Connect with us

News and Report

Heritage Bank leveraging technology to promote financial inclusion for inclusive growth

Published

on

In today’s world, making financial services accessible is fast becoming a key area of concern to policymakers for the well-known reason that it has far reaching economic implications. To this end, financial inclusion has assumed a greater level of importance due to its perceived relevance as catalyst for economic growth since it is critical for attaining inclusive growth in an economy.

In 2012, Nigeria took major steps in its journey by launching the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS). The main goal of the NFIS is to ensure that 80per cent of Nigerian adults are financially included by 2020. Before this, the formal use of financial services by the adult population stood at 36.3per cent in 2010. To achieve the 2020 goal, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) introduced strategies to spike innovation in the financial services sector in Nigeria and by 2017, one amongst the achievements was that the CBN had given over 20 licenses to mobile money operators, which has currently grown to 21.

According to 2018 data from Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFInA), 38.1million of Nigeria’s 106million (18years and above) adults or 36 percent of Nigerians remain completely financially excluded.

In a recent survey by Augusto & Co on Consumer Digital Banking, only 34per cent of the respondents said they had experienced the service of digital banks. Only 17per cent of respondents above the age of 55 are aware of their services, while for people aged 41-54, the awareness rate stood at 31per cent. This spells the need to deepen the financial inclusion drive if Nigeria is to attain the NFIS target and accelerated economic growth.

The apex bank may have missed the 2020 target of 80 percent for financial inclusion, but it stands a better chance of meeting the target of 95per cent by 2024, as industry players have argued that to achieve the NFIS target for inclusive economic growth, the financial sector must strongly leverage technology (mobile and digital channels) to promote financial inclusion and enhance access to financial services for the unbanked and underserved segments of the population.

One of the financial institutions that has continued to leverage on technology to revitalize the industry via deploying its huge resources and vast networks to deepen financial inclusion in the country for inclusive economic growth is Heritage Bank Plc, Nigeria’s most innovative banking service provider.

The MD/CEO of Heritage Bank, Ifie Sekibo, affirmed that banks cannot push financial inclusion unless they also push secured technology inclusion.

According to him, Heritage Bank has continued to entrench financial inclusion across board via creating access to accounts and other financial products, savings, mobile money systems and payment systems that provide opportunities for financially excluded Nigerians and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.

 

Introducing HB API Sandbox & Banking as a service via One Pipe

The Bank launched an API Sandbox to accelerate the ideas of technology entrepreneurs to build innovative and commercially viable products that were birthed through HB LAB. This platform provides a suite of financial and non-financialAPIs targeted to meet the needs of FinTech, Tech SMEs, and Communities. Our APIs grants Tech Companies, third-party developers, and non-Fintech companies access to multiple payments and financial services required by their customers.

Following the launch of HB’s API Sandbox, the Bank partnered with API aggregator Companies to extend the Bank’s API services to a wider audience, layering their value-added services to deliver our BaaS platform. Banking as a Service (BaaS/Open Banking) is an end-to-end business process that allows FinTech and other third-party service providers to offer core financial services to their customers by integrating with the Bank via our readily available APIs. This is a billed service that also provides relevant data insight required to pursue aggressive retail accounts acquisition by leveraging the aggregator robust retail prospect pipeline.

 

Redefining digital banking space with ‘Octiplus’

Sekibo promised that his bank would continue to drive financial inclusion through a robust, innovative, and advanced digital banking solution, ‘Octiplus’ which it recently launched.

Octiplus is a bank-agnostic, all-in-one digital banking application, which grants users access to a bouquet of financial, lifestyle and social networking features with the added convenience of converging card-based payments within one application irrespective of the issuing Nigerian bank. Ifie Sekibo stated that, “with Octiplus, we are redefining the concept of digital banking for the discerning mobile user, as the app is equipped with several exciting features that reiterate the bank’s commitment to expand its digital architecture and modernize its interactions with the banking public, irrespective of your preferred financial institution.”

Octiplus promises an intelligent Omni-channel experience which augments the usual transactional features including bills payment, funds transfer and airtime recharge with its unique ability to facilitate person to person/group interactions which encourages small businesses and a thriving side hustle for young professionals. The App is now available for download on the Google and iOS App Stores.

 

Catching them young with HB BUD Account

HB Bud account is a savings account for children and the younger demographic aimed at introducing financial literacy and inclusion. The account can be opened in trust for a child by the parent/guardian who will be the primary account holder with the responsibility of running this account until their child attains adulthood and can solely operate their own accounts or possibly move to other age-appropriate products. This product was initially launched in 2014 as a unique proposition to cater mostly to the educational needs of children and young adults who are preparing and saving up for further education and, as well, deepen brand visibility and increase the bank’s market share. However, some operational exigencies and regulatory framework have necessitated the modification and adjustment of this product to serve the customers optimally. Children and teens from 0 to 18yrs are the target market.

The features are unique as outlined: Access to cash backed loan by parent/guardian/sponsor for school fees/education loan. You can access up to 70per cent of your balance held with the Bank as cash backed loan. Thecustomer must have run the BUD account for a minimum of 6 months to access the cash backed loan. Ease of saving through standing order instructions. Access to exclusive events. Free participation in the BUD MINI career mentoring and coaching sessions once a year. Opportunity to act as a Heritage Bank Executive Committee member for one day.

 

Catering for the unbanked via HB Starter Product

This is the banks flagship CBN KYC Tier 1 savings account to cater for the unbanked. It is a level 1 entry into savings account category in Nigeria, in which an individual can open without having the mandatory requirements/documents to open a standard or regular account in Nigeria. This is one way of ensuring that all citizens of Nigeria are financially included since the account can be opened with or without a smart phone at the bank or online. In essence, this type of savings account doesn’t require any utility bills, or even an ID to open.

Most people who fall under this category usually do not see the need to open an account because they find it easier to save whatever money they have in their houses. This category of people wants to avoid bulky manual account opening process and have a better time management. This product is very precise and requires minimum account opening documentation, also it can be done at the comfort of one’s home. Customers can in addition be assisted by the Bank’s relationship managers and sales teams. Also, customers can get on the bank’s website to initiate a new account opening process from start and receive the account number at the end of the process.

 

Product targeted at individuals across all market segments

This is known as HB Individual Current Account Product, which is a checking account for all individuals across market segments above the age of 18years. This account has been made seamless with unique features for individuals’ access to loan products, minimum balance of N0.00, No COT on all transaction, account opening balance N5, 000 and access to clearing check book.

 

Customization of payment gateway on HB CheckOut and Virtual Accounts

Heritage CheckOut is a fully integrated payment processing platform with infrastructure for digital payments across Africa. Olusola Longe-Okenimkpe, Divisional Head, E-Business & Collections disclosed that the platform provides an underlying technology platform that allows businesses to receive and issue payments from anywhere in the world, with robust inbuilt fraud management, compliance, and security applications.

She also defined Virtual Accounts as series of off-balance accounts whose total balance mirrors the balance in pool account. According to Olusola, pool account is linked to all the virtual accounts and the balance in the pool account mirrors the total balance in the virtual accounts.

 

Opportunities for financially excluded with HB Business Account

The Heritage Bank Business Account is a cost-effective current account that provides flexible, affordable, and transparent pricing grid based on debit monthly turnover covenant. The product is targeted at all Micro and Small Enterprises of SME and Retail segments.

 

Ensuring seamless transaction using HB transfer code

 

The transfer code *745# of Heritage bank guarantees seamless usages and reduces the stress of going to the branch of Heritage bank to make payment. Just like other banks, you can use Heritage bank mobile banking code which is *745# to check your account balance, transfer money to Heritage bank or other banks, pay for utility bills and cable TV subscription, pay for church’s services everywhere you are using your mobile phone.

 

Capturing educational sector via Alumni Banking service, Acada Portal Solution

To further capture individuals in educational sector into the financial inclusion space, Heritage Bank unveiled the Alumni Banking Service and Acada Portal Solution which are internet-based solutions that seamlessly integrate school’sportal and Alumni platforms that benefit the different stakeholders and complement efforts in attaining the best global practices in school management. Alumni Banking service is an educational provision by Heritage Bank that seeks to utilize and track, engage, endow, and invest a model to help secondary and tertiary educational institutions create modern alumni systems that contribute to their financial stability just like great alumni do in the best global schools.

 

Inclusion of creative industry, e-sport gaming on HB YNSPYRE Account

YNSPYRE Account is a product targeted specifically at the creative economy populated by not only youths in video and film, and music. It goes much more than that as it involves people in technology, the creative industry and gaming as part of the creative industry.

Addressing the press about the initiative in gaming as a creative endeavour, Dike Dimiri, Heritage Bank Regional Executive, Lagos, and South-West explained that the involvement of the bank is to identify income-earning opportunities for some people in the economy.

According to him, “HB has designed a product that identifies and finds a mechanism that guides Nigerians in gaming or e-sports. The bank is set to revolutionize e-sports by bringing it to an acceptable level attained by football, lawn tennis and other crowd pulling games.”

 

Heritage Bank is fast changing the narratives of the banking landscape through the adoption of more secured technology (product and channels) for seamless services that guarantee the larger part of the population is involved in economic activities as well asbeing financially included.

For this to be effective, Sekibo affirmed that the population must access financial services and products which ensure that households and businesses irrespective of income levels have access to and can effectively use the appropriate financial facilities they need to improve their lives and further their savings and investments.

 

 

 

Continue Reading
Advertisement

News and Report

Contempt: Again, court commits EFCC boss, Abdulrasheed Bawa, to prison

Published

on

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, has been committed to prison for allegedly disobeying court order.

The court also directed the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, to effect Bawa’s arrest and remand him in Kuje prison for the next 14 days until he purges himself of the contempt.

Justice R.O. Ayoola of the Kogi State High Court, in his judgement on Monday, granted the application for committal to prison of the EFCC chairman for disobeying a court ruling delivered on November 30, 2022, wherein the EFCC chairman was directed to produce the applicant in the case, Ali Bello.

Ali Bello had dragged Bawa to court for arresting and detaining him illegally, with the court ruling in his favour, only for the EFCC to arraign him for alleged money laundering three days after the ruling.

The EFCC’s applications for setting aside and stay of execution of the ruling were refused for want of merit.

The Court had, in Form 49, Order IX, Rule 13, marked, “HCL/697M/2022” and titled, “Notice to Show Cause Why Order of Committal Should not be Made,” asked the EFCC Chairman to appear before it on January 18, 2022 to explain why he should not be jailed for flouting the order given on December 12, 2022 in a case filed by Ali Bello against the EFCC and Bawa, as the 1st and 2nd respondents, respectively.

The court ordered that the EFCC and Bawa be served the motion of notice together with Form 49 by substituted means.

The court had declared the arrest and detention of the applicant in the face of a subsisting court order made by a court of competent jurisdiction and without a warrant of arrest “or being informed of the offence for which he was arrested” as unlawful, unconstitutional, and in contravention of the personal liberty and dignity of human person guaranteed under Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

The court had also ordered the respondents to tender an apology to the applicant in a national newspaper and awarded N10 million compensation for him.

Continue Reading

News and Report

Fidelity grows profit to N52 billion for FY 2022 

Published

on

 

Fidelity Bank Plc has announced an impressive growth in Profit Before Tax to N52 bn for the Full Year 2022. This was made known in the Bank’s unaudited statement of account presented to the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) on Wednesday, 31 January 2023.

 

According to the regulatory filing, the bank grew Gross Earnings by 33.9% to N335.897 billion (from N250.774 billion in FY 2021) and Net Interest Income by 61.1% to N152.813 billion (from N94.877 billion in FY 2021) leading to a Profit After Tax of N47.163billion for FY 2022 (from N35.579billion in FY 2021).

 

Similarly, Total Assets for the Bank now stand at N3.999trillion (from N3.289trillion in FY 2021) and Deposit from Customers is now at N2.591trillion (from N2.024trillion in FY 2021).

 

Analysts posit that this is yet another strong showing for the tier-one bank having sustained impressive performance year-on-year even in the face of the headwinds in the economy. Despite growing its Gross Earnings at an impressive rate, the bank has managed to record one of the lowest Non-Performing Loans (NPL) ratios in the Nigerian banking industry, for instance.

Continue Reading

News and Report

Petition signatures to Emefiele over new naira hit 1653..

Published

on

Petition signatures to Emefiele over new naira hit 1653

 

Following the crisis over the non-availability of the redesigned N100, N200, N500 and N1000, over 1653 Nigerians have petitioned the Central Bank Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, to end what they termed ‘hardship’ on the citizens.

 

The petition, hoisted on the global change website, change.org, which was started on Friday, garnered over 1653 signatures on Saturday.

 

As of the time of filing this report, many bank customers have yet to access the new notes as many automated teller machines are either not dispensing cash or completely shut down because of the crowd.

 

Protests have erupted over the situation in some parts of the country and some banks vandalised by hoodlums, demanding access to their money lodged in several accounts.

 

 

 

There have also been controversial videos showing bank officials sabotaging the process by hiding the new notes behind old ones in vaults.

 

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has requested seven days from Nigerians to fix the mess.

 

Part of the petition stated, “The recent shortage of physical cash in Nigeria has caused major untold hardship to Nigerians. People are spending hours in long lines at banks just to withdraw cash, and many are forced to rely more on digital transactions which tend to be unreliable due to poor bank networks.

 

POS operators also charge outrageous amounts; as much as N1000 for a N10,000 withdrawal. The Central Bank of Nigeria has stated that the shortage is temporary, but it is causing serious disruption to the daily lives of many Nigerians.

 

“We call on the government, stakeholders, law enforcement agencies and the CBN to take urgent action to address the cash shortage crisis in Nigeria. We demand that the CBN increase the distribution of physical cash to meet the demand, and also any POS operator found charging outrageous amounts for withdrawal should be arrested.’’

 

Meanwhile, the National Association of Nigerian Students has expressed displeasure over the issue, noting that the process was not only ill-timed but also not well thought out.

 

Speaking to Sunday PUNCH during a telephone interview on Friday, National Vice President (External Affairs), Akinteye Afeez-Babatunde, said, “The whole situation is crazy. We are tired. Students are crying and complaining. They can’t get cash. The leaders have confirmed to us that they don’t care for the people. The policy is fine but the process to get it done is to the detriment of our own lives as Nigerians. Our day-to-day activities have been disrupted. Nigerians are suffering.’

 

Continue Reading

Trending