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FirstBank Cardholders Records N1.18trn in Transactions Value during Lockdown

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Since its establishment in 1894, FirstBank has consistently built relationships with her customers, focusing on the fundamentals of good corporate governance, strong liquidity, optimised risk management and effective leadership. These, amongst others, are the reasons the Bank has dominated the financial market for over 126 years.

The Bank has led the financing of private investment in infrastructural development in the Nigerian economy by playing key roles in the Federal Government’s privatisation and commercialization schemes, and entrenchment of the cashless policy which gave rise to electronic cards being a veritable entity in the day to day transactions among the bank’s customers. Consequently, the use of its wide range of cards, developed with the ‘man on the move’ in mind, come with far reaching benefits and rewards, connecting the remotest of places even as the world is plagued by the novel Corona virus disease today.

The world as we know it today, is a global village, and its connectivity is at the tip of an individual’s finger. That aside, it also revolves around the use of ‘ordinary’ but highly customised cards and FirstBank is a confirmed Leader in this space. There’s no gainsaying the fact that for 126 years and counting, FirstBank, Nigeria’s premier bank, with accolades and awards trailing its existence, has continued to blaze the trail in certainly every financial innovation. And as the name signifies, has continued to be the first in virtually everything banking and finance. Little wonder that in December 2015 and May 2016, FirstBank was named the first financial institution in the country to achieve sustained alternative channels transaction volumes of 100 million transactions. Subsequently in 2017, the Bank also attained the Milestone of 10million card base, a feat that is first of its kind in West Africa and Second in Africa.

There is hardly any banking innovation, which is not traced to the company that has overtime woven itself into the very fabric of the society. Commenting on FirstBank’s strides, the Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, disclosed that the bank’s 53, 000 agents across the country processed about N512 billion worth of transactions with differing values while the lockdown lasted. He noted that the bank was “able to actively support her customers, their families and businesses through these challenging times.” This is nothing short of the FirstBank advantage.

Adeduntan reiterated the faith Nigerians have in the use of FirstBank cards, saying that during the period of the lockdown, Nigerians with FirstBank cards used them 105 million times to make payments or withdrawals worth about N1.18 Trillion as they relied on the Bank to settle their banking needs. In addition, the Bank’s CEO noted that approximately 12.6 million withdrawals to the tune of N156 billion were carried out across FirstBank’s ATMs nationwide.

“Our customers made transfers over 106 million times with a total value of about N8.18 Trillion across our digital channels. We have also recorded over 275,000 new sign-ups to alternative channels covering our Firstmobile, USSD and First-Online platforms,” the CEO informed.

While calling on lovers of stress-free banking to get on board, the FirstBank CEO further assured existing customers of the bank’s relentless efforts to ensure that banking transactions continue seamlessly, adding that COVID-19 will not slow down her activities and efforts at staying true to her brand promise to her customers.

FirstBank cards come in a wide range of categories, each fulfilling tasks that are better imagined, but nevertheless are flexible and offer comfort, stress-free banking and wholesome peace of mind. It is therefore not a coincidence, that FirstBank is and remains Nigeria’s highest card transacting bank; a product of carefully thought out process, hard work and the quest to keep its customers first in all things. This is especially important at a time when movement and business activities were largely hampered by the lockdown, with the maintenance of social distance and the potential increase in the use of the Bank’s alternative channels – which is facilitated by its cards – for various transactions and business activities, thus staying safe to win the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The range of cards available to customers of FirstBank are categorised into three broad groups, viz; DEBIT, CREDIT and PREPAID Cards. The grouping covers outstanding cards offerings such as Naira MasterCard, Verve Card and the pioneering Visa Multi-Currency Card. Others are Expressions MasterCard, Platinum MasterCard, Visa Infinite Credit Card, Visa Gold Credit Card, Naira Credit Cards (Visa Classic and Platinum), Visa Prepaid Card and Verve Prepaid Card.

FirstBank’s Naira MasterCard & Verve Card are Secured by Chip & PIN technology with local POS/Web limit increase available upon request. The Naira denominated MasterCard comes with various benefits such as online purchases, bills payments and cash withdrawals at ATMs world-wide. The various transaction limit(s) on Naira MasterCard issued by the Bank are N150,000 for ATM transactions, N2,500,000 for POS and N1,000,000 for Web transactions.

The FirstBank Verve Debit Card works with Chip and PIN technology to secure transactions. It allows the cardholder to conveniently pay for goods and services and is accepted by all ATMs, POS, Web, Mobile, Kiosk, and Bank Branch connected to the Interswitch network in Nigeria. It is available to all account holders and enables daily transaction limits of N150,000, and N500,000 on ATM and POS channels respectively. Customers can transact up to N1 million on the Web in a single transaction.

 

FirstBank cards also offer the Card Protection Transactions feature, which allows the cardholder to activate or deactivate it for all types of transactions, channels and locations, through the Card-in-Control Service on the Firstmobile app. The steps are few and simple:  On the Firstmobile app, go to Self Service > Card Services and choose card type (Debit, Credit, or Prepaid) to be activated or deactivated.

Another card innovation service by FirstBank is the Visa Gold Card, which offers higher daily spending capacity and limit on ATM, POS and Web. With the Visa Gold Card, the customer is assured of $1,000 daily ATM withdrawal, $10,000 POS transaction and $5,000 on the Web at any location around the world. It is a dollar denominated international Premium Credit Card issued in partnership with Visa International.

Moreso, it guarantees access to international emergency services such as Emergency Card Replacement & Emergency Cash Advance in situations where the card gets lost or damaged. The Visa Gold card comes handy when making airline bookings with its smooth seamless purchase options.

Yet another, among the FirstBank’s super cards, is VISA Debit Multi-Currency Card. It is by all intent and purpose, the first of its kind to be offered by any financial institution in Nigeria. It is an enhancement to the existing Visa Debit Dual Currency card and can be linked to any or all NAIRA, USD, EURO and GBP accounts. It is an international card with Chip and PIN technology which can be used to make payment anywhere in the world and across all channels – ATMs, POS & Web. With the Visa Debit Multi-Currency card, cardholders can make daily withdrawals to the tune of N150,000 (local) and $1,000 (international) from the ATM. However, on the Web, a total of N1,000,000 is permitted locally while $6,250 is allowed on the international corridor daily. POS transaction limit is N2,500,000 (local) and $2,500 (international).

The Platinum Debit MasterCard is a premium Debit Card denominated in Naira. It is linked directly to a customer’s Naira denominated Current and/or Savings account. It offers a convenient alternative to the use of cash, and cheques by giving direct access to funds in cardholders’ accounts across all channels like ATM, POS, and WEB etc.

Like other card types, its transactions are easily monitored via the FirstBank FirstMobile App or FirstBank Internet Banking service and offers 24-hour access support for all card-related complaints through First Contact. It is a card linked to a Naira denominated account, and it is valid for three years.

It is designed to suit the lifestyle of senior and management executives of multinational companies and leaders across various industries and sector of the global economy. Its daily limits include; ATM: N300,000; POS: N3million; Web: N2,000,000 as well as Cross-border TXN limit: $500 monthly.

For a brand that has consistently remained on top of its game, FirstBank Cards have received global recognition, as well as multiple honour for its reliable and trusted services.

Speaking further, Adeduntan highlighted that the contactless capability of the bank’s Visa and MasterCards support less human-to-human contact in executing transactions, in the same way that the Debit Cards have remained the base channel for self-onboarding to any digital channel such as USSD, Firstmobile, FirstOnline etc. It is therefore, imperative that customers get a Debit Card because of its peculiar nature to get enrolled on FirstBank’s digital channel for the best of services.

FirstBank’s benevolence did not end with making cards available to customers, but has initiated value added services attached to the cards including ‘discount at Merchants location such as Jumia Friday, Health Plus, among others. These are, without an iota of doubt, exclusive to FirstBank cardholders. This is why you must get your card(s) if you are yet to. Email us at firstcontact@firstbanknigeria.com, or call your Relationship Manager/Private Banker for whatever card options you require.

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BUSINESS

Heritage Bank to disburse CBN’s N100bn loan to health, sells FX to SMEs, education sectors

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As part of proactive measures to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 and revamp the nation’s dwindling economy, Heritage Bank is set to disburse the N100billion set aside by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

This is in line with the apex bank’s policy to introduce another intervention scheme directed to the health sector, which is known as the NGN100 Billion Credit Support for the Healthcare sector (the Scheme). Specifically, the scheme is to provide credit to indigenous pharmaceutical companies and other healthcare value chain players intending to build or expand capacity.

Also, the CBN resumed provision of foreign exchange to all commercial banks for onward sales to parents wishing to pay schools fees and small medium enterprises (SMEs) with plans to make essential imports needed to revamp economic activities across the country. In particular, the CBN is resuming the provision of over US$100 million per week for both categories.

Meanwhile, Heritage Bank serves as a conduit which will assess and channel the profiles of interested applicants to the CBN while using its platforms to create awareness for the scheme.

The CBN has also made complete arrangements to resume foreign exchange sales to the BDC segment of the market for business travels, personal travels, and other designated retail uses, as soon as international flights resume.

To access the N100bn loans provided by the CBN for firms in the healthcare sector, a corporate entity must submit its application to a participating financial institution (PFI) which could be either a Deposit Money Bank or a Development Finance Institution of its choice with a bankable business plan.

It stated in its latest guidelines that the PFI must appraise and conduct due diligence on the application; and upon approval by the PFI’s credit committee, the application would be submitted to the apex bank with relevant documents attached.

The CBN would process and disburse funds to the PFI for onward release to the project, it added.

The CBN stated that the PFI must receive and review applications submitted by its customers; undertake due diligence based on normal business considerations, and bear the credit risk.

They must also issue offer letters and forward qualified applications to the CBN; disburse the released funds to successful applicants; monitor the project and recover the loans from the beneficiaries, and maintain adequate records of all beneficiaries and facilities.

It requires the PFIs to register all movable assets with the National Collateral Registry; forward periodic returns in the prescribed format on the scheme to the CBN; comply with the guidelines, and carry out any other duties as the CBN may prescribe from time to time.

According to the CBN, eligible participants under the scheme comprise healthcare product manufacturers – pharmaceutical drugs and medical equipment; and healthcare service providers/medical facilities – hospitals/clinics, diagnostic centres/laboratories, fitness and wellness centres, rehabilitation centres, dialysis centres and blood banks, among others.

Others include pharmaceutical/medical products distribution and logistics services; and other human healthcare service providers as may be determined by the CBN from time to time.

Eligible activities under the scheme would include manufacturing of pharmaceutical drugs and medical equipment; establishment/expansion/upgrade of basic and specialised healthcare facilities; and medical/pharmaceutical supplies.

Others are medical/pharmaceutical research and development; distribution of medical/pharmaceutical drugs and supplies; Manufacturing of medical/pharmaceutical drugs distribution technology; and any other healthcare value chain activity as may be prescribed by the CBN.

The CBN said the term loan had a maximum of N2billion per obligor; and the interest rate under the intervention would not be more than five per cent per annum up until February 28, 2021; and that interest on the facility would revert to nine percent as from March 2021.

To access further details on the modalities, interested persons and institutions can logon Heritage Bank’s website (www.hbng.com).

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COVID 19 Rebound: We are building Entrepreneurs and supporting financial Inclusion through Xpress Point Agents – Ecobank

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Ecobank Nigeria has reiterated that its agency banking scheme, also known as Xpress Points, is building entrepreneurs and pushing financial inclusion to the large unbanked and under-banked population in Nigeria. The Ecobank Xpress Point enables eligible Agents to carry out financial transactions on behalf of Ecobank (www.Ecobank.com) and earn commission on every transaction processed. The consumer experience is very good as customers can do simple deposit, payment and transfers in their own neighbourhood rather than travel for hours to a bank branch. Ecobank Xpress Points is also a channel that can be used for the deployment of national social intervention programmes of the Government.

The aim of the Xpress Point is to let every Nigerian and household have access to Ecobank services within their neoghbourhood to provide easy banking services.

Speaking in Lagos, Nike Kolawole, Head, Agency Banking, Ecobank Nigeria, said unemployed and retired persons should avail themselves the opportunity to earn extra income by keying into services offered by the bank as Xpress point agents. According to her, the Ecobank Xpress point which are in various neighbourhoods across the country, are well positioned to facilitate basic financial transactions, with the process and services simplified to attend to a broad spectrum of the society.

She further disclosed that agency banking in general, brings about economic and youth empowerment by way of job creation and earning extra income, adding that small savers can easily do their savings at home or near their home. This leads to financial inclusion of the underbanked in the country.

For now, Ecobank has over 43,000 agents across Africa. The agents carry out financial transactions on behalf of Ecobank and earn commission per transaction processed. Xpress Points can also be used as a channel for the deployment of national social intervention programmes, especially at this time that we are fighting the impact of lockdowns due to the COVID-19.”

Kolawole listed the services offered by the Xpress point agents as; cash in, cash out, fund transfer, bills payment, airtime recharge, remittance and account opening, among others. She added that the services are available for “sole proprietors, partnerships, co-operative societies, microfinance banks, companies with large distribution network – like petrol stations, FMCGs, telecommunication companies, super agents, aggregators and unregistered businesses such as petty traders, hair saloon and others.”

Ecobank boasts of a bouquet of digital channels comprising solutions aimed at delivering convenient, accessible and reliable financial services. For instance, users of the bank’s USSD code, *326# carry out transactions without paying session charges. The USSD platform, *326#, makes it possible to open an Xpress account and Xpress Save account instantly. The bank’s mobile banking app, Ecobank Mobile offers the option of generating a virtual card; this comes in handy as customers are continually turning to web payments for their shopping and payments. The Ecobank virtual card offers the flexibility and convenience of creating a shopping card that is not linked to a customer’s account but is fully capable of carrying out online payments. The virtual card can also be shared with loved ones as a gift card for their own shopping.

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BUSINESS

Mastercard Builds on COVID-19 Response with Commitment to Connect 1 Billion People

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Extends effort beyond 500 million financially included over the past five years; Maximizes technology, partnerships to deliver aid, insights and access to businesses and communities; Programs like the Mastercard Farmer Network and Kasha are connecting people across East Africa.

The health and economic consequences of COVID-19 have highlighted the critical need to support vulnerable populations, many of whom are disproportionately impacted. In this time of global crisis, Mastercard (www.Mastercard.com) has expanded its worldwide commitment to financial inclusion, pledging to bring a total of 1 billion people and 50 million micro and small businesses into the digital economy by 2025. As part of this effort, there will be a direct focus on providing 25 million women entrepreneurs with solutions that can help them grow their businesses.

The extended commitment builds on Mastercard’s ongoing efforts to address the COVID-19 related health and economic challenges facing individuals all over the world, including in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Financial inclusion remains key to unlocking the potential of Sub-Saharan Africa, and will become crucial as we support Governments in driving long-term, sustainable economic recovery. Digital transactions are both safe and efficient and giving access to these for as many people as possible, is an important part of supporting the most vulnerable parts of the population through the current situation. Our focus right now – beyond philanthropy – is to steadfastly continue collaborating  with governments and private sector partners on solutions that are safe, viable, and most importantly, socially impactful for communities across the region,” said Raghav Prasad, Mastercard’s Division President for Sub-Saharan Africa.

At the 2015 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group, Mastercard committed to bring 500 million excluded individuals into the financial system. It achieved that goal through more than 350 innovative programs across 80 countries.

The Mastercard Lab for Financial Inclusion (www.Mastercard.us) – the technology company’s first lab focused on financial inclusion – is committed to empowering millions of Africans through the use of public-private partnerships, and the innovation of locally relevant technology solutions. One such solution is the Mastercard Farmer Network, a mobile platform that improves market access, increases price transparency and digitizes payments to connect small farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

East Africa is also served by Kasha, an e-commerce platform optimized for women’s health and personal care. It offers confidential and convenient service, online/offline digital ordering and delivery to both urban and low-income rural areas. In Uganda, Mastercard launched Kupaa in partnership with UNICEF Uganda and the country’s Ministry of Education. It enables parents and caregivers to pay school fees and other school expenses with their mobile phones securely, easily, and in small payments when they are able, easing the burden of lump sum payments.

Mastercard also expanded its partnership with Unilever to create Jaza Duka (fill up your store) – a digital program for micro-merchants in Kenya with more than 18,000 duka owners already registered. The program provides a micro-credit eligibility recommendation to Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), which can then assess a retailer’s credit worthiness and extend credit for stock purchases.

Additional efforts include ongoing work on government disbursement solutions, wage digitization of private sector workers, solutions for gig workers, scaling efforts with fintechs, digital platforms and digital wallets/apps, solutions addressing needs of the financially vulnerable and the expansion of CityKey and Community Pass programs.

This announcement builds on Mastercard’s ongoing efforts to support an inclusive recovery by leveraging the company’s technology, capabilities and reach. That work includes:

  • In the first weeks of the global health crisis, Mastercard committed up to $25 million in seed funding to establish the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator (www.TherapeuticsAccelerator.org) in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and others to help speed up the response to the COVID-19 epidemic by discovering, developing and scaling-up treatments for deployment around the world.
  • Mastercard has committed $250 million in financial, technology, product and services support over the next five years to small businesses in many markets where it operates, supporting the vitality of businesses and the financial security of their workers.
  • Mastercard is leveraging its network to provide support to governments around the world in a range of areas. This includes providing data insights to inform policymakers about the economic impact of the pandemic; increasing the speed and efficacy of aid disbursements to communities and business segments that need it most; developing donation platforms to enable emergency fundraising; and working with governments to assist business owners and consumers with cyber vulnerability assessments.
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