COVID-19: Heritage Bank Moves To Curb Impact, Offers Seamless Service

fie sekibo
fie sekibo

,As the world grapples with the scourge of the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic, which has continued to pose  worldwide challenges for healthcare systems across economies and corporate organisations, Heritage Bank Plc is taking practical to  seamlessly serve its customers, whilst ensuring the health and safety of its workers and others at the workplace.

To this end the bank has put in place measure to minimise and manage the risk arising from the disease known as COVID-19 and ensure that the payment infrastructure and logistics to maintain operations going as various State governments brace up for lockdown to contain the pandemic.

The bank’s Management in a statement explained that part of its business continuity management emanating from Heritage Bank’s corporate strategy is  to guarantee seamless service delivery to various stakeholders, adopt measures to tackle significant business risk that might have growth impact on economy, whilst taken reasonably practicable steps to minimize the risk.

According to Heritage Bank, incognizant with the protocols proffered by the World Health Organisation, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and other health agencies, Heritage Bank provided a work environment that is without risk to health and safety and adequate facilities for workers in carrying out their work, so far as is reasonably practicable.

The statement maintained that the Bank has kept a maximum of 10% of staff who constitute mainly Units heads and “must have” working from its premises during these times of uncertainties, whilst others work remotely from home to adhere to the social distancing directive.

The bank further stated that efforts have been ongoing via its intranet and other channels to keep staff and customers up-to-date with the latest COVID-19 information and provide clear direction and guidance expected of workers and customers.

“We have enforced and continued to monitor the need for workers to practice good hygiene, including:  frequent hand washing, use of sanitizer,  limiting contact with others, including through shaking hands covering their mouths while coughing or sneezing require workers to stay away from the workplace if they are unwell and not fit for work, and encourage them to seek medical advice as appropriate seek advice from health authorities immediately if there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19 and for staff who are arriving from affected countries to self-quarantine for 14days,” the financial institution stated.

To ensure seamless banking transactions, the bank explained that customers are constantly communicated to, to adopt its available 24/7 alternate electronic channels.

“We have encouraged our customers to adopt the self-service platforms like *745*0# for balance enquiry, Funds Transfer (Within Heritage Bank): *745*1*Amount*Account Number#, self-airtime recharge: *745*Amount#, third party airtime recharge: *745*Amount*Mobile Number# and change pin: *745*00#.

“We are available via email info@hbng.com and social media (insert social media icons) to render the following services: Debit Card Hotlist, Post No Debit Request (PND Placement), HB Padie unlock/ username request/ Password reset, Statement of Account (individual accounts) and general inquiries on products and services

“We have setup a COVID-19 Support Centre to offer COVID-19 safety tips to all our customers during this period, in support of the efforts of the Government and relevant bodies. Please send any information relating to the COVID-19 pandemic via these channels: E-mail: HeritageBankCovid19Support@hbng.com  and contact number:   01-2369099,” the bank explained.

 

Sterling Bank Reports 15% Net Profit Growth In 2019

Abubakar-Suleiman
Abubakar-Suleiman

Sterling Bank Plc, a full-service national bank, has in its audited accounts for the year ended 31st December 2019, reported a 15% growth in its profit after tax (PAT) of N10. 6 billion, recorded on gross earnings of N150.2   billion compared to a net profit of N9.2 billion in the corresponding period of 2018.

Commenting on the financial performance, Abubakar Suleiman, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sterling Bank said, “In the final quarter of 2019, our relentless commitment to improving education through micro banking was rewarded with ‘The Banker’s Award for Banking in the Community’ on the global stage by the Financial Times of London.”

He said the bank was also ranked ‘top 3 banks in retail’ by Nigerian consumers in a KPMG banking survey – a major accomplishment for the brand – and overall, the bank delivered a 15  percent growth in profit after tax to N10.6  billion as at December 2019.

According to Mr. Suleiman, the bank recorded an increase in gross earnings, driven majorly by growth in fees and commissions by 24.3 percent, despite a steady loan base – as it continues to diversify into key sectors of focus – and a decline in trading income.

In 2019, the bank delivered more than 200 percent increase in loans to its retail and consumer segment with its Loan-to-Deposit Ratio (LDR) above the regulatory limit all year round.

Notably, the bank’s digital lending product continued to set the trend with more than N45 billion disbursed to more than 50,000 customers. Also, interest expense declined by 10.9 percent driven by a 19.4 percent year-on-year increase in low-cost deposits as the Bank continues to grow its Retail & Consumer base, resulting in a 110 bps drop in the cost of funds and consequently, a 130 bps increase in net interest margin.

According to the CEO, the Bank’s cost-to-income ratio remained relatively flat year-on-year, even as operating expenses grew on the back of staff salaries and wages and spend on technology infrastructure as well as digital platforms.

Suleiman maintained that the bank grew its deposit base by over N130 billion in deposit during the 12-month period, representing over 75 percent growth from its 2018 performance of about N75 billion, and shareholders’ funds grew by 22.2 percent at the end of the year.

Analysis showed that in comparison with its peers, Sterling delivered the highest percentage growth in terms of savings deposits and 2nd highest in terms of total low-cost deposits.

He also noted that investments in technology have also allowed the bank to continuously record steady growth in the instant payments market contributing to the bank’s transactional revenue. Also, the bank has continued to see traction in machine supported transactions, driven by the adoption of its digital channels. As a direct result, Sterling’s NIBBS Instant Payments (NIP) transaction volume grew by 78 percent compared to the previous year, faster than the industry growth while recording the fastest growth in Fees & Commission income in comparison with its peers.

Fidelity Bank Announces 24% Rise In Profit: Proposes 20k Dividend Per Share

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Nnamdi-Okonkwo
Nnamdi-Okonkwo

Fidelity Bank has announced an impressive full year result, sustaining the sterling financial performance that has been witnessed by the top lender in recent years. The bank’s FY 2019 results released on Monday at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), showed strong growth across key income and balance-sheet lines.  Gross Earnings grew by 14.0% to N215.5bn from N189.0bn in 2018, whilst Profit before tax rose by 21.0% to N30.4bn compared with N25.1bn recorded in the previous year. Similarly net profits surged by 24% from N22.9bn in 2018 to N28.4bn in 2019. Buoyed by the performance, the bank plans to pay a dividend of 20kobo translating to N5.8bn compared to a dividend of 11 kobo paid in 2018.

In other indices, Net Interest Income increased by 13.2% to N83.1bn in 2018. Net Operating Income rose by 15.6% from N97.2bn to N112.3bn whilst Total Assets grew by 22.9% from N1,719.9bn to N2,114.0bn in the period under review.

Commenting on the results, Fidelity Bank CEO, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo expressed delight with the performance “We are delighted at the results which clearly showed that we sustained our performance trajectory and continued to increase our market share driven by significant traction in our chosen business segments”, he said.

On Digital Banking he said the results were enhanced by new initiatives in the retail lending segment and the deepening of the bank’s existing digital products.  According to him “We now have 47.4% of our customers enrolled on the mobile/internet banking products, 82.0% of total transactions now done on digital platforms and 31.1% of fee-based income now coming from our digital banking business”.

He further revealed that the efforts aimed at strengthening the bank’s foothold of the retail market, is yielding significant results with savings deposits rising by 20.7% to N275.2bn making it the 6th consecutive year of double-digit growth. “Savings deposits now accounts for about 22.5% of total deposits, an attestation of our increasing market share in the retail segment” stated Okonkwo.

Just as was seen with deposit growth, there was also a corresponding increase in the bank’s retail assets. Specifically, Retail loans grew by 42.9% to N53.8bn driven by the bank’s new digital lending products and partnership with Fintechs. As at December 2019, the bank had disbursed over 70,000 micro-loans on our flagship digital lending product (Fidelity FastLoan) in partnership with Migo.

Conversely there was a remarkable improvement in Non-performing loans (NPLs). The bank’s NPL ratio dropped to 3.3% from 5.7% in the 2018FY due primarily to the growth in the loan book and a 25.1% decline in absolute NPLs resulting from the loan write-offs of over N12bn.

 

Heritage Bank Stimulates Financial Inclusion

 

Heritage Bank ED links financial literacy to economic growth
Heritage Bank ED links financial literacy to economic growth

As part of efforts to consummate the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) initiated policy aimed at reducing the figure of the unbanked populace by 20 percent by 2020 as well as ensure greater participation in the nation’s financial sector, Heritage Bank Plc has keyed into this initiative to drive financial inclusion and promote economic growth.

CBN has mandated all banks in line with the 2020 financial inclusion target, to have a nationwide Account Opening Week.

The Account Opening Week is an initiative of the CBN, Bankers’ Committee and other Stakeholders to provide opportunities for financially excluded Nigerians and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises to open accounts with formal financial institutions, with the overall aim to access financial services to reduce the current 36.8per cent financially excluded to 20per cent and stimulate economic growth.

Towards this developments, Heritage Bank strategically deployed its technology and large number of staff to reach the large populace who do not have bank accounts in selected and rural areas, where they opened they opened accounts for members of the public.

Speaking on this exercise, the MD/CEO of the bank, Ifie Sekibo stated that Heritage Bank has been at the fore and continues to give its unreserved backing towards reducing the exclusion rate to 20per cent by 2020, create jobs, reduce poverty and improve the welfare of the people.

According to him, the bank succeeded in opening more than 2, 000 bank accounts in designated centres of the following six (6) states; Kano, Ebonyi, Nasarawa, Gombe, Bayelsa and Ondo.

Meanwhile, Sekibo made recourse to Heritage Bank’s supports so far, noting that the bank have been taking aggressive approach with the introduction of agent banking partners.

He pinpointed that the bank has brought on board over 10,000 agent partners since the commencement and launching of ‘corner shop’, which lends credibility to the consistency of the service and how it is changing lives and empowering Nigerians across the country.

At this steady growth rate of approximately 17.5 percent new agent per month, one can say that hitting the long term vision of 100,000 active agents in five years is well within reach.

However, Sekibo explained that financially excluded persons constitute a gap in the financial system and there is no way to create a perfect economy except all these people are brought on board.

“Another issue is that the older generation seem to be averse to technology because they have not been exposed to it and the fear of fraud,” he also said, but assured that the CBN and the banks will continue to improve its technology space. //End.//

 

COVID-19: SEC Issues Operational Guidelines

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SEC-Nigeria
SEC-Nigeria

hat Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC,  has issued an advisory that would mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on capital market operations.

In a circular to capital market stakeholders on COVID-19, the SEC released a number of market-focused adjustments to be adopted in the interim in response to the effects of COVID-19 which includes filing and processing of applications electronically, extension of deadline on 2019 annual reports and Q1 2020 reports, postponement of the Q1 Capital Market Committee meeting earlier scheduled for April 23, 2020.

The Commission stated that applications shall be filed electronically while pending applications and requests by CMOs for update of information would be processed via registration@sec.gov.ng. However, fresh applications for registration of Capital Market Operators are suspended until further notice.

Also, returns shall be filed electronically while the Commission has approved a 60-day extension, in the first instance for public companies and capital market operators to file their 2019 annual reports and Q1 2020 reports.

By the advisory, public companies are to take appropriate precautionary measures as recommended by the Federal and State Governments as well as the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to ensure the safety of shareholders and participants at Annual General Meetings/Extra-Ordinary General Meetings and other meetings which may be held during the prevalence of the pandemic.

“The first Capital Market Committee Meeting for the year scheduled to hold on April 23, 2020, and all other meetings have been postponed indefinitely. All complaints and enquiries should be made to the Commission at sec@sec.gov.ng,  09-4621100 and  09-4621168 or at our various social media accounts

“It is important to note that the foregoing guidelines are not exhaustive, but rather represent an outline of immediate actions the Commission considers necessary to sustain the actualization of its regulatory mandate and maintain the integrity of the Nigerian capital market during this challenging period. Accordingly, the Commission will continue to issue updates to market stakeholders as appropriate. The Commission will also continue to closely coordinate with other financial regulators and governmental authorities” the SEC stated.

The SEC enjoins all capital market stakeholders to adhere to all recent directives on safety and social distancing, the Commission stated that it is focused on the following measures, amongst others: ensuring the continuity of its operations;  monitoring market functions and systemic risks; providing regulatory flexibility and guidance to issuers, trading platforms, capital market operators and other stakeholders impacted by COVID-19; and continuation of investor protection efforts and relevant enforcement actions,

The spread of the Corona Virus (COVID-19) worldwide has created a degree of uncertainty and anxiety, as governments and health experts attempt to curtail the proliferation of the virus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) had warned that given Africa’s fragile health systems, the threat posed by COVID-19 in the continent is considerable. This has led to various actions by the Federal and State Governments in Nigeria to curb the spread of the virus.

Access Earmarks N1b Reward For DiamondXtra Season 12

In line with efforts to boost savings culture and drive Federal Government’s financial inclusion initiative, Access Bank Plc on Friday unveiled DiamondXtra season 12 savings promo package.

The bank’s Executive Director, Retail Banking, Victor Etuokwu, explained at the launch in Lagos that the Bank would give out N1 billion to 5,074 lucky customers in the promo.

Etuokwu said that the bank was looking at increasing its accounts from 41 million to 100 million by 2022.

“We are looking at bringing in up to 100 million accounts between now and 2022 as we are currently at 41 million accounts and so we are targeting Nigerians as we want every household in Nigeria to have a Diamondxtra account”, he said.

According to hm, DiamondXtra savings promo season 12 had been packaged with amazing new segments and features to meet customers’ needs and aspirations.

The executive director said the bank had given out over N5.7 billion to over 22,000 customers since the inception of DiamondXtra savings promo initiative in 2008.

“This year will be wonderful for our Access Bank customers, especially the ones who have a DiamondXtra savings account.

“This season we are introducing several good stuffs over the last season.

“We will have over 63 winners for rent for a year category, three people winning salary for life and we will introduce a free health insurance scheme that will cover the customer, spouse and three children,” Etuokwu said.

He said that the bank had introduced a lot of loyalty schemes in the current promo.

Etuokwu noted that monthly draws would be conducted for women from March to December, where nine winners would be rewarded with N300,000 each to commemorate 2020 International Women’s Day.

He said that one of the lucky women would, apart from the N300,000, would get a shopping allowance of N100,000.

Also speaking, Robert Giles, Access Bank Head, Products Insights and Capabilities, said the bank had remained committed to impacting the lives of Nigerians.

“We said we will stick to this initiative and this season we have made it bigger and better for Nigerians to participate, and we are excited about it because we are driving financial inclusion as well as savings in every household.

“This year, we will be crossing the N6 billion of prize funds which will be distributed to our customers, and we have tripled the number of people who will win in DiamondXtra Season 12.

“We are happy because we are still going to impact the lives of Nigerians in our quarterly and monthly draws”, Giles said.

Adaeze Umeh, the bank’s Head, Consumer Banking, stated that the bank would be rewarding 5,074 customers with about N1 billion and about 21 customers with a health insurance package amounting up to N1.6 million.

Umeh said new or existing customers can either open a DiamondXtra account in any one of its branches across the country or fund their account with a minimum of N5,000 to qualify for the draw.

Earlier, Mrs Pricilla Onuzulu, Deputy Director/ Coordinator, National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), commended the bank for the initiative aimed at promoting savings culture and rewarding customers’ loyalty.

Onuzulu stated that the bank had been keeping to its promise since the introduction of the savings promo in 2008.

She assured customers that NLRC would not compromise standard, noting that the promo keeps getting better and better.

“NLRC will always be there to ensure transparency and standards are not going to be compromised,” Onuzulu added.

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FG Has Released N285b For 2020 Capital Projects – Finance Minister

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning,  Zainab Ahmed, on Friday revealed that about N285 billion has so far been released for capital projects in the 2020 budget.

Speaking after the Presidential Committee on the review of the impact of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) on the Economy submitted its interim report to President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, also revealed that Nigeria had released a total of $220 million as Nigeria’s part of the counterpart funding for railway projects to China EXIM Bank.

The Minister who  addressed Journalists alongside three other members of the committee, namely the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva; Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari.

The Minister explained that the committee had been mandated to ensure that the business of government continues despite the effect of the disease on the economy, adding that the government, for now, would prioritize her expenditures..

“This committee that has been set up by the President to review the impact of COVID-19 as well as the crash of crude oil price has gone just now and had a short meeting with the President in which we filed an interim report, and the President has directed that we should consult and come back to him with an update next week.

“What we have been mandated to do is to ensure that the business of government continues to run as much as possible normally; that government agencies are funded. But there must be continuous investments in critical infrastructure that would ensure continuous growth and also concentrate on programmes and projects that will enhance the employment of our people.

“We are looking at ways and means in which the revenue of government will be stabilised and that we are able to fund the states through the FAAC process at a level that is averagely expected and planned for both the federal as well as the National budget.

“So as we finish our consultations next week, we will be expecting some approvals and then we will be meeting with you to inform you of the specific approvals that we have been able to obtain from His Excellency the President.

“So as at Tuesday this week, we have released N285 billion to a number of agencies. We prioritize the releases to the critical infrastructure agencies. But we have also made the releases for education as well as health.

“So the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Works and Housing, Niger Delta, a number of ministries and agencies that have important infrastructure projects have got their funds.

“Also this week, we have been able to release to the Ministry of Transport the counterpart funding provided for in our budget that is required for the important railway projects that are currently ongoing, the finances from the China EXIM Bank.

“So they are the funds that have been released this week. So in addition to the N285 billion, there is up to about $220 million that has been released this week for counterpart funding for railway projects”, she said.

Also speaking, in response to a question at the briefing, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, said the Federal Government had begun consultations with relevant stakeholders on a possible reduction of the pump price of petrol in the wake of the crash of crude oil prices.

He, however, clarified that no decision had been made to cut the pump price, saying that consultations were on.

“We are still consulting. We are still following it closely. Of course, usually, the product prices follow the crude oil price, but we are still consulting. We will get back to you, please, be patient,” he stated.

Also speaking, the CBN Governor, Mr Emefiele, said the rise in exchange rate that had been observed in the wake of COVID-19 was the work of some people he tagged as unscrupulous elements, who were taking advantage of the situation to cause panic.

He, however, assured that all necessary steps were being taken to put the activities of those behind the artificial panic to check, noting that there were no indices that could lead to an escalation of FOREX market.

He said: “On the issue of the spike in the rate at the Bureau de Change (BDC) segment of the market, let me say that some of you might have read about the release by the Central Bank of Nigeria yesterday (Thursday) evening and our assessment of what has happened is that, this is the activities of some unscrupulous speculators who thought they could take advantage of what is happening to begin to speculate on the currency.

“I am saying it is speculative because if you imagine that manufacturing firms where we are even importing our raw materials whether they are in China, Europe or South Korea where you need electronic, all those plants have been shut down. So where is the demand for forex coming from? Airlines have shut down, people are not travelling, most of the airlines have no passengers, so where is the demand for foreign exchange coming from?

“This is just the activities of some unscrupulous individuals and we are determine to find them, and when we find them, we will use them as scapegoats so that this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.”

Vibrant Commordities Market Will Create Jobs, End Poverty – Osinbajo

Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has stated that a vibrant commordities market will create jobs and reduce poverty in Nigeria.

Osinbajo, spoke at the beginning of a 2-day International Conference on the Nigerian Commodities Market (ICNCM 2020), with the theme: Commodities Trading Ecosystem: “Key to diversifying Nigeria’s economy” organized by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in Abuja.

Represented at the occasion by Ambassador Maryam Katagun, the Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, the Vice President, stated that Nigeria is endowed with favorable atmospheric conditions for farming as well as abundant natural resources and teaming youthful population, which if efficiently harnessed will benefit both the public and private sectors of the economy.

he said” our country is endowed with favorable atmospheric conditions for farming as well as abundant natural resources and teaming youthful population.
“Hence efficient use of these resources will benefit both the public and private sectors of our economy.
” With a vibrant commodities markets jobs will be created. Poverty will be reduced micro economic situation of the country will improve.
“Definitely every responsible government is interested in seeing these improvements and this is at the heart of our administration’s policies and projects implementation
“In realisation of these objectives, the federal government has put many initiatives in place to develop the agriculture and solid mineral sectors” stated the Vice President.

In her address, Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, noted that the theme of the conference has always been relevant in Nigeria’s national discourse as several national plans, programmes and projects have targeted diversifying the production and revenue sectors of the economy.

According to the minister, while achievements have been made in these areas, there are needs to do more ensure that the country’s production and export base more robust and less vulnerable to external shocks as well as provide more opportunities for the growing population.

She noted that the recent outbreak of Coronavirus has further strengthen the federal government’s resolve to diversifying the economy hence the theme of the conference was apt and timely.

“With the topics that have been scheduled in this two day event, and the quality of the speakers, I am further assured that the outcomes of this conference will be beneficial to the Capital Market but most importantly to the national economy. Through this conference, I can see the Capital Market community add its voice to the need to further diversify our economy, while also suggesting that one of the ways to this is to develop a vibrant commordities trading ecosystem. Our country is well endowed with various Commordities comprising agriculture, energy and mineral resources. For instance, the agricultural sector employs about 40% of our labour force, and accounts for 22% of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP), she said.
In her opening remarks, Acting Director General of the SEC, Ms. Mary Uduk said one of the key initiatives of the 10 year Capital Market Master Plan is the development of a thriving commodities trading ecosystem as part of the capital market’s contribution to the national economy.

According to her, while it is clear that Nigeria is well endowed with agricultural, metals and energy commodities, our potentials in these areas are unrealised.

She said, “The good news however, is that the capital market can be used as an avenue to unlock these potentials and diversify the nation’s economy, while providing jobs, creating values and contributing to governments’ revenue.

“We believe that if we can develop and institutionalise a vibrant commodities trading ecosystem in Nigeria, we can substantially address problems such as lack of storage, poor pricing, non-standardization, as well as low foreign exchange earnings affecting our agriculture and other commodities sub-sectors”.

Senator, Ibikunle Amosun, Chairman Senate Committee on Capital Market, while commending SEC for organizing the programme noted that the conference will provide a platform for stakeholders to rub minds and cross fertilize ideas for the purpose of diversifying Nigeria’s economy.