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Interswitch Group Unveils Coordinated Interventions Against COVID-19

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Interswitch Group, one of Africa’s leading integrated payment & digital commerce players has announced a series of intervention measures as part of a coordinated effort to complement ongoing efforts from public and private sector perspectives to address the spread and mitigate the negative impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.

Inspired to make a difference as far as playing their part in fighting the scourge, employees of the company have rallied together to voluntarily contribute various amounts from their compensation, raising a total of 75 million Naira in an employee-led effort, which the company has supplemented with the sum of N230 million, thereby bringing the funds raised towards the organization’s COVID-19 response effort to a grand total of N305 million Naira.

This is coming on the heels of concerted efforts by good-spirited individuals and corporate organisations to support the Federal and State governments in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

This intervention fund from the Interswitch Group and its employees is being deployed to provide support to Federal & State Governments, as well as some selected private sector-led initiatives.

The primary focus of the fund is supporting the creation and equipment of isolation centres, purchasing COVID-19 Test kits, providing personal protective gear and related support to frontline heath workers and to setting up foodbanks to cater to under-privileged communities in Lagos.

Execution has commenced with Interswitch’s Verve Brand, which has sealed a partnership with the Lagos State Feeding Program to provide raw material food items for poor & vulnerable communities in Lagos.  Interswitch also supported The Young President’s Association (YPO) and the Lagos State government in setting up the already functional Eti-Osa isolation centre in Lagos.

The fund has also supported the Delta State Government by providing tropicalized ultra-low temperature (ULT) laboratory refrigerators that will be used for the storage of reagents and other laboratory consumables and COVID-19 test samples pending when they will be transported to the designated COVID-19 Testing Laboratory in Irrua, Edo State.

The company is finalizing discussions with states including Edo, Enugu, Kaduna, Ogun and Oyo with a view to providing test kits and personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline health workers in these states.

Furthermore, by way of providing free technology for the use of governments and healthcare authorities, Interswitch has leveraged its core capabilities as a technology company and systems integrator, manifested through the initiative of eClat Healthcare, Interswitch’s health-tech subsidiary company, in building out a user-friendly, locally-nuanced software application which is useful for members of the public as a first-line intervention for the assessment of risk and pre-disposition to the novel Coronavirus infection.

The software platform analyses users’ information provided from answers to a series of questions around risk factors, recent exposure, observed symptoms, health and travel history.

From an epidemiological mapping perspective, the application also offers insight-based analytics, based on its capabilities to track and aggregate insights into geographical heat-maps which highlight areas in which pre-disposition is deemed to be higher, to optimize decisioning and ultimately enable prioritization of interventions, a key value proposition to public healthcare authorities.

This initiative essentially serves to provide guided and up-to-date information on COVID-19, reduce panic, lower gross footfall to medical facilities, being a first-line checkpoint and ultimately reduce risk of exposure to health workers on the frontlines of fighting the pandemic.

Designed with an interactive interface, the solution facilitates further virtual consultation for infected persons, meaning infected persons can stay in their homes and access consultation as to whether their symptoms give cause for alarm or not.

The eClat Health-tech solution supporting State Governments’ response to COVID-19 has been implemented in 20 states across the country.

It is currently in use in Lagos State’s Eti-Osa isolation centre, and in Edo, Ogun and Oyo States, while it has been implemented and is set to go live in Delta, Kaduna, Bayelsa, Yobe and Jigawa States, where healthcare personnel have also been trained in readiness to go-live.  The system has been primed for the other states which are at various stages of implementation, training and approval to go live.  These are Kano, Katsina, Rivers, Abia, Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi, Akwa Ibom and Imo States.

Also by way of exploring collaborative private-sector led initiatives to complement the drive of Federal & State Governments as well as public health authorities to mitigate the spread of the pandemic, Interswitch will leverage its existing partnership with players such as PAX Technology  (a leading international provider of Point-of-Sale payment terminals) to provide essential medical consumables and supplies such as N95 facial masks and thermometers as part of the quest to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.

Interswitch has also expressed a commitment to leveraging its creative capabilities, social and digital media assets to roll out awareness and sensitization campaigns to propagate WHO-approved messaging & information on COVID-19, under the umbrella platform of #FlattenTheCov.

Commenting on the essence of these interventions, Mitchell Elegbe, Founder and Group Chief Executive Officer at Interswitch opined that;

“These interventions sit well within the context of our corporate mission; to create transaction solutions that enable individuals and communities prosper across Africa.

“Our efforts are underpinned by the realization that this pandemic, if left unchecked is a potent threat to interactions which facilitate entrepreneurship and commerce, without which inclusive prosperity will remain a pipe dream.

It is our desire and earnest hope that these initiatives, aggregated with the goodwill and committed efforts of many other like-minded corporate entities and well-meaning individuals who have rallied to this noble cause would significantly contribute to the flattening of the COVID-19 infection curve in Nigeria, which remains one of Africa’s most important economic hubs”.

By virtue of the alliance with technology providers such as PAX, Interswitch has also underscored commitment by the partners to promote the adoption of contactless point-of-sale payment solutions across the West Africa market.

Contactless payment solutions include payments with contactless-enabled credit and debit cards, as well as QR codes, underscored by the realization that the widespread adoption of contactless payment solutions have greater propensity to better mitigate the spread of COVID-19.


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Customers to Access up N3m in New UBA Credit Card, Flexible Repayment Plans

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United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Pan African financial institution, has introduced the new UBA Naira Credit Card to its teeming customers in fulfilment of its promise to ease accessibility to funds and improve the overall standard of living.

Customers to Access up N3m in New UBA Credit Card, Flexible Repayment Plans

Kennedy Uzoka

With the new UBA Naira Credit Card, customers whose salary accounts have been domiciled with the bank for a minimum of three months and are employees of corporates under UBA’s approved counterparty list with minimum net monthly income of N250,000 are in for a stress-free business and personal lifestyle.

They will be qualified to access up to N3m credit, with extremely flexible repayment plans of as low as 10% of their monthly outstanding due.

Specifically, these customers aged between 18 and 57years who apply for the UBA credit card will also enjoy easy access to funds with a revolving line of credit and up to 45 days interest free credit, flexible repayment options; amazing discounts at select merchant locations including Restaurants, Boutiques, among other mouth-watering benefits.

The UBA credit card also allow ATM withdrawals in Nigeria or abroad wherever the Visa logo is displayed while allowing ease of payment of goods and services locally and Internationally on POS/WEB terminals where the Visa logo is displayed.

Sampson Aneke, group head, Digital Banking, UBA, said that as a bank that is interested in the welfare of Nigerians, UBA is always on the forefront of developing products and services aimed at creating wealth, easing living conditions and meeting the needs of its customers all over the world.

He said, “At UBA, we recognise that access to credit is fundamental to the creation of wealth and value in the economy.  Unfortunately, the country has been challenged in this regard with only about 2% of the population presently having access to bank loans.

“It is in addressing these developmental and household challenges that the bank has in recent times developed and introduced a number of unique lending products to the market, with the latest being the innovative UBA credit card.”

Aneke who spoke glowingly about all the benefits that the banks’ customers stand to enjoy from the credit card explained that the UBA Credit card is currently available as Visa Gold card with a card limit of between N75,000 to N1,000,000 and Visa Platinum card with a limit of between N1,000,001 to N3,000,000 and can be used locally and internationally at any ATM or POS outlet which has the Visa logo, WEB (online), and POS terminals.

“There is an interest free period  of 45 days on POS/Web transactions provided 100% repayment is made on the repayment due date and customers are entitled to 30% (annualized) of their monthly salary as credit card limit subject to the existing Debt Service Ratio (DSR).  The monthly repayment cycle will run from the 15th of every month to the 15th of the next month and the credit card statement showing transactions details within the period and the amount due for repayment will be sent to the cardholders’ registered email address,” Aneke said.

He explained that to get the card, customers can walk into any UBA branch or visit the bank’s website at www.ubagroup.com to download the credit card application form, fill it and submit to the Customer Service Officer at any UBA branch nationwide.

United Bank for Africa is a leading pan-African financial institution offering banking services to more than twenty million customers globally.

With footprint in 20 African countries and presence globally in the United Kingdom, the USA and France,

UBA is connecting people and businesses across Africa through retail, commercial and corporate banking, innovative cross border payments and remittances, trade finance and ancillary banking services.


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Access Bank in Discussion For Acquisition Of Zambian Bank

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Access Bank Plc has entered into exclusive discussions with Cavmont Capital Holdings Zambia Plc on the acquisition of Cavmont Bank Limited.

In a regulatory filing at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Access Bank said the discussions bothered on a potential transaction between Access Bank Zambia and Cavmont Bank Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cavmont Capital.

“The potential transaction relates to the sale of 100 per cent of Cavmont Capital’s interest in Cavmont Bank to Access Bank Zambia. There can be no certainty that a transaction will be agreed, nor as to the terms of any such agreement”.

According to Access Bank, the completion of a transaction would be subject to formal regulatory approvals.

“Access Bank will update the market as appropriate and in accordance with its’ disclosure obligations,” it said.

Accordingly, shareholders are advised to exercise caution when dealing in Access Banks securities until a full announcement is made.


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Record US COVID-19 Cases Can’t Halt the Equity Rally

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By Hussein Sayed, Chief Market Strategist at FXTM

Equity markets have pushed higher in Asia following an impressive last hour rally on Wall Street yesterday. The record daily increase in US COVID-19 infections and the sharp rise in deaths has proved no barrier to the bulls. Rises in Apple and Amazon stocks sent the Nasdaq Composite to a new record high of 10,492, while the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.78% and 0.68% respectively.

The current environment has led to the closure of the $2.8 billion Lansdowne Partners’ flagship equity long/short hedge fund. The lack of short winning strategies may even force more hedge funds to follow Lansdowne’s footsteps. The stimulus-driven market has made life for long/short strategies extremely difficult as relying on traditional valuation metrics to find short opportunities have failed throughout the latest bull market, and even throughout much of the previous 12 years since the Great Financial Crisis.

Fundamentals and valuations appear to be of limited influence on investor’s decision making. The fear of missing out, or “FOMO”, monetary and fiscal policy actions, low yields, lower interest rates for longer, are some of the factors that have led to this structural change in markets. If the Fed can keep zombie companies alive by keeping the lending taps open, why wouldn’t investors profit from these actions? However, the Fed cannot keep running these measures forever, and for many corporates relying on debt to stay afloat, sooner or later they will fail if they can’t return to profitability.

As always there is the good and the bad news. Depending on where investors put more weight is what drives asset prices and that is what leads to extreme highs and lows. Looking at where US stocks stand at the moment, it seems lots of the good news is already priced in. So even if bulls decide to keep pushing higher, the upside is likely to be limited from current levels unless we learn that an effective vaccine will hit the markets before year end and will be available for most of the population. If investors truly believed that the economy was returning to pre-pandemic levels soon, Gold wouldn’t be standing today at 9-year high, so it’s evident that investors who are participating in this risk-on rally are also hedging their positions by adding safe havens for their safety net.


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