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We are Positioning for Digital leadership and Market Dominance – Adekunle Sonola, CEO Polaris Bank



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Polaris Bank, Leading digital financial institution, has assured its customers, financial sector stakeholders, and regulators that the Bank passed its road to recovery years back.

Adekunle Sonola, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), of the financial institution, stated this in a recent interview, with PROSHAREs team of analysts noting that the Bank is currently on the growth path leading to market dominance.

According to him, careful rethinking and re-strategizing corporate plans creates the bedrock of competitive burst and business sustainability, both attributes that Polaris Bank has focused on in the last few years, working with professional bodies such as PwC, Ernst & Young (E&Y), and KPMG across several corporate verticals.

“The bank has travelled past the recovery road years back; it is currently on the growth road leading to market dominance.

“Adequate capitalization is a key measure of financial health, providing comfort to depositors and affording balance sheet and business growth.

“The bank is presently adequately capitalized, operating well above the 10% minimum requirement for National Banks.

“Nonetheless, we are concluding arrangements to inject Tier II capital into the Balance Sheet to support our growth aspirations. Our shareholders are ready and willing to inject Tier I capital into the books.

“Having instituted best-in-class risk management practices, and maintaining adequate capitalization to support our growth objectives is not one of the bank’s immediate challenges and will not be in the foreseeable future.

“The new owners are committed to providing necessary support towards building a strong and resilient financial position to underwrite transactional activities of the Bank for sustainable value creation,” Sonola assured.

Confirming that the Bank now operates a two-prong ideology of controlling the funding cost and growing earning assets at economic pricing, the Polaris Bank boss noted that earning asset growth is something the Bank is driving at from both the investment and risk asset sides of the business.

“The Bank has consistently been growing its asset base year-on-year (Y-o-Y). The Bank’s recently developed strategic plan will guide the Bank to a position of being a major challenger of Tier 1 banks and be the leader among Tier II banks along all the key performance parameters. Furthermore, the bank’s focus is to be one of the most efficient deposit money institutions in the industry, delivering superior value to its stakeholders, our competition is not of size, but value creation.

“We have revamped our go-to-market structure, broadening our customer base, fine-tuning our product, and supporting service offerings, strengthening personnel sales capacities, and improving our loan onboarding processes. We are very confident our Net interest income and margin will witness considerable growth as our strategies mature.”

Clarifying that cost control is a critical part of the Bank’s tactical and strategic roadmap, Polaris Bank Managing Director said its short-term tactics come from its longer-term strategies, adding that at the tactical level, the Bank is strengthening digital deliveries, and upgrading the capabilities and offerings on Digital Bank, Vulte, for an even more intensive and intuitive experience across customer journeys.

Polaris Bank has also improved its digital play, as reflected in the improvement of technological interfaces that feed into the customer’s journey expectations and experiences.

“We intend to build a dominant digitally led retail franchise and continue to reshape the bank’s business processes and support technology to continuously improve enterprise agility. The key thing is to drive top-notch processes and build agility in customer responsiveness.

“The VULTE product is just one of our service offerings. Indeed, we are creating a digital service reality that is customer service-focused. The technology driving this will scale digital service delivery to enhance our customers’ product or service experiences as we front-load features that fit into their expectations and future possible journey outcomes.

“As financial service platforms get better and continue to be an enabler, a part of the fabric of our modern economy, we will be an integral part of the way people carry out their businesses and we will make their digital journeys an integrated friendly experience. One cannot talk too much about this, but the tea leaves are pointing to a fresh pathway to consumer banking satisfaction.”

Other areas of positive growth in the Bank include the creation of a more powerful customer service experience via improved staff productivity with the best of Polaris Bank staffers driving the process having gone through upskilling and retraining programmes. This ensures we are driving a productivity-sensitive framework that marries staff effort with measurable business contributions.

“We have zeroed in on offering superior customer experience as a competitive tool. The new world of competitiveness requires that corporations are agile and flexible, we are building this into the bank’s operational DNA.

“Our customer journey experiences have been deconstructed across demographics and the service propositions will soon grace banking halls in the next eighteen months at the latest.

“We plan for a stronger balance sheet, with higher loan quality, greater liquidity, larger capital, and resilience to absorb economic shocks. Our loan asset quality has improved significantly, thereby improving liquidity, earnings, and the bank’s capital.

“We are primed to improve our cost-to-income ratio (CIR), Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR), and Cost-of-Risk ratio (CoR). In the recent past, we saw bumps in the risk area with CoR higher than we would like, but more recently risk quality has improved leading to lower CoR.”

With a focus on customer-centricity, risk management, cost optimization, and technological advancements, Polaris Bank is seen as positioning itself as a major player in the industry, offering superior customer experiences and driving financial performance.

The Bank has been decorated as Nigeria’s Digital Bank of the Year in two successive years; it aims to position itself as a dominant digitally-led retail franchise, delivering superior value to stakeholders

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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. Dear Reader, Your support matters. But we believe that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. That is why, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and finance and how they affect lives. Our incisive and analytical view of how technology news affects the daily life help individuals and organizations make up their minds. Quality journalism costs money. Today, we're asking that you support us to do more. Kindly support our effort to deliver technology and finance journalism to everyone in the world. Donate as little as N1,000. Bank transfers can be made to: UBA Plc 1017156876 Communication Week Media Ltd


CBN to Freeze Accounts without BVN, NIN April 2024



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The Central Bank of Nigeria has directed a “Post no Debit” restriction on all bank accounts without a Bank Verification Number and National Identification Number effective April 2024.

“Post No Debit” is a term used to describe a restriction imposed by banks on specific accounts, preventing customers from making withdrawals, transfers, or any other debits from their accounts.

This measure effectively freezes the funds in the account, rendering it inaccessible for the duration of the restriction.

The CBN’s directive was contained in a circular issued by the apex bank and sent to all deposit money banks on Friday.

The Central Bank also stated that all the BVN or NIN attached to and/or associated with all ccounts/wallets must be electronically revalidated by January 31, 2024.

The circular was jointly signed by the Director, Payments System Management Department, Chibuzo Efobi, and Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department, Haruna Mustapha.

The bank said the directive was part of efforts to promote financial system stability and strengthen the Know Your Customer procedures in all financial institutions.

It also amended Section 1.5.3 of the Regulatory Framework for BVN to ensure mandatory registration of all tier-1, 2, and 3 bank accounts and wallets with BVN or NIN.

The circular read, “As part of its efforts in promoting financial system stability, it becomes necessary to strengthen the Know Your Customer procedures in financial institutions under the purview of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“Accordingly, the CBN hereby issues an amendment to Section 1.5.3 of the Regulatory Framework for Bank Verification Number Operations and Watch List for the Nigerian banking industry.

“In this regard: it is mandatory for all Tier-1 bank accounts and wallets for individuals to have BVN and/or NIN. It remains mandatory for Tiers 2 & 3 accounts and wallets for individual accounts to have BVN and NIN.

“The process for account opening shall commence by electronically retrieving BVN or NIN related information from the NIBSS BVN or NIMC’s NIN databases and for same to become the primary information for onboarding of new customers.

“All existing customer accounts/wallets for individuals with validated BVN shall be profiled in the NIBSS ICAD immediately and within 24 hRS of opening accounts/wallets.”

As a result of the new guidelines, the bank said any unfunded account/wallet shall be placed on “Post No Debit or credit until the new process is satisfied.

It added that all accounts/wallets will be electronically revalidated by January 31, 2024.

The circular further read, “Effective immediately, no new Tier1 accounts and wallets should be opened without BVN or NIN,

“For all existing Tier1 accounts/wallets without BVN or NIN: i. Effective immediately, any unfunded account/wallet shall be placed on “Post No Debit or credit until the new process is satisfied.

“Effective April 1, 2024, all funded accounts or wallets shall be placed on “Post No Debit or Credit, and no further transactions permitted.

“The BVN or NIN attached to and/or associated with all accounts/wallets must be electronically revalidated by January 31, 2024.”

Continuing, CBN further directed all Executive Compliance Officers, Chief Compliance Officers, or Heads of the Compliance Functions to acquaint themselves with the attached guidance notes to ensure full and uniform compliance.

“To ensure uniform and full compliance, the Executive Compliance Officers, Chief Compliance Officers, or Heads of the Compliance Functions are advised to acquaint themselves with the attached Guidance Notes which becomes applicable to ALL institutions regulated by the CBN.

“Also, a comprehensive BVN and NIN audit shall be conducted shortly and where breaches are identified, appropriate sanctions shall be applied.

“Finally, all financial institutions regulated by CBN are required to apply strict compliance on restrictions on Tier1 accounts/wallets as they relate to limits on transaction values and cumulative balances,” the circular concluded.

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Zenith Bank Signs Mou With Cfa Institute to Develop Finance and Investment Professionals



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Zenith Bank Plc has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute to promote efforts and activities that support the formation, training, and updating of human capital in finance and investment for the overall development of the Nigerian financial services sector.

The MoU was signed by Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, the Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc,; the President/CEO of the CFA Institute, Margaret Franklin; and the President of CFA Society Nigeria, Ibukun Oyedeji on Tuesday.

Speaking at the MoU signing ceremony, Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, the Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, commended the CFA Institute and the CFA Society, Nigeria for their laudable programmes in developing finance and investment professionals in Nigeria.

According to him, your Women in Investment Management Initiative, CFA Institute Research Challenge, CFA Society Nigeria Ethics Challenge and University Affiliation Program are very laudable, and Zenith Bank will continue to partner with the CFA Institute and the CFA Society Nigeria to ensure that young finance and investment professionals get the needed support for their career development.

In his words, “As a good corporate citizen, Zenith Bank remains committed to furthering the economic, cultural and social development of the society. As such, we continue to support projects and initiatives that have long-term social and economic benefits for our various publics and stakeholders.

“Partnering with the CFA Institute and the CFA Society Nigeria is therefore a demonstration of our commitment to building professional excellence in the finance services industry in Nigeria”.

At the CFA Institute Africa Investment Conference, during the ‘Journey to the Top: A Discourse with CEOs’ segment, Dr. Onyeagwu inspired future finance and investment professionals to uphold the highest standards of integrity. He stressed the importance of making difficult yet high-quality decisions, building robust networks, and dedicating themselves to hard work for career success.

In his words, “as upcoming professionals, the opportunities are immense for you. Africa doesn’t get bigger than Nigeria.

There is scarcity of the right kind of people that have the talent, that have the character and the leadership to provide leadership in organizations.

Make a decision to be one of those, make a decision to be different. You must be driven by your passion; you must delay gratification. In Zenith what is driving us is the strive for excellence. It is not about who you are and where you come from. We have the best class of talents you can think of anywhere in the world.”

He assured the young finance and investment professionals that Zenith Bank will offer immediate employment opportunity to CFA Charter Holders and those who qualify as Chartered Accountants.

Also speaking on the MoU, the President/CEO, CFA Institute, Margaret Franklin reiterated the Institute’s commitment to the professional development of students and upcoming professionals. In her words, “there are many things that we do for students, we invest heavily in students and why is that? Because they are our future.

The mission of the CFA Institute is to lead the investment industry with the highest standards of ethics, education and professional excellence for the ultimate benefit of society and that starts with our CFA programme”.

She commended Zenith Bank for its continued support to the CFA Society Nigeria and sponsorship of the CFA Institute Research Challenge over the years. She also commended the bank for being one of the top employers of CFA members in the country.

She expressed her admiration of the culture of excellence in Zenith Bank. Also speaking at the MoU signing ceremony, the President of CFA Society Nigeria, Ibukun Oyedeji commended Zenith Bank for its partnership with CFA Society Nigeria and its commitment to the development of young finance professionals in the country.

The the CFA Institute Africa Investment Conference is being hosted by the CFA Institute and CFA Societies from Ghana, East Africa, South Africa and Mauritius.

The conference has representatives from over 20 universities in Nigeria (members of their investment clubs being supported by CFA Society).

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PalmPay Releases 5 Financial Safety Tips to Master Before the Holiday Season



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As the holiday draws near, fraudsters are on the prowl for whom to defraud using dubious shopping websites and posing on social media platforms as customer support agents of legitimate businesses to steal your identity.

While activities of online fraudsters are more sophisticated and are posed to spike during the holiday season, according to reports, other types of frauds that fraudsters are likely to use in defrauding you include digital loan scams, one-time password (OTP) scams, giveaway campaign scams, and free gift or voucher scams.

Aside from the security measures put in place by businesses such as banks, fintechs and online shopping stores, you owe it to yourself to take some safety precautions when conducting financial transactions during this holiday season.

In an interview in Lagos recently, Kevin Olumese, Senior Marketing Manager, PalmPay, rolled out financial safety tips everyone should master before the holiday season beckons.

Mr Olumese noted that as the holiday draws near, fraudsters would be on the prowl seeking whom to defraud using dubious shopping websites and posing on social media platforms as customer support agents of legitimate businesses to steal your identity.

“Aside from security measures put in place by businesses such as banks, fintechs and online shopping stores, you owe it to yourself to take some safety precautions when conducting financial transactions during this holiday season,” Mr Olumese cautioned.

He listed some easy safety tips to save yourself from fraudsters this holiday including but not limited to the following:

Shop from secure retail outlets

Shoppers this holiday season will see an increase in dubious shopping websites, with some of them offering ridiculous discounts to attract unsuspecting shoppers to input their debit card details which would be stolen by fraudsters.

Do not shop on an online retail store that you don’t trust or haven’t used before, it doesn’t matter whether they are offering the best discount. Moreso, if the discounts they are offering look too good to be true, it’s probably because it is not true.

Shop using verified online websites or payment apps that are secure and seamless. Payment apps like PalmPay have been integrated with different business outlets, allowing you to pay your bills and utilities securely and with ease.

Use only trusted POS machines

Whether you want to withdraw cash to spend this holiday season or make payments using a point of sale (POS), it is good that you thread carefully and only patronise POS agents that have terminals of fintech brands that you can trust.

Stay vigilant and watch out for possible irregularities while patronizing POS agents. To ensure that the details of your card are not stolen, hide them and do not input your personal identification number (PIN) in the presence of other people.

Using POS terminals of trusted fintech companies cannot be emphasised enough. For ease of transaction, use POS terminals that offer a good network, a reliable system with less than one percent failure rate, an option to know banks’ network updates in real-time, and 24/7 quick customer dispute resolution.

Be wary of unsolicited calls, emails and texts

Expect to receive several unsolicited phone calls, emails and text messages from scammers claiming to be from businesses that you know. Some of these calls, emails and texts would claim that you’ve won a discount or holiday giveaway from a trusted business and would ask you to pay some money to enjoy the discount or giveaway.

Do not fall for this trick. Legitimate businesses will not ask you to pay money to enjoy a giveaway promotion or require that you send sensitive bank details to be granted access to a discount. Beware! No staff or agents of PalmPay will call or text you to ask for money or sensitive information in exchange for a coupon or a discount.

Research discounts, giveaways

This brings us to the next and one of the most important safety tips to always apply during this holiday season and after. Always do your research on purported discounts and giveaway challenges supposedly coming from trusted brands.

During the holiday, whenever you come across an ongoing giveaway promotion, go to the official social media accounts and websites of the brand to verify. Any discount or giveaway challenge that is not communicated to the public through the official social media channels of a legitimate business should be viewed cautiously.

Every discount and giveaway by PalmPay is usually posted on the company’s social media pages. Follow the right handles on Instagram, Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), TikTok and LinkedIn, and always look out for the verified check marks.

Avoid fraudulent fintech apps

Do not give out your personal information and bank details to fintech platforms that you do not trust. It is important that we repeat this safety warning. Do not download fintech apps that are not regulated by the government.

Loan or fintech apps that are not regulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and whose deposits are not insured by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) should be avoided completely. Before downloading any fintech or loan app, conduct your research to ensure that they boldly carry the CBN and NDIC badges.

Aside from being regulated by the CBN and insured by NDIC, at PalmPay we go the extra mile to ensure that our over 30 million users and the more than 1.1 million businesses that are part of our payment ecosystem are safe from fraudsters. Follow our social media handles to stay up-to-date on safety guidelines.


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