Africa’s leading technology entrepreneur, Leo Stan Ekeh has charged the Federal Government to leverage technology in reducing to the barest minimum the growing incidences of corporate debts and usher in an era of unprecedented boom and sanity in the Nigerian economy.
He made this assertion while delivering the Guest Lecture at the maiden edition of the 2018 Nigerian Online Merit Awards (NiOMA) held on Friday July 13th at Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja.
Ekeh, Chairman of the Zinox Group, who disclosed that technology will resolve much of the contemporary problems facing the Nigerian state if holistically applied, noted that the country will benefit immensely if the government turns to technology in its search for lasting solutions to the challenges confronting the economy.
According to Ekeh, the recent revelation by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) that, about 350 Nigerians account for 80 per cent of its N5.4 trillion debt portfolio and the refusal of majority of these debtors to liquidate their indebtedness is an issue that can be easily resolved through the application of technology if there exists accurate data of how these debts arose.
In his opinion, it could also be that the government at different levels are partially responsible for some these debts, especially if they were unable to meet their obligations to some of these corporates. Ekeh acknowledged that the present debt profile should be a case study for upcoming entrepreneurs or part of the issues to be dissected by data analysts on why some of these businesses failed, noting that this may also reveal a lot of insider compromises on the part of the lenders so that sincere lessons could be learnt and better structure and systems put in place to avert a recurrence.
“Working in concert with the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Attorney General of the Federation and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for enforcement purposes, AMCON can leverage a simple technology application that makes it easy to access the bank balances of debtors across all the various banks in Nigeria. This will be a mandatory requirement for the extension of loans and credit facilities and will foster more responsible borrowing as the lenders can easily debit the accounts of borrowers upon due date to recover sums extended.
“This will not only reduce the growing profile and negative trend of corporate debts, with its attendant detrimental effect on the economy but will also expose many Nigerians who are publicly hailed as billionaires but who are only living large off depositors’ money, while frustrating further lending to start ups,” he stated.
Disclosing the many ways he has relied on technology to ramp up efficiency in his various businesses and simplify complex processes, Ekeh revealed that by next week, he would be trying out a new Enterprise application that will simplify transaction with bankers, irrespective of the numbers.
“This application will give us control over all of our bank accounts instead of relying on bank staff to implement our instruction at their convenience.”
He also disclosed that the new warehouses widely reported as recently acquired by e-commerce giant Konga were equipped with digital cameras with data analytics and artificial intelligence capabilities which can easily detect fraud and random inconsistencies such as a change in the appearance of an individual or item captured on entry into the facilities. Most importantly, these cameras are cloud based.
Urging the government to commit more resources to technology in resolving the unemployment challenges and drive the nation towards rapid development, Ekeh cited the influence of technology in the political space which has reduced post-election litigations from 87% to about 33%, noting that this will further reduce to 11% or thereabouts with the adoption of electronic voting, if funded by the government.
“Technology does not lie; it is either you are right or wrong. With technology, you can do unimaginable things. You don’t even need to go through the four walls of a University to acquire quality education,” Ekeh enthused.
The Zinox Chairman who spoke on the theme – Leveraging the Internet Revolution to leapfrog Nigeria’s development – affirmed that Information Technology will disrupt the Nigerian economy positively by the year 2023, creating immense opportunities and new wealth for many Nigerians. Noting that this will happen irrespective of the status of leadership at the helm of affairs in the country, Ekeh urged attendees at the event to prepare for the coming disruption.
While appreciating the organizers and Publisher of News Express, Mr. Isaac Umunna, Ekeh who received the ICT Icon of the Year award at the event also seized the opportunity to recognize the media for the long years of support in spreading the ICT gospel, even as he declared his intention to stand down from participation at many of such future events in order to allow the younger generation and his son, Prince Nnamdi Ekeh, founder of Yudala to take the stage as he believes they have better global education and exposure to lead the nation to the digital promised land.
Among dignitaries in attendance at the event was former Executive Vice-Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe who chaired the event; Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode represented by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Kehinde Bamigbetan; Publisher of the Guardian Newspapers, Mrs. Maiden Ibru; former Vice-Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University and Chairman, Editorial Board of the Guardian, Prof. Wale Omole and Editor, Vanguard Newspapers, Mr. Eze Anaba, among others.
Bitcoin: The good, the bad, the future
Bitcoin is the first successful global peer-to-peer cash implementation that lets everyone store and exchange value with others.
Cheers. Here’s to something we all know, maybe most of us but mostly, here’s to something some of us most likely want to deny; “Bitcoin has come to stay” and we must raise our glasses to the doggedness of all and sundry involved in the efforts to complement and consolidate the stability, acceptance, profitability, and growth of BTC world over.
In recent weeks, Bitcoin and holders have enjoyed over 8 percent increase in the prices of Bitcoin world over, justifying the decision to hold on to the digital currency and has, in turn, led to a spike in the acceptance, recognition, and investment of individuals and corporations in the digital currency. Going forward, with teeming interest in Bitcoin, it is imperative to educate enthusiasts and potential investors on and about the story so far and in tandem help inform better decisions as to the future of the ‘gold mine’.
On the surface, one of the many perks of BTC and/or cryptocurrency is the accessibility. Without any middlemen, government officials, monetary economists, and other intermediaries or regulators, such a system can operate. Essentially, Bitcoin is the first successful global peer-to-peer cash implementation that lets everyone, no matter who or where they are, store and exchange value with others.
However, the unregulated use of bitcoin itself and the possibility of leaving a holder legally unprotected should anything go wrong has been one of the major concerns in the global market. Secondly in the eventuality of a hard drive crash, or if a virus corrupts your data and subsequently corrupts the wallet file, Bitcoin held on such wallet will be essentially been “lost” with no way to recovering it. The coins in context will then be forever orphaned in the system, therefore, increasing the chance of bankruptcy for a wealthy Bitcoin investor.
Pros and cons of Bitcoin
- The most transparent financial system to date is Bitcoin. All over the planet, and where there is no banking system, you can make payments with Bitcoins 24/7.
- With Bitcoins, foreign money transfers can be quicker and cheaper than with conventional banking and services.
- Bitcoin is the only asset ever created that cannot be taken from you by force (if taken proper precautions). Often, BTC transactions are also not censorable, and no one can stop you from performing transactions.
- Bitcoin also has valuable business features, such as multi-signature authorization and accounting transparency. Multi-signature ensures that many individuals need to sign off on an invoice, which provides more security. And the very existence of a blockchain, where all transactions are public, strengthens a company’s transparency.
- Bitcoin is pseudonymous, and without any authentication or credit history, anyone can open their wallet through the internet. In under-banked regions and third world countries, it is particularly beneficial where most individuals are struggling to get access to capital.
- Bitcoins can be spent on a desktop device, cell phone, or debit card in the same way you spend conventional digital money.
- Bitcoins are deflationary, unlike fiat currencies, implying that their value is set to appreciate by default.
- The most portable asset ever produced is Bitcoin, which can be transmitted via satellite or even radio.
- Bitcoin has the most brand awareness, liquidity, the most integrated ecosystem, and most acceptance among numerous retailers and organizations compared to other cryptocurrencies.
- For small fee, regular retail transactions such as buying tea, groceries, or simply tipping someone online, the Lightning Network can be used for this.
- Bitcoin presents a programmable money principle that allows for more financial developments, such as “smart contracts.”
- By providing an alternative to people who mistrust their government, certain institutions, politicians, or simply believe in the power of decentralization, Bitcoin disrupts the monopoly of capital.
- When things go south, little or no regulatory oversight is needed.
- Despite attempts to allow offline Bitcoin transfers, the use of the currency still depends largely on the availability of the internet.
- As Bitcoin is still in progress, depending on mining efficiency and network congestion, the transaction speed and fees appear to differ.
- Converting Bitcoins to fiat requires payments that are often expensive.
- Bitcoins are not approved by many shops or service providers. The figure is rising, though.
- Bitcoin transactions are immutable, which means there’s no way to bring them back once the money leaves your wallet. While several reputation management tools are being created, the thing with Bitcoin is that there is no “buyer’s protection.” Conversely, since accepting BTC removes the risk of fraudulent chargebacks, it may help merchants.
- Many individuals are not prepared to assume full responsibility for their properties and are unable to safely handle their private keys. Beyond recovery, several private Bitcoin keys have been lost, thereby leading to Bitcoin’s deflation and value appreciation.
- A steep learning curve is given by learning all the latest ins and outs of the Bitcoin ecosystem. In most Bitcoin applications, the user interface is still not foolproof, and the network is not ready to support anyone in the world.
- Securing Bitcoin needs basic knowledge and understanding of cybersecurity. Although the network is practically unhackable, there are organizations and individuals that are trying to hack Bitcoin wallets.
- Bitcoin’s central philosophy goes against the most influential institutions, governments, politics, banks, regulators, and censorship, and before these players can tolerate or approve it, it is likely to face a lot of opposition.
The future we project
According to Coindesk, some economic analysts expect that a big shift in cryptography is coming in January 2021, as institutional capital enters the market. There is also the possibility of floating crypto on the Nasdaq, which will further give prestige as an alternative traditional currency that is powered by the blockchain. Some expect that a regulated trading platform is all that crypto needs.
Any of the restrictions that cryptocurrencies currently face, such as the fact that a computer crash may delete one’s digital fortune, or that a hacker may ransack a virtual vault, may be resolved in time through technological advances. What is more difficult to solve is the underlying paradox of cryptocurrencies the more common they become, the more regulated government scrutiny. They are likely to be drawn, eroding the essential premise of their life.
While the number of merchants embracing cryptocurrencies has risen gradually, they are still very much in the minority. They must first gain widespread acceptance among consumers for cryptocurrencies to become more widely used. However, except for the technologically adept, their relative difficulty compared to traditional currencies would probably discourage most individuals.
A cryptocurrency that aspires to be part of the mainstream financial system may have to follow widely divergent requirements. It will have to be mathematically complex (to deter fraud and hacker attacks) but easy to understand for customers; And maintain user anonymity without becoming a backdoor for tax evasion, money laundering, and other nefarious activities; decentralized yet with sufficient customer protections and security. Since these are enormous requirements to meet, the most common cryptocurrency will probably have attributes in a few years between highly regulated fiat currencies and the cryptocurrency of today? Although that possibility looks distant, there is little doubt that the success (or lack thereof) of Bitcoin in coping with the difficulties it faces as the leading cryptocurrency at present will decide the fortunes of other cryptocurrencies in the years ahead.
It might be wise to handle your ‘investment’ in the same way you would treat any other highly risky enterprise if you are considering investing in cryptocurrencies. In other words, realize that you run the risk of losing the bulk, if not all, of your investment. As previously mentioned, aside from what a buyer is willing to pay for it at a point in time, a cryptocurrency has no intrinsic value and have your share in the digital economy.
Orange One Finance unveils cheap loan facilities for individuals, businesses
Orange One has unveiled an array of financial products that would see the firm extend credit to the economy.
There is a sigh of relief for individuals and businesses, in need of cheap loans, after loan and asset financing firm, Orange One unveiled an array of financial products that would see the firm extend credit to the economy.
Managing Director of Orange-One Finance, Iyobosa Iyamu, listed six financial products on offer by the company, to meet the needs of its growing clientele base. They include, among others – Personal loan, Asset Finance, Working Capital Loan and Invoice Discounting Facility. Others are Local Purchase Order (LPO) Financing and Contract Finance. “We do engage our customers- individuals as well as SME’s – in building a beneficial relationship that helps us partner with them in achieving their financial and business goals,” Iyamu said.
The Orange-One boss disclosed that the company’s personal loan which ranges between N100, 000 and N4 million was targeted at meeting urgent needs of customers. The loan which is payable in a space of one year, is available to professionals in the banking sector or blue chip/multinational organisations. “This category of loans is secured by proof of employment and may not require collateral but will require a guarantor(s) depending on the amount,” she said.
The Asset Finance product of the company is an extended rental agreement where the asset financed belongs to the financier until the lease has been fully paid down through monthly lease payments. The client is required to make an equity contribution of at least 30 percent of the value of the asset to be purchased while the financier pays the balance. The tenure for asset finance is 12 – 24 months.
Iyamu said her company’s working capital facility is a loan that can be used to enhance business operations and increase the profitability of small and medium scale enterprises. This loan is available for businesses that have been in operation for at least 2 years.
Meanwhile, she noted that the current needs of the business and its ability to repay after enhancement of operating capital are critically evaluated. “While the business cash flow projections are important the historical assessment is equally critical for this category of loans. Businesses that keep records and bank proceeds stand a higher chance of accessing working capital/bridge finance to take the business to the next level. The tenure for this is usually 6 – 12 months.”
Iyamu added: “With our Invoice Discounting facility, we provide instant access to cash based on receivables of the organization. An invoice discounting facility makes cash available for jobs/contracts that have been successfully executed and it’s usually more flexible than a typical loan. The repayment is tied to the agreement subsisting between the issuer of the contract/purchase order and the contractor/supplier. Usually, only an agreed percentage of the invoice value is discounted.”
She added that the personal loan is accessible through the website: www.orangeonefinance.com
Q4 2020 Unaudited Report: Unilever Nigeria records 84% growth in Turnover
The Unaudited interim report also indicates that the Company recorded Turnover of N61.6bn for the year ended 31st December 2020.
Unilever Nigeria Plc released its unaudited interim report for the quarter ended 31st December 2020. The Company recorded Turnover of N16.8 billion in the period under review which represents 84% topline growth compared to N9.1bn Turnover recorded in the corresponding quarter in 2019.
The result showed that the company recorded a gross profit of N3.9bn for the quarter ended 31st December 2020 relative to gross loss of N2.9bn reported for the quarter ended 31st December 2019.
Overall, profit after tax for the quarter ended 31st December 2020 was N468mn representing a turnaround from the loss after tax of N4.7bn reported for the corresponding period in 2019.
The Unaudited interim report also indicates that the Company recorded Turnover of N61.6bn for the year ended 31st December 2020 which reflects a marginal topline growth compared to N60.8bn reported for the year ended 31st December 2019. Loss after tax reduced to N1.6bn compared to loss after tax of N4.2bn recorded for the year ended 31st December 2019.
Speaking on the results, the Corporate Affairs and Sustainable Business Director, ‘Soromidayo George stated that while 2020 was a year of significant disruptions and volatilities impacting the operating environment, Unilever Nigeria continues to build its resilience to navigate the impact of headwinds.
Mrs. George added that Unilever Nigeria remains focused on its strategy to deliver sustainable growth both in the medium and long-term riding on the pillars of operational efficiency, cost optimization, purposeful brands and increasing market share across key categories.
“We will continue to monitor the business environment and respond appropriately to volatilities in the operating environment as well as disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.