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IMF Casts Gloom Clouds Over Nigeria’s Economy 

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By Lukman Otunuga, Senior Research Analyst at FXTM

How Nigeria navigates through the coronavirus storm will certainly influence its economic outlook well beyond 2020.

Over the past few months, the COVID-19 menace has wreaked havoc across Africa’s largest economy, digging its poisonous claws into major industries and sectors. No prisoners were taken, as manufacturing, agriculture, services and oil fell victim to the widespread disruptions. Although the country was able to expand 1.87% during the first quarter of 2020, the outlook for the rest of the year remains depressing thanks to a combination of negative external and domestic factors. Major institutions including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have expressed concerns over Nigeria’s outlook. It was only yesterday that the IMF said that economic growth will contract by 5.4% this year compared to the -3.2% estimate in April.

In the past, Nigeria has experienced many trials ranging from severely depressed oil prices, US-China trade uncertainty and slowing economic growth in China among many other themes but COVID-19 is different. Africa’s largest economy is dealing with a health crisis that presents lasting psychological consequences on business confidence and consumer behaviour. The next few months may rough and rocky, especially when factoring how oil-output curbs could deepen thanks to recorded coronavirus cases in some offshore oil sites and remote locations. With revenue from crude and natural gas exports reportedly falling 31% from February amid low oil prices, this places the Central Bank of Nigeria and government in a tricky position. If foreign exchange reserves and government revenues decline during the second half of 2020, there will be limited ammunition to defend against COVID-19.

Speaking of ammunition, Nigeria has approved a whopping 2.3 trillion Naira economic stimulus plan to help the disruptions caused by this health crisis. The World Bank has also approved a $750 million loan to Nigeria’s power sector, something that could support the private sector. It will be interesting to see whether the combination of monetary policy and fiscal policy will be enough to guide Nigeria through the current storm.


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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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Customers at the Heart of Everything @ Nova Merchant Bank-  MD

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Nova Merchant Bank Limited has a sound risk management structure, good understanding of the business environment and customer base, according to Anya Duroha, its managing director/chief executive officer (CEO).

Customers Are at the Heart of Everything @ Nova Merchant Bank-  MD

Anya Duroha

Duroha  also said that the bank’s clients are at the heart of everything they do at Nova, adding that “this is enshrined in our promise to our customers. We provide end to end financial services solutions covering corporate banking, investment banking”

According to Duroha the bank’s Non-Performing Loan (NPL) ratio has remained at zero per cent and that the bank did not take any forbearance from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to restructure its loans.

Speaking at virtual interactive session with reporters in Lagos, he said that despite the economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare businesses and their value-chain were  thriving.

He advised financial institutions to embrace innovation, while understanding the businesses they are funding.

He added: “The traditional ways of doing business cannot suffice. Therefore, every bank or financial institution needs to get very creative about the products they sell and how they offer these services in the market.”

He pointed out, however, that despite the pandemic, there are sectors that are doing in the market. He listed these to include information technology, fintechs and healthcare.

“Therefore, banks would need to refocus and support those industries clearly, even while fulfilling their role of working with the sectors that are not performing very well, to bring them back on stream. It is something we take very seriously. One of the things we do at the advisory side of our business is also to work with industries we had identified that are struggling to see how we can work with them,” he said.

According to him, since inception, Nova Merchant Bank has been an information technology-driven bank. This, he said has placed the bank above its peers in the industry.

 


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Expert Urges Fresh Focus to Fight Cyber-fraud

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Aribidesi Lawal, risk manager, Visa West Africa, has cautioned that the change in consumer habit that has led to increased online shopping among consumers also comes with the attendant risk from fraudsters who are beginning to trail shoppers online, with the intent to defraud them.

Expert Urges Fresh Focus to Fight Cyber-fraud

He said as the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact were likely to extend into 2021 and beyond, consumers and merchants must begin to adapt to safe and reliable digital commerce, which he said would address the threat from online fraudsters who seek to defraud shoppers that have found online shopping as a convenient channel to trade on goods services.

According to him, nearly every part of daily life of consumers has changed as the world continues to fight back against COVID-19.

Most observers agree that the increased focus on digital commerce by consumers and merchants will likely remain even after a vaccine is found and the economy rebounds, he said.

“It is therefore important for merchants and financial institutions to adapt now to support consumer behavior through safe, reliable digital commerce, Lawal said.

He explained that the pandemic had forced more consumers to shop online, but cautioned that the shift to online channels by consumers has also triggered a shift by the fraudsters.

Citing the global increase in the number of consumers that shop online Lawal said: “In Nigeria, more consumers turned to online shopping for the first time with 42 per cent of shoppers starting to purchase food via e-Commerce platforms.

“In South Africa, in-store physical activity greatly dwindled, with 63 per cent consumers visiting physical grocery stores less often. In Kenya, consumers’ preference for digital solutions is fast increasing as customers turned online for shopping. About 43 per cent of consumers started purchasing from pharmacies online.

“In the United States, Visa credentials active in spending on e-Commerce channels, excluding travel, were over 12 per cent higher in June than in January. Moreover, when you examine the active credentials who tend to be more significantly engaged in e-Commerce, the spend per active credential increased by over 25 per cent. In the United Kingdom, active e-Commerce credentials increased 16 per cent, while spend per active credential increased 3 per cent.”

He, however, said where consumers go, fraudsters follow and Visa’s Payment Fraud Disruption (PFD) team had seen a similar shift in fraudulent activities/fraud attempts from in-store to online.

According to him, “Between March and April 2020, there was a rise in fraudsters establishing short-term “COVID”-named merchants and using these fraudulent merchants to perform account testing and enumeration.

“This is where fraudsters use merchants or financial institutions to guess account numbers, expiration dates and CVV2/security codes through automated testing. This activity is often marked by high volumes of low-dollar declines.

“Our Visa team also saw an increase in ecommerce skimming attacks, where fraudsters inject malicious JavaScript code into the websites of merchants and service providers to digitally harvest payment information such as billing address, account number, expiration date, and CVV2 from the checkout forms on ecommerce pages.

“In April 2020 alone, PFD identified 90 merchant websites compromised by multiple variants of eCommerce skimmers.”

Fortunately, fraud prevention capabilities such as Visa Account Attack Intelligence, which prevents account testing, and Visa eCommerce Threat Disruption, which prevents online skimming, are free of charge and are among the many fraud prevention layers and security benefits available to Visa clients, Lawal said.

 


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Ecobank’s Omni Lite App to Enhance Business Accounts Management

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Ecobank Nigeria has launched the Omni Lite App, an application designed to enhance account management.

The Omni Lite App, is targeted at enhancing the banking experience of its large pool of Commercial Banking customers.

The App is a highly secure, world-class and integrated electronic banking platform designed to help Clients manage their Business accounts online in a secure, flexible, efficient and convenient manner.

It is a fully integrated multi-geography, multi-lingual and multi-currency online, web-based cash management platform. The App is being launched by the Ecobank Group across 33 countries in Africa where the Bank operates.

Speaking in Lagos,  Carol Oyedeji, Executive Director, Commercial Banking, Ecobank Nigeria, said the new App is in line with Ecobank’s policy direction to meet and surpass customers’ expectations, noting that it will bring flexibility, safer and convenient banking to the users. She disclosed that it is available to existing Omni Lite users, urging them to download it from the Apple Store (IOS) or the Play Store (Android).

“With the new Omni Lite App, users can view their accounts and transactions in one place, make payments and pay bills with ease, set up multiple users with different access launch, make and manage loan payment, book time deposits and view exchange rates.

This electronic portal also allows customers manage all their online business, banking transactions and information 24/7.  With easier navigation and experience that is perfectly suited to smartphones, clients can enjoy features similar to the desktop version.” She stated

The Ecobank Omni Lite App enables faster processing of instructions with loading option or file import for mass payments. It also features a customizable environment with choice of language, time zone and comprehensive user-friendly navigation menu.

Its state-of-the-art architecture meets international safety standards and it is designed to enhance productivity and manage cash flow. These largely enhance the cash management capabilities of Businesses which include account services, payments, collections, liquidity management, detailed and customisable reports, amongst others.


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