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Improved Access to Affordable Trade Finance Could Increase Exports & Imports by $26B Annually in West Africa – IFC and WTO Study

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Lowering trade finance costs could provide billions in economic benefits in four West African countries, according to a new report released today by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The report, Trade Finance in West Africa, examined the major barriers to trade finance in the four largest economies of the region – Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal – which face a trade finance shortage of up to $14 billion annually.

The analysis showed that while trade flows have been on the rise in the four countries, their potential remains constrained by limited and costly access to trade finance.

Lowering costs and increasing availability of trade finance could boost exports and imports in the four countries by up to $26 billion annually. Most opportunities lie in trade within the Economic Communication of West African States (ECOWAS), trade with other African countries, and with developing countries outside the continent.

“Global trade finance gaps increased during the pandemic. Supply chain pressures, inflation, and the war in Ukraine have only exacerbated the problem,” said IFC Managing Director Makhtar Diop.

“This study couldn’t be timelier. There is enormous potential for an economic boost in West Africa by harnessing intra-Africa trade, but we will need coordinated action from governments, the private sector, and multilaterals to build the capacity of local lenders and improve access for SMEs.”

The report also found that most banks provide finance for consumer goods but sectors such as agriculture and infrastructure are underserved.

And while trade finance supports 40 percent of Africa’s imports and exports, and up to 80 percent globally, the trade finance market in the four countries studied only supports 25 percent of merchandise trade.

This low coverage is mainly due to expensive offerings and high rejection rates from banks, which fall disproportionately on small and medium-sized enterprises, particularly those owned by women.

Financial institutions, meanwhile, perceive many applicants as high-risk and lacking collateral, while also reporting difficulties in meeting requirements of foreign correspondent banks and shortages of low-cost funding.

IFC and WTO identified five opportunities than can increase the provision of trade finance, including expanding the range of firms that can access trade finance through efforts like IFC’s Africa Trade Recovery Initiative.

Other opportunities include building capacity of local lenders and local firms; integrating trade finance into the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area; strengthening foreign correspondent banking relationships; and supporting decision-making through better data and analytics.

“Trade finance is the indispensable oil for trade and the WTO is proud to be part of an effort to provide evidence-based solutions to help close the trade finance gap,” said WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. ”

“At the WTO, we are happy to act as a conduit for a dialogue on trade finance, bringing together governments, banks, SMEs, and professional organizations. We look forward to partnering with financial institutions to transfer this knowledge locally.”

The joint IFC-WTO report surveyed nearly all financial institutions providing trade finance in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal, conducted an in-depth background analysis of importers and exporters performance, and built forward-looking scenarios to study the effects of improving access to affordable trade finance.

 


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E-Financial

Eight Important Steps to Secure Your PalmPay Account

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In today’s digital age, securing your financial transactions and personal information is more important than ever.

According to the 2023 NIBSS Annual Fraud Landscape report, incidents of “Fraud loss via Internet Banking increased by 325% between 2022 and 2023, with Mobile, Web and POS being the most exploited channels by fraudsters in the country.”

At PalmPay, we prioritise the security of our users’ accounts, ensuring that your financial activities are safe and secure. But we also require you to be informed on the right steps and actions to take to secure your account. Here are eight crucial steps to help you secure your PalmPay account:

  1. Create Strong Passwords

Passwords should be complex but easy to remember. To prevent your account from being hacked, use a complex password with a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters, for example (GOdsent123@) and avoid using easily guessable information like birthdays, pet names, names for passwords and numbers that appear in chronological order.

At the minimum, we advise you to change your password across all your online platforms every 3 months.

  1. Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Where applicable, enable two-step authentication for your online banking to ensure an extra layer of security. Because this requires that a second form of verification is sent to your mobile device, it makes hacking your bank account difficult. Users of the PalmPay app can enjoy its built-in safety and security features.

  1. Monitor Your Account Regularly

Safety may begin with ‘S’ but it starts with ‘You’. The human component of safety is as important as the technology side. Bank security measures are not enough to protect your money; follow safety precautions to enhance your account security. You are less prone to financial attacks when you keep an eye on your bank statements and transaction history and immediately report any discrepancies to your bank customer support

  1. Do Not Disclose Your PIN, Password and OTP

Your PIN is called a Personal Identification Number for a reason. You must avoid sharing such and other sensitive information and be cautious about sharing your personal information online, especially on social media.

Thread carefully when using a bank or making payments through a point of sale (POS). Always stay vigilant and watch out for possible irregularities while patronising POS agents.

In addition, don’t disclose your password and OTP (One-Time Password) to anyone.

  1. Regularly Update Banking Apps

Failure to regularly update your banking app leaves your account open to fraudsters. This is because the latest bank app updates often include security enhancements like PalmPay’s auto-logout feature. This security feature requires users to always input their PIN when they reopen the app after each logout.

  1. Check Your Transaction Again

We understand how busy we could be in our day-to-day activities but you can always take an extra to check your transaction details before paying. Avoid falling into the trap of erroneous transactions by having a second look at the transaction.

With the PalmPay app, you get a warning pop-up to confirm the transaction details before paying.

  1. Beware of phishing attempts

There are going to be numerous phishing attempts during this period. Be cautious about emails, messages, or phone calls asking for personal information. Do not click on links or download attachments from suspicious sources. Legitimate financial platforms like PalmPay won’t call, text or email requesting your personal information.

  1. Education, Education, Education

Educate yourself by staying informed about common scams and fraud tactics, and be cautious about clicking on links in emails or text messages, especially if they seem suspicious. We are big on financial literacy in PalmPay. Take advantage of our Wallet Safety Workshops to educate yourself on best safety practices via our social media platforms or website www.palmpay.com

 


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Flutterwave Sacks 24 Workers in a Staff Reorganization

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Flutterwave has laid off 24 staff members in a workforce reorganisation move.

This is as the payment company announced that it is doubling down on its core business, enterprise payments and remittance segment, Send App. “As a result, we have rebuilt the teams to more efficiently utilise the opportunities in these markets.

“Consequently, we’ve made the difficult decision to support the transition of 24 Wavers accounting for about 3 percent of our workforce,” Olugbenga Agboola, founder and chief executive officer at Flutterwave said yesterday.

 


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Why investors will buy Fidelity Banks offers, by capital market stakeholders

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Fidelity Bank Plc started its N127.1 billion combined rights and public offers to a rousing support from the investing public as key capital market stakeholders recalled the symbolic importance of Fidelity Banks impressive growths and investor-friendly disposition over the years.

From the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) to stockbrokers, investors and customers; the N127.1 billion combined rights and public offer received unreserved recommendations, with industry thought leaders citing the performance of Fidelity Bank in its core banking operations and as a quoted company at the stock market.

They said Fidelity Banks N127.1 billion combined rights and public offer was the right way for the nations banking recapitalisation exercise to start as the bank, which has the highest corporate governance rating and an average annual capital gain of more than 100 per cent at the stock market, has strong appeal to the investing public.

Fidelity Bank is offering a rights issue of 3.2 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each at N9.25 per share. The bank is also simultaneously offering 10 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each to the general investing public at N9.75 per share.

The acceptance and application lists for the rights issue and public offer, which opened on Thursday, June 20, 2024, are scheduled to close on Monday, July 29, 2024. The rights issue has been pre-allotted on the basis of one new ordinary share for every 10 existing ordinary shares held as at the close of business on Friday, January 05, 2024.

The Doyen of Stockbrokers, the oldest practicing stockbroker, Alhaji Rasheed Yussuff, said Fidelity Bank has good records going for it with its history of impressive growth and profitability and dividend payments.

According to him, the bank is known to the market as a good investment, with evident records of impressive returns and corporate responsibility.

Yussuff, who was already a leading stockbroker and managing director of Trust Yields Securities Limited in 2004-2005 when Fidelity Bank launched its initial public offering (IPO) and listed its shares at the stock market, said the bank has been hitting all positive records that should encourage investors to buy more into it.

Referencing the banks impressive returns, Yussuff, who has more than five decades in the capital market and was principal dealing clerk for ICON Limited/ICON Stockbrokers in 1976, particularly noted that Fidelity Bank has been paying good dividends.

Chairman, Association of Securities Dealing Houses of Nigeria (ASHON), Mr Sam Onukwue, who recalled the founding days of Fidelity Bank in 1987, said he had watched Fidelity Bank sustained commendable growth trajectory over the years.

He said the bank has shown exceptional growth and resilience, rising from being a private merchant in 1987 to becoming one of the largest, publicly quoted commercial banks in Nigeria. Fidelity Bank is one of the seven Nigerian banks with international banking licences.

Onukwue, who is also managing director of Mega Equities Limited, said Fidelity Banks history of performance underlines the strength of its management, noting that the bank has proven to be able to keep investors trust.

Chairman, Nigerian Exchange (NGX), Mr. Ahonsi Unuigbe said the combined offer marked a pivotal moment for the bank and the financial services sector.

This is a testament to Fidelity Banks unwavering commitment to strengthening its own capital base and ensuring sustainable growth through amazing roles played by all of the professional parties to this transaction, Unuigbe, an investment banker and former director at Standard Bank, said.

He said the new banking recapitalisation is aimed at bolstering the resilience and stability of the nations financial institutions.

According to him, the ongoing recapitalisation has set robust minimum capital requirements that will ensure Nigerian banks are not only more solvent, but also capable of supporting the growth and development of the economy.

Acting Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Exchange (NGX), Mr. Jude Chiemeka, commended Fidelity Bank for its performance and willingness to avail the investing public of every relevant information.

He assured that the NGX remains committed to supporting companies like Fidelity Bank in its quests to deepen the capital markets and fostering an environment conducive to sustainable growth and innovation.

Founder, KAM Holding, Dr Kamoru Yusuf, said Fidelity Bank has shown to be an exceptional bank with focus on the development of Nigerian economy and companies.

He said investing in Fidelity Bank will be an investment in the growth of Nigerian economy and companies like KAM Holding, the nations largest wholly indigenous metal and steel production company.

Yusuf, whose group has metamorphosed into a global business conglomerate operating in three countries across two continents, confirmed that KAM Holding has benefited immensely from financial supports from Fidelity Bank.

Yusuf, who was physically present at a session at the NGX to present facts behind the offer to the investing public, underlined the relationship between increased capital for a business-focussed bank like Fidelity Bank and the overall development of the Nigerian economy.

Addressing the investing public at the NGX, Managing Director, Fidelity Bank Plc, Dr Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, reiterated the commitment of the bank to delivering impressive returns to shareholders and supporting the growth of the Nigerian economy.

She explained that the new capital raising by Fidelity Bank was driven by its proactive business expansion plan having secured shareholders approval to raise new equity funds as early as August 2023. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)s directive on new minimum capital was released in March 2024.

The offer will increase our capacity to support our customers and their businesses. In summary, this capital raise will help our customers to grow, their businesses to thrive, and their economy to prosper, Onyeali-Ikpe said.

She assured that with its groundswell of supports from enthusiastic shareholders, customers and stakeholders, the bank is on course to achieving the N500 billion new minimum capital base, which will clearly confirm the bank, beyond any doubt, as one of the biggest banks in Nigeria.

Onyeali-Ikpe noted that being the first bank to launch offer out of the many banks in Nigeria after the CBN directive, Fidelity Bank has shown again to be a pace-setter.

According to her, Fidelity Bank seeks the CBN recapitalization directive as a significant opportunity for a stronger and more resilient banking industry.

We have embraced the challenge as a catalyst to propel us, towards a long-term vision of becoming a market leader across every product that we offer and segment that we sell, not just in Nigeria, but as an international bank, Onyeali-Ikpe said.

She said the proceeds from the N127.10 billion capital raising exercise would be instrumental in achieving its strategic growth plan.

She highlighted that the funds, firstly, would be deployed to drive, business growth and regional expansion.

We will strategically expand our footprints within and outside Nigeria to serve as a broader customer base and to unlock new market opportunities.

Secondly, we will have what we call technological transformation. We are committed to leveraging proprietary technology to improve operational efficiency and deliver exceptional customer service.

Thirdly, we intend to diversify and grow. By investing in information technology (IT) infrastructure and product distribution channels, we will aim to diversify our earnings base through digitalization and business expansion, Onyeali-Ikpe said.

She said the management recognised the importance of investors and are committed to delivering value to them as well.
Our track record of accelerated growth and consistent dividend payment is a testament to this, Onyeali-Ikpe said.

A recent review had shown that Fidelity Bank outperformed all major market indices for measuring returns at the Nigerian stock market, with the banks average annual return over the past five years twice the average return by the overall market and almost four times of average return in the banking sector.

A review of official trading reports at the Nigerian stock market showed that investors in Fidelity Bank have earned more than 507 per cent in capital gains over the past five years, between May 31, 2019 and May 31, 2024
Fidelity Banks share price rose by 507.14 per cent over the period, representing average annual capital gain of 101.43 per cent. This significantly exceeds all other major return benchmarks, including the banking sector.

With 507 per cent capital gain in five years and average annual gain of more than 100 per cent, the return analysis implies that investment in Fidelity Bank is more attractive than other class of assets, including fixed-income securities such as government and corporate bonds; real estate investment and mutual funds among others.

These returns underscore Fidelity Banks immense value as a stock for all times, helping investors to hedge against inflation while preserving significant long-term value.

The high divisible nature of shares investment and high free float of Fidelity Bank, which makes the banks shares easily available, underline the bank as a most attractive investment option for all cadres of investors- small, medium and high networth; retail and institutional investors.

The All Share Index (ASI) – the common, value-based index that tracks all share prices at the Nigerian Exchange (NGX), which is widely regarded as Nigerias benchmark for equities market, recorded a five-year return of 219.61 per cent, an average annual return of 43.9 per cent.

Contrary to the significantly above average performance of Fidelity Bank, the NGX Banking Index-which tracks the banking sector, doubled by 120.53 per cent over the five-year period, representing average annual return of 24.11 per cent, more than 77 percentage points below Fidelity Banks average return.

Two other major price indices- the NGX 30 Index and NGX Main Board Index, recorded five-year cumulative return of 185.73 per cent and 265.6 per cent respectively, representing average annual gain of 37.15 per cent and 53.1 per cent respectively.

The NGX 30 Index tracks share prices of the 30 largest companies at the stock market while the NGX Main Board Index represents the largest and most diversified group of listed companies at the stock exchange. Fidelity Bank is quoted on the main board, like most other major banks and companies at the stock market.

The average annual return of 101.43 per cent underlines that Fidelity Bank provides substantial return for investors, even where such investors had borrowed money at the ruling interest rate and the invested fund was adjusted for impact of inflation rate.

Nigerias inflation rate peaked at a high of 33.69 per cent in April 2024 while the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) recently increased the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR), otherwise known as benchmark interest rate, to 26.25 per cent.
Fidelity Banks share price, which closed May 31, 2019 at N1.68 per share, rose successively to N10.20 per share by the end of May 2024.

The ASI had, during the period, rose from its opening index of 31,069.37 points to close weekend at 99,300.38 points. The NGX Banking Index rose from 361.57 points to 797.37 points. The NGX 30 Index, which opened the period at 1,286.68 points, closed the period at 3,676.44 points. The NGX Main Board Index appreciated from 1,267.54 points to close weekend at 4,634.31 points.


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