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FIRSTBANK ENHANCES PALLIATIVE MEASURES, PROMOTES e-LEARNING FOR NIGERIANS

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Nigeria’s leading financial inclusion services provider, FirstBank, has unveiled enhanced palliative measures to help its customers and Nigerians through these times of the extended COVID 19 lockdown in some states.

 

Amongst these measures are; the introduction of  special waivers on repayment fees on the Bank’s credit cards as well as up to 90-days moratorium on SME loans. The aim of these is to cushion the impact of the toll on employment and livelihoods.

 

It was announced in the course of the week that the Lagos State Government & Roducate e-learning initiative – sponsored by FirstBank – had kicked off. The initiative includes the government accredited curriculum for primary, secondary and tertiary schools designed to ensure children are adequately guided and engaged through their learning experience.

 

Upon the lockdown in March, the Bank had announced to move One Million children to e-learning which is implemented with a number of renowned organisations that have come on board from within and outside the continent. These partners include IBM, which is providing opportunities for the acquisition of digital skills including Coding, Artificial Intelligence and Data Science & Analytics which would promote opportunities to learn skills of the future. These measures are taken in identifying with the roles of children at securing the future of any country.

 

Reflecting on the words by Benjamin Franklin, thus ‘an investment in knowledge pays the best interest’ Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, CEO, FirstBank said “in keeping with who we are at FirstBank, our commitment to self-development and continuous improvement is never far from our thinking. As such we are encouraging all to consider and register for any of the excellent programmes being offered free by Ivy League schools and have curated a list of them covering topics such as management, personal development, and entrepreneurship which can be found on our website.

 

In addition, Dr. Adeduntan stated that “with these measures, we are delighted to support our customers because you all have empowered us to do so by choosing to Bank with us. This is indeed a time to double down efforts and explore opportunities to ease the impact of the extension on you.

 

Once again, we appreciate our customers for the giant strides achieved on our alternative channels, as we assure you of our commitment to continue to work tirelessly to provide essential banking services across these channels. The transaction volumes is a positive testimony to the resilience of our staff and your Bank to keep things going as COVID 19 will neither defeat nor slow us down. We remain fully persuaded that together we will overcome this too.”

 

“Our experience over 126 years tells us the solutions lie within us, more than ever as we uphold our promise to you to be here for you and put You First always,” he concluded.

 

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UBA’s LEO: Celebrating three Years of Revolutionised Banking Services

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Technology has been a veritable gift to mankind, and over the years, it has been responsible for creating amazingly useful resources which put all the information individuals need at their fingertips. The development of technology has also led to so many mind-blowing discoveries, better facilities, and better luxuries, which has in-turn helped to improve lifestyle and standard of living.

For instance, through relevant technological development, the average individual has been empowered to shop online and carry out seamless transaction any time of the day or night from the comfort of his own home or business place.

To this end, forward thinking companies and financial institutions with eyes in the future who have been conversant with the new trend in customer behaviour, have painstakingly designed new products and services tailor-made to meet the growing needs of customers anytime anywhere.

It is bearing this in mind that Pan-African financial Institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, changed the face of e-banking in the African continent for the first time with the introduction of Leo – UBA’s Chat Banker. The idea of Leo, which was birthed in 2018, was to enable customers make use of their social media accounts to carry out key banking transactions with ease.

This is the first time ever that a financial institution in Africa evolved a one-stop solution to simplify the way customers transact, a key essential in today’s fast-paced world with demands for quick-time transactions and response.

With Leo’s help, customers have been able to open new accounts with ease, receive instant transaction notifications, check their balances on the go, transfer funds and airtime top up. Cheque confirmation, bill payments, loan application, account freezing, request for mini statements, flight bookings, airtime and data purchases, are some other services that the chat banking BOT has been helping customers to carry out since 2018.

And Leo, the Artificial Intelligent Bot which carries out seamless conversations with his customers – who he calls his friends by the way- has achieved this and more in its three-year existence; allowing users to carry out quick, fast and recurring transaction with ease from their popular social media accounts such as Facebook and Whatsapp.

No wonder the bank has earned a lot of laurels and accolades in the last three years confirming Leo’s global acceptance and recognitions, as pointed out by UBA’s Group Manging Director, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, some of which are:

‘Africa’s Best Digital Bank of the year’ by Euromoney; The Most; Innovative Bank of the year’ by International Finance; ‘Best Customer Engagement Tool’ by Africa Fintech; Pulse magazine rated Leo on WhatsApp as ‘The best WhatsApp Banking App’; ‘The Best Social Banking platform’ in Uganda; ‘Excellence in Automated Chatbot Initiative’ by Finnovex Awards; ‘Next Generation Class of 2019’ by CIBN; ‘Best Automated Chatbot Initiative, Application or Programme’ by The Asian Banker. The list is endless.

“The formulation of this product, is consistent with UBA’s Customer 1st philosophy, where we have been doing things not the way we like, but focusing on what the customers want, where they want it, and in the exact platform they want it; Uzoka explained. “At UBA, we have been continuously working with technology giants that have the global capacity to ensure not only seamless but also effortless banking for the millions of our customers across Africa; as all the bank’s subsidiaries in Africa have activated Leo to perform financial services for customers.

Continuing, he said, “Since 2018, Leo has been helping with most transactions and to deliver any form of banking services. And this has been highlighted more especially during the lockdown occasioned by the COvid-19 virus, as Leo assisted all its users on all major social media platforms to carry out all their banking activities without having to physically visit a branch. This, to us, remains an admirable feat because with Leo, the banking needs of our customers have become easy and simple – as simple as chatting”; Uzoka pointed out.

Within three years of operations, UBA’s Leo has recorded a number of milestones including opened a total of 390,756 accounts; achieving 2,169,384 subscribers; conducting a total of 9,605,703 transaction count worth a value of N81,530,918,868. Leo which has over 2.1m unique users has also generated over 20 million conversations and over 85 million engagements; with such impressive feedback and usage and remains the only AI BoT showcased at the F8 in Mark’s Zuckerberg’s opening remarks.

UBA’s Group Head, Digital Banking, Sampson Aneke, reiterated that Leo is not just a chat machine, but an artificial intelligence personality meant to address any type of banking concerns raised by customers.

“Leo has been operating a secure lifestyle banking platform on Facebook messenger, WhatsApp and IOS and Andriod to assist customers with their transactions while chatting with your friends and business partners. The security with this platform has been that for every transaction, a One Time Password (OTP) is generated to the phone number that is registered on your account,” he explained, and added that the bank is working tirelessly to improve LEO’s services to the customers in the coming weeks.

United Bank for Africa Plc is a leading Pan-African financial institution, offering banking services to more than twenty-one million customers, across over 1,000 business offices and customer touch points, in 20 African countries. With presence in the United States of America, the United Kingdom 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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Heirs Holdings Acquires 45% of OML 17 from Shell, Total and ENI

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Heirs Holdings (“HH”), the leading African strategic investor, in partnership with affiliated company Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (“Transcorp”), Nigeria’s largest publicly listed conglomerate, announced today the unconditional acquisition of a 45% participating interest in Nigerian oil licence OML 17 and related assets, through TNOG Oil and Gas Limited (a related company of Heirs Holdings and Transcorp), from the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, Total E&P Nigeria Limited and ENI. In addition, TNOG Oil and Gas Limited will have sole operatorship of the asset.

 

The transaction is one of the largest oil and gas financings in Africa in more than a decade, with a financing component of US$1.1 billion, provided by a consortium of global and regional banks and investors. OML 17 has a current production capacity of 27,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day and, according to our estimates, 2P reserves of 1.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent, with an additional 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent resources of further exploration potential.

 

The investment demonstrates a further important advance in the execution of Heirs Holdings’ integrated energy strategy and the Group’s commitment to Africa’s development, through long term investments that create economic prosperity and social wealth. Heirs Holdings’ heritage and approach to business fundamentally underscores its commitment to inclusive development and shared prosperity with its host communities. Heirs Holdings is fully invested in the development of the Niger Delta region.

 

Heirs Holdings’ strategy of creating the leading integrated energy business in Africa is executed through a series of strategic portfolio holdings. Transcorp is one of the largest power producers in Nigeria, with 2,000 MW of installed capacity, through ownership of Transcorp Power Plant and the recent acquisition of Afam Power Plc and Afam Three Fast Power Limited. Transcorp closed the US$300 million Afam acquisitions in November 2020.  Transcorp supplies electricity to the Republic of Benin, as part of an emphasis on promoting regional integration and delivering robust power supply to catalyse development in Africa. Transcorp also operates OPL281, under a production sharing contract with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (“NNPC”). Similarly, Heirs Holdings’ subsidiary, Tenoil is the operator of OPL 2008, under a production sharing contract with NNPC. Tenoil also owns the Ata Marginal Field, which will commence production in Q2, 2021, with 3,500 barrels of oil per day.

 

Chairman of Heirs Holdings, Tony Elumelu stated: “We have a very clear vision: creating Africa’s first integrated energy multinational, a global quality business, uniquely focused on Africa and Africa’s energy needs. The acquisition of such a high-quality asset, with significant potential for further growth, is a strong statement of our confidence in Nigeria, the Nigerian oil and gas sector and a tribute to the extremely high-quality management team that we have assembled. As a Nigerian, and more particularly an indigene of the Niger Delta region, I understand well our responsibilities that come with stewardship of the asset, our engagement with communities and the strategic importance of the oil and gas sector in Nigeria.  We see significant benefits from integrating our production, with our ability to power Nigeria, through Transcorp, and deliver value across the energy value chain.”

 

Speaking further, he said “I would like to thank Shell, Total and ENI, for the professionalism of the process, the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, and the NNPC for the confidence they have placed in us.”

 

Speaking on the investment, the President/GCEO of Transcorp, Owen Omogiafo, said “This deal further demonstrates Transcorp’s integrated energy strategy and our determination to power Africa.”

 

Heirs Holdings was advised by Standard Chartered Plc, as Global Coordinator, and United Capital Plc, with a syndicate of lending institutions including Afreximbank, ABSA, Africa Finance Corporation, Union Bank of Nigeria, Hybrid Capital, and global asset management firm Amundi. The deal also involves Schlumberger as a technical partner, as well as the trading arm of Shell as an offtaker.

 

Heirs Holdings has created one of Africa’s largest, indigenous owned, oil and gas businesses, headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria and led by a board and management team with significant regional and global experience in production, exploration, and value creation in the resources sector. The HH Group is committed to the highest standards of safety, health, and community relations, together with best practice in governance and accountability.

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Movement that inspires’: Kia Presents its New Brand Purpose and Future Strategy

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Kia has announced new details of its new brand purpose and ambitions for the future during a digital showcase event. Supported by a new brand slogan, ‘Movement that inspires’, Kia today reveals new details of a strategy that will see the company go beyond vehicle manufacturing to create sustainable mobility solutions for customers.

Signaling the brand breaking away from its traditional manufacturing-driven business model, Kia has announced a new corporate name. Removing the ‘Motors’ from its name (previously ‘Kia Motors Corporation’), Kia will expand into new and emerging business areas by creating innovative mobility products and services to improve customers’ daily lives.

Ho Sung Song, President and CEO of Kia Corporation, comments: “At Kia, we believe that transportation, mobility, and movement represent a human right. Our vision is to create sustainable mobility solutions for consumers, communities, and societies globally. Today we start putting this vision into action with the launch of our new brand purpose and strategy for the future.”

Introducing Kia’s new brand purpose and slogan: ‘Movement that inspires’

Kia’s new brand slogan, ‘Movement that inspires’, is introduced today at the heart of a brand manifesto which reflects Kia’s new purpose of inspiring consumers through products and services, and their experiences with the brand.

Kia’s new brand purpose emphasizes that movement is at the genesis of human development. Movement enables people to see new places, to meet new people, and to have new experiences. This connection is the essence of Kia’s new brand – to enable human progress by providing innovative in-car spaces, exciting new products, and meaningful, convenient services that inspire customers and free up time for the activities that they enjoy the most.

Artur Martins, Senior Vice President, Head of Global Brand & Customer Experience at Kia said “Movement has always been at the heart of our brand, and moving people at the core of our business. Movement helps humankind to constantly progress, improve, and evolve. That is why at Kia we believe that movement inspires ideas.”

Kia has been in the ‘movement’ industry for more than 75 years, and the company went on to create Korea’s first domestic bicycles and to manufacture motorcycles and delivery trucks. Today, Kia is one of the biggest automakers globally, providing high-value passenger vehicles to millions of people around the world.

Under its new brand purpose, Kia will meet changing customer expectations about how they move, and how their movement impacts the world around them. Consumers are increasingly seeking out flexible, environmentally conscious, and integrated forms of transportation.

Kia’s new brand strategy is to respond to – and shape – these changing expectations by developing a range of products and services to meet customers’ needs in markets around the globe. These will offer greater access to a wider range of environmentally conscious mobility products and services to meet growing demand from customers worldwide for flexible, customizable, individualized mobility solutions, enabled by data and new technologies.

Kia Corporation’s broader vision for sustainable mobility

Reflecting the brand’s broader vision for mobility, Kia has announced today a new corporate name as it expands into new business areas to promote sustainable mobility. By removing the ‘Motors’ from its name, Kia’s new corporate name shows a commitment to its long-term ‘Plan S’ business strategy. This was announced in 2020 and will see the brand establish a leadership position in the future mobility industry, expanding its business to encompass EVs, mobility solutions and services, purpose-built vehicles, and more. Alongside these efforts, Kia will simultaneously promote more sustainable production through the usage of clean energy and recyclable materials.

Kia is focused on popularizing battery electric vehicles (BEVs), and plans to reinforce its global product line-up with the introduction of seven new dedicated BEVs by 2027. These new models will include a range of passenger vehicles, SUVs, and MPVs across several segments, each incorporating industry-leading technology for long-range driving and high-speed charging from Hyundai Motor Group’s new Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP).

Kia is also developing a range of new Purpose-Built Vehicles (PBVs) for corporate customers. These specialized vehicles will be based on flexible ‘skateboard’ platforms, with modular bodies designed to meet the specific mobility needs of a broad range of corporate and fleet customers. Partnerships with the likes of Canoo and Arrival will mean Kia PBVs can offer different bodies mounted on top of an integrated modular ‘skateboard’ platform, tailored to users’ functional requirements.

Demand for PBVs is expected to grow five-fold by 2030 due to rapid and sustained growth in e-commerce and car-sharing services. Bespoke Kia PBVs will be tailored to meet the needs of corporate and fleet customers. For instance, these could include car-sharing vehicles, low-floor logistics vehicles, and delivery vehicles.

The change in the company’s corporate name also means transforming the organization’s working culture. President Song explains: “Changing our corporate name and logo is not only a cosmetic improvement. It represents us expanding our horizons and establishing new and emerging businesses that meet and exceed the diverse needs of our customers worldwide. More importantly, it also means adapting our working culture, enabling the creativity of all our employees, and establishing an inspiring work environment.”

Development of eco-friendly mobility services

Another strategic objective under Plan S is a commitment by Kia to diversify its business to offer eco-friendly mobility services, centered on electric and autonomous driving across major global cities.

In addition, Kia is ramping up collaboration and partnerships with global mobility solutions businesses, diversifying mobility services in global strategic regions. In 2018, the company invested in Grab, Southeast Asia’s largest ride-hailing service, food delivery and payment solutions company; and in Ola in March 2019, an Indian company offering peer-to-peer ridesharing, ride-service hailing, taxi, food delivery and other mobility services.

Kia is also establishing other mobility services, including WiBLE, a car-sharing joint venture with Repsol, Spain’s major energy corporation, in Madrid. Launched in September 2018, WiBLE operates 500 Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid EVs (PHEVs) through a free-floating method that allows users to freely rent and return vehicles within the service area. WiBLE remains one of Europe’s most successful shared mobility schemes, with over 130,000 members having registered since its inauguration. A new service, KiaMobility, was also launched in locations across Italy and Russia in September 2020, accelerating the company’s transformation to becoming a mobility solutions provider. KiaMobility will be introduced to several new markets in the years ahead.

Coming soon: Kia’s first dedicated BEV and a new design philosophy

The first of Kia’s next-generation BEVs will be revealed in the first quarter of 2021, embodying Kia’s shifting focus towards electrification. Based on new E-GMP technology, this dedicated BEV will boast a crossover-inspired design, while offering an electric driving range of over 500 kilometers and a high-speed charging time of under 20 minutes. This will also be the first global model to bear Kia’s new logo.

With its growing range of BEVs, Kia is targeting a 6.6% share of the global BEV market by 2025, and global annual sales of 500,000 BEVs by 2026.

Kia will also reveal more information about the new design direction of its future products and services in the weeks ahead, with a new design philosophy that reflects the brand’s transformation.

Karim Habib, Senior Vice President, Head of Kia Global Design Center, explains: “We want our products to deliver an instinctive and natural experience that can improve the daily lives of our customers. Our aim is to design the physical experience of our brand and to create original, inventive, and exciting electric vehicles. The ideas of our designers and the purpose of the brand are more connected than ever, with our customers at the center of what we do.”

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