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Cashless Society: Is Nigeria Winning

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By Adeniyi Ogunfowoke

 

Technology is forcing both developed and emerging economies to innovate. The cashless society is one such innovation.

 

Cashless society according to Wikipedia describes an economic state whereby financial transactions are not conducted with money in the form of physical banknotes or coins, but rather through the transfer of digital information (usually an electronic representation of money) between the transacting parties.

 

The Beginning of the Cashless Society Drive

In Nigeria, the cashless society drive began in 2012. In order to limit the liquidity in circulation, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says that cash-based transactions should not exceed N500,000 for Individuals and N3,000,000 for Corporate bodies. The CBN added: “Our economy uses too much cash for transactions for goods and services, especially for buying and selling. This is not how it is done in other progressive countries of the world where there are other payment options such as, Debit and Credit Cards, Bank Transfers, Bank Direct Debits, Automated Teller Machines ( ATMs), and even Mobile Money. These achievements have been brought about by the changing needs of their people, competition among banks, and other companies, including changes in technology. Our major focus is to increase the volume of all available payments instruments in Nigeria.”

 

The Phase 1 of the scheme took off in Lagos on January 1, 2012, while additional states, namely Abia, Anambra, Kano, Ogun and Rivers States, as well as Abuja, were involved in Phase 2, which commenced on October 1, 2013. Phase 3 which is the final phase of the policy’s implementation commenced in the remaining 30 states of the federation on July 1st.

 

In other words, the cashless society has been managed and implemented for six years now. Six years down the line, is the Central Bank of Nigeria winning the cashless society war?

 

Is Nigeria Winning the Cashless Society War?

Despite the fact that Nigerians struggle to accept change, a good number of them, especially in the urban and semi-urban areas have wholeheartedly embraced the cashless society scheme. This is probably because they have no choice. You can say that the country is winning the cashless society war in urban areas.

 

Currently, you will find an average Nigerian or a market woman with an ATM card. To offer this more credence, data from an e-payment channel report in a series from the NBS, produced in collaboration with the CBN, reveal that 457 million transactions valued at N32trn were recorded on the channels in Q1 2018 and the NBS data also show that 54 million PoS transactions were recorded in Q1 2018, representing increases of 13% q/q and 101% y/y.

 

Furthermore, with a smartphone, you can use either Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) or mobile app to perform banking transactions at any time of the day. Again, the NBS report reveals that mobile payments recorded 15 million transactions valued at N329bn (US$1.07bn) in Q1. The value of the transactions grew by just 21% y/y and accounted for only 3.3% of total electronic transactions.

 

Off the cashless society policy, a notable achievement is the rise of digital payment gateways. Some of them include Jumia Pay, and others.

 

Owned by Jumia, Nigeria’s No.1 shopping destination, Jumia Pay enables Nigerians to make secure online payments while shopping on Jumia platforms. The payment gateway uses state-of-the-art technology and procedures to protect your online transactions. Interestingly, you get guaranteed 5% cashback for using Jumia Pay.

 

By the same token and in line with the cashless society policy, millions of customers who shop on Jumia, or book hotel and flights, or order food from their favourite restaurants now enjoy the services of Jumia Pay. This is because they can now pay for their transactions using Jumia Pay.

 

In addition to this, customers will enjoy 5% off all their orders on Jumia. If you combine this with the amazing Black Friday discounts Jumia is offering, customers will definitely save a lot of money whenever they shop on the ecommerce platform. The key reason for doing this is to encourage Nigerians to settle transactions through the use of digital payments rather than via cash.

 

Unequivocally, the painstaking efforts of the CBN in implementing the cashless policy are truly paying off. However, there is quite a lot to that still needs to be done. Many in the rural areas are yet to be reached.

 

They largely still use cash that is not even kept in the bank. This means there are still millions of unbanked Nigerians out there. The cashless society campaign needs to be taken to their doorsteps. Importantly, the cashless society message should be available in local languages. Ultimately, the CBN has to take a look again at the fees banks charge customers. Understandably, banks need to cover their costs and expenses but it should not be at the expense of their customers.

 

Sweden is the most cashless society on the planet, with barely 1% of the value of all payments made using coins or notes last year. Nigeria is nowhere near Sweden. But we are on the march towards a cashless society. The country only needs to integrate more inhabitants of rural areas into the scheme, effectively regulate banks and fintechs and continue to push the cashless society campaign.

 

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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Valentine’s Day Comes Early as 2K Supermarket Offers Amazing Bargains

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2k Supermart, the first discount store that sells everything N2000 or less, has curated a special section full of amazing items to make your Valentine’s Day gift shopping a breeze.

Valentine's Day Comes Early as 2K Supermarket Offers Amazing Bargains

You don’t have to break the bank, because 2k Supermart has picked out over 60 fun and fashionable gifts for men and women that you can shop, starting at just N2, 000.

The items on display includes: jewelry, chocolates, flowers, slippers, watches, candles and much more.

The supermarket which is located at 69 Alex Ekwueme Way Kado Estate by Gwarimpa and Kado Estate junction Abuja, also offers the best brands of grocery products at the lowest prices in town.

Customers can enjoy amazing prices on foot-wears, toys, stationery, kitchen and bathroom accessories, Beverages, Health and Beauty products, cleaning materials, party disposable items, gifts and More.

There is luggage master within the mall, Ice cream, Shawarma, Party Jollof rice, MoiMoi, Pastries, a Phone store,  Smoothie and Vegetable stands.

2k Supermart is a one stop family convenience stop.

 

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Pinnacle, ICPC Trade Words over Alleged Invasion, Harassment of Staff

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Management of Pinnacle Communications Ltd, on has condemned the alleged invasion of its Abuja office by operatives of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

Pinnacle, ICPC Trade Words over Alleged Invasion, Harassment of Staff

ICPC has however threatened legal action against 44 property owners including two buildings in Abuja belonging to Pinnacle Communications Ltd.

Pinnacle Communications in a statement by Abayomi Oyelola, its lawyer, said that “Pinnacle Communications condemns, in very strong terms, the illegal attempt by ICPC to harass and intimidate the company and its officials and unbridled attempt to shut down its business.

“The action of ICPC further confirms that they have been on a witch-hunt mission from the beginning and are bent on victimizing Pinnacle Communications in direct contravention of a statement credited to the Chairman of ICPC at a speech delivered at the inauguration of the Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit at the Federal Polytechnic, Ede, Osun State.

“This statement was reported online on 20 January 2020, admonishing the staff against victimising people when doing their job. We add that they should also not scandalize genuine and law-abiding enterprises such as Pinnacle Communications Limited.

“Pinnacles Communication, as a law-abiding entity, expresses concern on this show of shame undertaken by ICPC and brazing use of force.”

The firm urged the Bolaji Owasanoye, ICPC chairman, to “rein in his officers” and ensure they comply with the rule of law and forestall actions that could further sink the image of the Commission.

It said the invasion happened on January 15, at its office located on Charles De Gaulle Street, Asokoro, Abuja, with the ICPC officials allegedly citing an “order from above.”

Mr Oyelola said the company is a licensed Digital Switch-Over operator in Nigeria, describing the invasion as despicable and unwarranted.

According to the company, the ICPC operatives had reportedly stormed the office with fully armed policemen in four vehicles, three Hilux vans, and a car, dressed in ICPC jackets that authenticated their identities to arrest the chairman and to seal the company.

The company’s lawyer said during the encounter, it demanded the warrants of arrest and order of the court granting the sealing of the office that legally motivated their move.

“It is common sense in a civilized country like Nigeria that production of a warrant of arrest is the sine qua non to entering premises and attempt to arrest people and that without an order from a court of competent jurisdiction no agency of Government has the right to seal off any business premises. There are boundless legal authorities on this.

“We consider the futile attempted invasion, intimidation and threat as clear evidence of the desperation of ICPC. ICPC had filed charges relating to fraud against Pinnacle Communications and its directors. This case is still pending in court. Issues have been joined and witnesses called and cross-examined.

“We need not say more than that in order not to be contemptuous of the court handling the pending litigation. But can this be a sign that what they apparently cannot get through the court they want to get by force?”

He added that the operatives failed to produce any document but rather claimed that they were working with geographical coordinates.

It further said that its officials, “could hear the conversation and the operative said: ‘we are here already’, ‘we have not entered’, ‘they claim he is not around’, ‘No pressmen, nobody’. Afterwards, the operative on the telephone suddenly said to his colleagues ‘let’s go, let’s go, let’s go’, and they left hurriedly, like a botched operation.

The Pinnacle officials heard the operatives lamenting on their way to their vehicles that they should have shot (gunshot) their way into the premises as soon as they arrived. This no doubt amounted to regulatory terrorism.

The company urged Abubakar Malami, attorney general of the Federation and the minister of Justice, to help investigate the matter.

“We are also urging the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, to swiftly check the excesses of the ICPC and investigate this matter with a view to defeating the obvious display of prejudice in the agency’s dealings with Pinnacle Communication Ltd.

Recall that the ICPC in February 2019 filed a 12-count charge before Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa of the Federal High Court in Abuja, against Ishaq Kawu, director-general of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC); Lucky Omoluwa, and Dipo Onifade, chairman and chief operating officer of Pinnacle Communications Limited respectively, for allegedly misappropriating N2.5 billion.

Despite the ICPC failing to produce Lai Mohammed, minister of Information, to testify in court, a statement he made to the agency, tendered in court, indicated that he gave the approval for the release of N2.5 billion to the NBC, as seed grant for the Digital Switch Over project of the federal government.

Mr Mohammed was meant to explain his role in the alleged misapplication of the N2.5 billion funds for the federal government’s Digital Switch-Over (DSO) programme.

But the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission has threatened legal action against 44 property owners including two buildings in Abuja belonging to Pinnacle Communications Ltd.

In a letter to the Management of Pinnacle Communications, ICPC also dismissed allegation by the digital telecommunication company that its operatives illegally invaded their Abuja office..

A copy of the ICPC letter, dated Jan. 24 and signed by Mr Akeem Lawal, agency’s director of Operations, was made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday.

The anti-graft agency said its operatives stumbled on the buildings while investigating a “totally different” case of tax evasion.

The commission said the buildings were among 44 property (buildings and plots of land) whose list was forwarded to it by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for investigation.

The commission said FIRS requested the investigation after the ownership of the property was denied upon efforts to make their owners pay the relevant tax due.

According to ICPC, Pinnacle Communications was not mentioned as owners of any of the property on the list attached to the letter from FIRS.

It said its operatives arrived at the building in a bid to ascertain their coordinates and mappings as indicated by FIRS and confirmed by the FCT Department of Land Administration.

The commission dismissed Pinnacle’s “skewed and misleading’’ allegation as an attempt to link an honest investigative exercise with “the almost concluded case’’ against its chairman and others.

It further said that its operatives “do not go out to arrest persons in the course of locating property under investigation’’, contrary to the company’s allegation that they were there to kidnap the chairman.

“The reference at the briefing to the alleged lamentation of our staff `that they should have shot their way into the premises as soon as they arrived,’ is definitely far from the truth in the face of a legion of over ten armed mobile policemen on your premises.

“The commission deplores the bad faith evident in your media briefing and finds it really unprofessional that one of your counsels in the criminal case before the court, Abayomi Oyelola, who accosted our operatives after they had been denied entry into the premises by the policemen, was the same person that addressed the media on behalf of your company.

“Rather than come to our office the next day January, 16, 2020 as he had promised our officers, he thought otherwise and held a media briefing with the sole objective of painting the commission in bad light,’’ it said.

ICPC said since Pinnacle Communications had now claimed ownership of the two buildings, it should proceed to resolve the issue of ownership with the FCTA and tax evasion with FIRS.

The anti-graft agency gave the company three weeks from the date of the letter to act accordingly as it was prepared to take further legal actions on all the property

 

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CBN to maintain status quo on rates as inflation quickens

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Lukman Otunuga, Senior Research Analyst at FXTM,
 

The latest inflation figures from Nigeria will most likely deter the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from cutting interest rates anytime.

Consumer prices in Nigeria accelerated for the fourth straight month in December last year, hitting its highest level since April 2018 at 11.98% as food prices continued to climb amid the on-going border closure. With inflationary pressures making an unwelcome return into early 2020 and moving further away from the CBN 9% upper target band, the Naira will continue to be vulnerable. Although central bank Governor Godwin Emefiele said in November 2019 that “the impact of the border closures on inflation is temporary,” this may be questioned if inflation continues to escalate in 2020.

Rising inflationary pressures should force the CBN to maintain status quo on interest rates next week. However, all eyes will be on the loan to deposit ratio for banks which has been set to 65%. With monetary easing out of the question, the central bank could increase the loan to deposit rate to 70% in an effort to boost economic growth through investments in Nigeria’s real sector, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises.

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