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Sparkle Launches to Change the Face of Retail Services in Nigeria

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Sparkle, a mobile-first platform is launching in financial technology community and ecosystem, focused on the Nigeria’s retail sector.

Sparkle will tackle how retailers can achieve their daily objectives and scale their businesses, providing a suite of innovative lifestyle services, in addition to typical current and savings accounts that exist in the market.

In particular, Sparkle will deliver customer experience-led support services, ranging from inventory management and invoicing statements to foreign exchange services and a POS-via-mobile function.

Powered by AI and Machine Learning, Sparkle is building a dynamic community around Nigeria’s retailers and consumers, influencing purchasing decisions based on user-generated behavioral purchase data. This will actively support retailers in navigating a better route to market by directing the right consumers their way.

In a bid to drive wider financial inclusion and regulatory reform in the market, the team is also building a digital framework for retailers to register their companies, register for tax and register domains, as it looks to plug the gap in terms of business advisory and regulatory services for retail SMEs in the country.

Uzoma Dozie, Founder and CEO, Sparkle says “Retailers and consumers in Nigeria are currently disconnected; Sparkle is building the solution around its understanding of the challenges of small businesses, which will help reduce the operational risks small businesses are exposed to in their infancy.

Sparkle is a product, a community, born out of necessity for Nigeria’s retail landscape. We will connect millions of retailers on a digital platform, providing a service they can trust, that is seamless, and that allows for frictionless transactions across all activities and business services”.

“Having spent more than 20 years building out the retail arm of Diamond Bank, it is clear that there is a significant gap in the market to incubate and roll out a new approach to services for retailers, and at scale; they need a financial & business services partner, not another finance platform.

This is where we stand out from all others. Sparkle is a collaboration between retailer and customer – a support system that will ensure far greater financial inclusion and much improved access to market, built for many, built to scale”.

Set to launch in 2019, Sparkle will release plug-in APIs for the platform, to enhance convenience & service, whereby outside developers can contribute & build solutions.

The company has also entered into partnerships with Visa, Network International, as well as PricewaterHouseCoopers. They will also be working with Microsoft.

Retailers contribute 33% to total GDP and 45% of total employment in Nigeria and are a critical part of powering the Nigerian economy, however services available to small businesses have not been best suited.

Sparkle has identified lack of funding, poor access to market/network and lack of business training as the primary challenges for the sector, which is why the new platform will also provide access to mentorship and development.

Keen to pioneer diversity and financial inclusion, the Sparkle team has also identified women as a key demographic to collaborate with, as they play a key role in the new economy, with high adoption of tech to leverage on the flexibility of driving new businesses. Women are also essential in staying in touch and connecting with their millennial families.

During his tenure at Diamond Bank, Uzoma was responsible for ensuring technological innovation was central to the institution’s growth strategy.

From 2014-2018, Diamond Bank’s mobile app adoption rates grew from 206,000 to 3.3M, and he simultaneously focused on aggressively growing the bank’s retail arm to include 18M MSME customers.

He concludes, “Technology adoption is the only way retail can scale in Nigeria. We are in a new, digital economy. Retailers, individuals and businesses need the space and bandwidth to be creative and to build their business; we are building Sparkle as a wrap around for what they are already doing and we are levelling the playing field for all Nigerians, democratizing access and helping SMEs create their own luck.

Sparkle is for the many, not for the few and as we continue to build out the platform”.


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E-Financial

Stanbic IBTC, Standard Bank, Listed Among Top African Corporate Brands

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Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC and its parent company, Standard Bank, have emerged amongst the top winners of the 2020 Tech Times’ Africa LinkedIn Corporate Brand Awards.

The Stanbic IBTC Group emerged the second position in the category, with total votes of 3,515, out of 24 firms nominated for the award. Standard Bank placed the fourth 2,494 votes.

Nominations for this award opened to the public on July 1, 2020 and closed on July 14.

Shortlisted nominees were announced on August 24 while voting commenced immediately and voting ended on September 8, 2020.

The Corporate Brand Awards was instituted by Tech Times’ Africa, an online platform for leading technology, innovation, and startup stories.

Expressing his delight on the awards, Dr Demola Sogunle, Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, said that both Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC and Standard Bank had been deliberate and consistent in making a remarkable impact in Africa’s financial sector.

“Our sincere appreciation goes to the organisers of the Africa Corporate Brands Awards and to every member of the public who voted. This is a reflection of the high level of trust and confidence that the public has reposed on us,” he added.

Dr Sogunle further said that Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC would remain relentless in portraying the organisation as one of the most influential corporate brands in Africa.

He stated: “Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC and Standard Bank have relentlessly contributed to driving the growth and development of the African financial ecosystem. These awards affirm our efforts, and we are encouraged to raise the bar continually.”

The Africa Corporate Brand Award is designed to identify and recognise outstanding companies. It also projects their achievements and impacts on African society and the world at large.


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NAICOM Urges State Governments to Implement Compulsory Insurance

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The National Insurance Commission, NAICOM, is seeking collaboration especially from State Governments on implementation and enforcement of compulsory insurance.

Speaking during a meeting with the Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, the Commissioner for Insurance Sunday Thomas, noted that over the years, the Commission has embarked on series of programs aimed at a nationwide massive public enlightenment with respect to compliance with the laws on compulsory insurance.

As a subset of the Financial Services Industry, Insurance industry is a pivot to guarantee the sustainability of growth and development of the State and its people, said Thomas, adding, We have therefore noted the necessity to plant “Insurance” and “People” at the center of any equation that tends to create, enhance, sustain and manage growth and development in any economy.”

He said: “As a people, human activities have associated risks and in spite of every precautionary measure to avoid the occurrence of losses or damages, the unexpected still occur.

“In consequence of the losses the victims are prone to sufferings which in many cases may lead to total impoverishment of a large proportion of those affected. To ameliorate the situation of victims, laws have been put in place for an arrangement that will ensure that victims and especially third parties are adequately compensated.”

According to him, “the objectives of protecting third parties and relieving the government of the avoidable burden of compensation from the meagre wallet of the government led to the enactment of various laws on compulsory insurance products”.

Thomas listed the Compulsory Insurances to include, all buildings under construction that are more than two (2) floors (builders liability); all Public Buildings including Schools, offices, hotels, hospitals, markets (occupiers liability) etc; Group Life Insurance for all Employees of both Public and Private Sectors; Professional Indemnity for all Medical Practitioners and Third Party Motor Vehicle Insurance in respect of death, injury or damage to the property of third parties.

The Commissioner added that it is on the strength of the above that the Commission is seeking collaboration with the State government in the enforcement of the above mentioned compulsory insurances in the State.

“As the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum there is no better place to start the campaign than Ekiti State.” he said.

He also highlighted the benefits of this collaboration with State Governments, which include, Financial Compensation to the families of insured citizens who may become victims of a disaster through loss of their properties or become disabled in event of occurrence of insured accidents/disasters, robust group life insurance policy made compulsory by the Pension Reform Act 2014 gives hope to the workforce who will be ready to go extra mile in carrying out assign duties knowing fully well that the employer has made provision for the dependant in event of the unexpected and creation  of employment opportunities for citizens of the State.

Others are provision of grants and Fire-Fighting Equipment for the States’ Fire Services by NAICOM from the Fire Fund as stipulated in the Insurance Act 2003, reduction in the government expenditure in event of disaster that may affect the citizens of the State by shifting the burden to the risk-bearers (Insurance Companies), free Insurance and Risk Management Education and Enlightenment programme for the citizens of the State; and creation of additional source of internally generated revenue (IGR) for State Government in collaboration with your relevant Ministries and Agencies.

He therefore appealed to the Governor to graciously consider the benefits of the proposed collaboration for the enrichment of the State and the sustainability of the Nigeria economy at large.

The Commissioner also requested the Governor to domesticate the compulsory insurances in the State and create a structure that can be supported by NAICOM in the enforcement of the compulsory insurances and also nominate an Agency of the Government that will serve as liaison office with the Commission in this collaboration.

“The nominated agency may be requested to work with the Team of the state who shall be dedicated to this collaboration and recommend appropriate measure to domesticate the enforcement of the compulsory insurances in the State.” he said.


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CBN Disburses N3.5tr COVID-19 Intervention Cash

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Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had disbursed N3.5 trillion to different sectors of the economy to cushion the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.

CBN Disburses N3.5tr COVID-19 Intervention Cash

Mr. Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor

It will also contribute N1.8 trillion into the N2.30 trillion Federal Government’s one-year Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) through its Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs).

Godwin Emefiele, CBN Governor stated this on Tuesday after the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja.

Emefiele gave a breakdown of who got what out of the N3.5 trillion COVID-19 intervention as follows: Real Sector (N216.87 billion); COVID-19 Targeted Credit Facility (N73.69 billion); Agri-Business/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (N54.66 billion); Pharmaceutical and Health Care Support (N44.47 billion); and Creative Industry Financing (N2.93 billion).

Under the Real Sector Funds, Emefiele said: “a total of 87 projects that include 53 manufacturing, 21 agriculture and 13 service projects were funded.

He added: “In the health care sector, 41 projects which include 16 pharmaceuticals and 25 hospital and health care services were funded.”

The CBN boss also said: “Under the Targeted Credit Facility, 120,074 applicants received financial support for investment capital.

“The AGSMEIS intervention has been extended to a total of 14,638 applicants, while 250 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), predominantly the youth, have benefited from the Creative Industry Financing Initiative.”

Emefiele said in addition to  the  initiatives, the   apex bank “is set to contribute over N1.8 trillion of the total sum of N2.30 trillion needed for the one year  ESP, through its various financing interventions using the  PFIs.”


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