The introduction of N50 stamp duty on individual transactions above N1000 has led to a reduction in the number of electronic payments processed by agent banking service providers on a daily basis.
As a result, customers affected by this policy have resorted to withdrawing money through the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) and across-the-counter.
Looming danger: While members of the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents (AMMBAN) in Nigeria are unhappy with the situation and threatened a protest, Nairametrics gathered that more filling stations in Lagos and Ogun states are gearing up to introduce the same N50 stamp duty charges on payment above N1,000 on PoS terminals and web platforms.
On the other hand, a few mini-marts in Lagos have stalled on the implementation of the policy owing to the fact that their customers could be lost in the process.
Reacting to the policy aftermath, Oluwasegun Abbey, a mobile money operator with agents in five locations in Kwara and Oyo states explained that he used to process between 800 and 900 transactions per day before the policy. However, with the current introduction of charges on individual payments, transactions have dwindled to 600 and 700 every day.
President of AMMBAN, Mr Victor Olojo noted that the policy had only made things worse and he called for a reversal of the policy which he believed would affect the CBN’s motives.
“It has grossly affected transactions. People now prefer to go back to the Automated Teller Machines rather than the PoS because of the charges.
“It is a big issue for us and we feel that the government needs to listen; that policy should be reversed. We have written a letter of protest to the CBN and other relevant stakeholders. We feel that the policy is anti-people because it is the same government that is driving financial inclusion that is also imposing this tax that is affecting those at the base of the pyramid,” he said.
What you should know: Recall that the CBN recently announced a review of the charges for merchant settlement in a bid to further advance the cash-less economy and to enhance the collection of applicable government revenues.
The Apex Bank approved that banks should unbundle merchant settlement amounts and charge applicable taxes and duties on individual transactions as stipulated by regulations.
CBN reviewed the Merchant Service Charge (MSC) from 0.75% capped at N1,200 to 0.50% capped at N1,000 while also disclosing its intention to charge bank customers making cash deposits and withdrawals. The charges, according to the Central Bank, would attract 3% processing fees for withdrawals and 2% processing fees for lodgments of amounts above N500,000 for individual accounts.
3 startups to get N3 million grant each in the COVID-19 virtual hackathon
The hackathon hopes to identify accessible and cost-effective E-Learning solutions for public schools.
The Nigerian Communications Commission has announced that 3 finalist startups will get a grant of N3 million each at the end of the COVID-19 virtual hackathon.
These three startups will be selected from submitted entries that meet all the criteria and provide adaptable digital solutions for addressing the present and future impacts of pandemic and epidemic diseases.
The solutions must be novel, clearly explained, with proof of concept
NCC announced this through a statement published on its Twitter handle.
The grant, it said, will enable the three startups with the most promising digital solutions to produce a prototype within 2 months of receipt.
According to the statement, submitted entries are expected to provide solutions in sectors such as health, digital communications, education, transportation.
For those in health, the solutions should find a way to empower frontline healthcare workers or prevent, trace, and contain the spread in Nigeria.
Solutions in digital communications are expected to aid the sustenance of economic activities and people-to-people communication while encouraging social distancing without compromising productivity.
The hackathon also hopes to identify accessible and cost-effective E-Learning solutions for public schools, as well as improved safety measures in public transportation in Nigeria.
Interested tech hubs, startups and innovative digital SMEs can still submit entries on or before July 17, 2020.
CBN expands scope of regional banks in Nigeria, gives compliance timeframe
The aim of this directive is to expand the reach of the regional banks across the country, the CBN said.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has expanded the scope of regional banks in the country, by requiring them to open branches in at least one additional geopolitical zone outside of the existing geopolitical zones where their operating licenses cover.
A circular that was issued earlier this week by the apex bank said this new directive is in accordance with “section 8 (g) of the CBN Scope, Conditions & Minimum Standards for Commercial Banks Regulations no  2010 as revised on September 4, 2019.”
The new directive took effect on Friday, June 26, 2020. In other words, all the regional banks are expected to have become aware of this development since then. They now have a timeframe of six months to establish their presence in the geopolitical zones outside of where they currently operate.
It should be noted that prior to this time, regional banks in the country typically operated in at least two geopolitical zones of the federation. However, in line with the new expansion, the CBN shall now prescribe an additional geopolitical zone for each of these regional banks, thereby making the coverage area three geopolitical zones per regional bank.
Meanwhile, the CBN said the aim of this directive is to expand the reach of the regional banks across the country, whilst ultimately promoting financial inclusion. Note also that the new directive affects all regional banks, both the ones engaged in commercial banking and non-interest banking. Some part of the circular said:
“Effective the date of this circular, all banks with regional authorisation shall be required to operate from one additional geopolitical zone as may be prescribed for each institution by the CBN, without prejudice to the existing requirement of the minimum of two (2) geopolitical zones of the federation. The essence is to promote spread and balance of the regional banks across the country.
“The compliance timeline to establish operational footprint at the advised zone shall not exceed six (6) months from the issuance of the regulatory advice to each regional bank by the CBN.”
Nigerian and US Authorities battle former Enron Nigerian Subsidiary over $80 million Yacht
Both Nigerian and American governments have opposed Enron Nigeria’s appeal.
19 years after the bankruptcy of Enron Corporation, one of the biggest corporate bankruptcies in American history, a former subsidiary of the company is battling Nigerian and American Authorities over the sale of a yacht valued at over $80 million acquired by Nigerian businessman Kolawole Aluko.
The yacht was seized by the US Government in 2018 after prosecutors say it was bought with the proceeds of bribes paid to Nigeria’s former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison–Madueke.
The yacht was later auctioned for $37 million in 2019. The Nigerian government also dropped claims to the proceeds of the sale recently and a Texas Court ordered all proceeds should be retained by the US Government.
However, a former unit of the Bankrupt Enron, Enron Nigeria Power Holdings claims it’s entitled to the proceeds and demands $22 million in a bid to get an arbitration awarded to them against the Nigerian government for suspending a contract signed with Enron in 1999 to build and operate a Power plant.
Enron Nigeria claims the Nigerian government dropped claims to the proceeds of the yacht’s auction in an attempt to fraudulently transfer assets to stop creditors from accessing them. Saying Nigeria dropping its claims was “a recognition of the factual and legal basis” in a DOJ court filing.
Both Nigerian and American governments have opposed Enron Nigeria’s appeal.
Enron Nigeria Power Holdings Ltd is owned by ex-Enron staff involved in the negotiations for the Power Plant contract in Nigeria and was bought out of bankruptcy for $750,000 in 2004 by a Cayman Islands registered company.
An arbitration ruling in 2012 awarded Enron Nigeria Power Holdings $11.2 million including interest in damages against the Nigerian government.
The DOJ says Mr. Aluko bought the yacht for $82 million in 2013 and funded a lavish lifestyle for Alison Madueke in exchange for NNPC contracts valued at over $1.5 billion.
Aluko and his business partner, Olajide Omokore are also accused of laundering illicit revenues into and through the United States