot be controverted against the backdrop of his pedigree in the transformation agenda of the CBN where he earlier proved his mettle as a member of the team that reshaped and repositioned the Bank. I recall clearly while the working relationship lasted, he often stated to yours sincerely that : “ We needed to drop the toga of too much bureaucracy without compromising standards and work as if this edifice was a private entity.” He was such an amazing boss who never compromised standards while meeting deadlines. He was exceedingly resourceful and never allowed any memorandum to stay on his table for more than 24 hours. Despite his tight schedule, he masterfully replied all text messages even till date. This is the kind of person that will steer the ship of state in the new improved UBN.

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In spite of the above, and without mincing words, one must state categorically that the tasks ahead are daunting, but they are not insurmountable. The good news? The management team led by Mr. Tunde Lemo, appears to be “big, strong and reliable.” Additionally, they seem to be ethically and professionally sound, technologically innovative and technically savvy. More importantly, their clientele base is deep, visibly elastic and susceptible to accommodating more converts. Furthermore, the management team is blessed with array of experiences they can draw inferences from. The most profound, handy and perhaps the lowest hanging fruit, being a similar occurrence in the past. Retrospectively speaking, therefore, this type of take over or acquisition is NOT a novelty. We can recall quite vividly that Standard Trust Bank did same to United Bank for Africa (UBA) on August 1, 2005.

It was christened as one of the “biggest” and most celebrated mergers on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). The outcome? Your guess is as good as mine. UBA moved from a near analogue bank into a digitalized one, thereby leading to more efficient and effective service delivery and by extension posting juicy returns on shareholders’ funds. For instance, the profit after tax in 2005 stood at N5,921m. However, after the first three years of the merger, UBA’s “gross earnings for 2008 increased by 55% to N169.6 billion (2007: N109.5 billion) with strong contributions from all of our business lines. Profit before tax and exceptional items for 2008 increased by 82% to N56.8 billion (2007: N31.2 billion) and profit after tax increased by 90% to N40.8 billion (2007: N21.5 billion).” Thus, up until now, UBA’s trajectory of growth has remained on the upbeat. Without being immodest, my prognosis is that 2TB (UBN) shall equal or surpass this phenomenal growth in not-too-far a future.

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In view of the foregoing developments in our financial system, the above salient happenstances cannot be wished away. Typically, markets that are information-centric cannot but respond positively or otherwise to these two key occurrences in the days ahead. In some climes, such positive developments could jerk up the values of their stocks to witness unprecedented upswing and by extension, a non-deceleration, or some sort of soaring to the high heaven the returns on shareholders’ funds.

Head or tail, there shall be market reactions. With these two key dynamic appointments, the space is expected to witness more opportunities that will be driven by more ‘co-optition’ ie “competition, collaboration and co-operation”. This has been amplified by Omordion while commenting recently on the outlook for 2022. He elegantly put it that “…..there would be more opportunities for financial services, especially banks, expected to take advantage of the free trade zone agreement.” Within this context and advancing forward, it is no longer going to be business as usual. The duo of Lemo and Ahmad, who are no doubt tested and proven hands having bestrode the financial system stability sphere like colossus, will always strive hard to be primus inter pares. It is therefore, incumbent on them to prove this point by leveraging on technology, their vast experiences, and focus more on revolutionizing the traditional banking processes, practices and procedures that would stem the tide of their reaching the above mentioned strategic goal. It is when this strategic objective is achieved that the above poser would not have only been answered, but must have been seen to have been answered in the affirmative.

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iPhone 15 Launch: Redefining Connectivity, Safety, Sustainability

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Apple aficionados, hold onto your seats because the iPhone 15 series has officially landed. The lineup includes the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, starting at an enticing $799, and the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, with prices starting at $999. Here are some key takeaways:

USB-C Charging: Apple is embracing the universally accepted USB-C standard, allowing you to charge your iPhone 15 with the same cable that powers your Mac, iPad, and even AirPods Pro 2nd Generation. This seamless compatibility simplifies your tech life.

Satellite Roadside Assistance: In an innovative move, Apple has introduced Emergency SOS via satellite. This service has been a lifesaver in emergencies, aiding first responders in accidents and natural disasters. Moreover, it’s expanded to 14 countries across three continents, ensuring your safety wherever you are.

Voice Isolation: The iPhone 15 employs advanced machine learning models that prioritize your voice. It also offers Voice Isolation, filtering out distracting background noise to ensure your voice comes through crystal clear.

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The Future of Connectivity: MagSafe and FineWoven Accessories
iPhone 15 Launch: Redefining Connectivity, Safety, SustainabilityiPhone 15 launch with eco-friendly accessories

Apple is not only redefining how we charge our devices but also how we accessorize them:

MagSafe: iPhone 15 features MagSafe, which uses magnets with 100% recycled rare earth elements. This ensures perfect alignment for MagSafe and Qi chargers, as well as other accessories like cases and wallets.

FineWoven Accessories: Apple introduces FineWoven cases that are soft, durable, and eco-friendly. These join the existing lineup of Silicone and clear cases, all meticulously designed to complement your iPhone 15 while reducing carbon emissions.

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A17 Pro Chipset: Power and Performance

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Under the hood, the iPhone 15 series packs a punch with the A17 Pro chipset. It delivers up to 10% faster performance with microarchitectural and design improvements. The Neural Engine is also turbocharged, making features like autocorrect and Personal Voice in iOS 17 even more efficient.

iPhone 15 Pro Max: Photography Redefined

Photography enthusiasts will rejoice as the iPhone 15 Pro Max boasts the longest optical zoom ever on an iPhone—5x at 120 mm. It features a groundbreaking tetraprism design, combining optical image stabilization and autofocus 3D sensor-shift technology. Night Mode photography, Smart HDR, and support for ACES—the Academy Colour Encoding System—make this iPhone a photography powerhouse.

As the curtain fell on Apple’s iPhone 15 launch event, it’s evident that the tech giant continues to push the boundaries of innovation. The iPhone 15 series redefines connectivity and safety, while the A17 Pro chipset and photography enhancements demonstrate Apple’s zeal for excellence.

With USB-C charging, satellite assistance, and a focus on sustainability, Apple is not just launching a new iPhone; it’s setting the stage for a tech future that’s more accessible, connected, and eco-conscious. The iPhone 15 series and its innovations are not just a glimpse into the future; they are the future, and it’s looking brighter than ever.

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Unveiling the Future of Automotive: The Metaverse Motor Show 2024

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NEW YORK, Sept. 07, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Leading virtual worlds Decentraland, Vegas City, and innovative digital architecture studio, Voxel Architects, are partnering to create the biggest automotive event in the history of the Metaverse: The Metaverse Motor Show 2024 (MVMS 2024). This collaboration aims to connect automotive enthusiasts, world-renowned car brands, and the global metaverse community to demonstrate the future of personal transportation.

MVMS24, slated for launch in February 2024, promises to be the ultimate convergence of technology, art, and imagination. By combining the expertise of Decentraland, the largest decentralized Metaverse, Vegas City, the pinnacle of gaming districts, and Voxel Architects, the renowned Metaverse-native digital architecture studio, this event will mark a new era for the automotive industry.

Hosted on an 800-parcel Estate within Decentraland, the MVMS 2024 will introduce an innovative approach to fan engagement, brand promotion, and experiential automotive showcases. With an array of features that include car runway shows, real-life car displays, wearable collections, live conferences, and live racetrack races, this event is poised to revolutionize how car lovers and automotive brands interact.

Sam Hamilton, Creative Director Decentraland Foundation expressed excitement about the potential of MVMS 2024, stating, “MVMS 2024 is a manifestation of the limitless possibilities that arise from the synergy of technology, design, and community. Our team is thrilled to create a visionary venue that will not only redefine how car enthusiasts experience automotive events but also pioneer the fusion of virtual and physical realities.”

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The MVMS 2024 represents a transformative journey into the future of automotive innovation. The event will facilitate unprecedented interactions between brands and their digitally native audiences. Automotive enthusiasts worldwide will witness a week-long celebration that blends reality and imagination, as cars take center stage in a Metaverse built for engagement, inspiration, and collaboration.

Brands participating in the MVMS 2024 will have the unique opportunity to embrace the next-generation internet, explore innovative Web3 fan engagement strategies, and pioneer new monetization models using NFT technology and exclusive ticket-access experiences.

Vegas City and Voxel Architects will design an exceptional event venue that mirrors the innovative spirit of the MVMS 2024. The organic-shaped building, surrounded by a racetrack, will host a central stage connected to brand plazas and pavilions that showcase iconic automotive brands in captivating and interactive ways.

The MVMS 2024 is more than an event; it’s a leap into the uncharted territories of automotive experiences. This is the future of automotive innovation, and the world is invited to be a part of history. Vroom Vroom.

About Decentraland
Decentraland is the first decentralized Metaverse built, governed, and owned by its users and creators. With renowned brands like Coca-Cola, Sotheby’s, Vogue, and more, Decentraland offers unparalleled opportunities for brand engagement and community building.

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About Vegas City
Vegas City, the largest gaming district in Decentraland, offers prime real estate and exciting venues. As a pioneer in the virtual social platform space, Vegas City presents a dynamic and engaging experience for virtual world enthusiasts.

About Voxel Architects
Voxel Architects is a Metaverse-native digital architecture studio and a benchmark in the creation of immersive experiences. With a diverse portfolio of clients, Voxel Architects is at the forefront of designing transformative virtual spaces for leading brands.

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The Need for Taxing the Metaverse: Opportunities and Implications

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Harvard scholar and esteemed law professor from Yeshiva University, Christine Kim, has unveiled a compelling study. It makes a case for taxing the metaverse and viewing it as a cutting-edge policy testing ground.
Wealth Creation in Metaverse Realms

Participants have the unique opportunity to generate wealth entirely in a virtual ecosystem within the metaverse. This new frontier of wealth accumulation prompts the question: how should it be regulated?

Kim’s research suggests that economic actions in the metaverse align with the established Haig-Simons and Glenshaw Glass income definitions. She warns, “Excluding it might inadvertently establish a tax haven.“

One of the metaverse’s hallmark features is its ability to record digital actions, enabling real-time wealth tracking meticulously. This attribute, Kim proposes, revolutionizes how governments might approach tax law, especially in the U.S. Immediate taxation upon income receipt could redefine existing practices.

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Currently, metaverse enthusiasts in the U.S. face taxation only during specific taxable events, such as withdrawals. However, Kim advocates for a paradigm shift. She recommends immediate taxation on all gains, even those unrealized, retained within the metaverse’s confines.
Navigating Enforcement Challenges

With new tax norms come the challenges of enforcement. Kim outlines two probable enforcement strategies:

Platform-Led Withholding: Individual platforms would retain taxes on their users’ behalf.
Residence Taxation: A less favored method, this requires platforms to dispatch tax details to users, placing the onus on them to settle their tax dues.

Beyond mere taxation, Kim posits that the metaverse offers lawmakers, even those distant from Web3 and metaverse tech, a golden chance. She eloquently states, “The Metaverse serves as an innovative lab for experimentation,” alluding to its potential to mimic situations the tangible world may never witness.

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The rise of the metaverse presents not just challenges but immense opportunities. Lawmakers and policy enthusiasts can delve deep, harnessing its potential to reshape fiscal policies and, perhaps, redefine our understanding of wealth and taxation in the digital age.

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