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Financial Services

Focus on one positive impact of COVID-19 on the financial services sector

Mobile money transfers have been instrumental in helping to curtail the spread of the highly-contagious COVID-19.

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Mobile Money services

MTN Group Ltd said the COVID-19 pandemic has helped to accelerate the adoption of mobile financial services across Africa. The Johannesburg-based telco, which is the parent company of MTN Nigeria, recently launched its MOMO service which is focused mainly on reaching a lot of the unbanked populace in Nigeria and elsewhere.

A statement made available by the company, as seen by Nairametrics, noted that cashless transfers have been among the best methods for curtailing the spread of the virus. This explains why a lot of people in Africa now rely on it.

MTN Group’s executive director in charge of mobile money services, Serigne Dioum, was quoted to have said:

“As many countries adopted partial or total lockdowns, we witnessed an evolution in the type and volume of Mobile Money transactions. We saw a significant increase in MoMo Pay merchant and bill payments despite an initial decline in Mobile Money agent transactions due to the restrictions. However, we have already started to see a gradual increase as restrictions have been eased.

READ MORE: Nigeria Joins Canada, Thailand and others in taxing digital companies

“These changes, triggered by COVID-19, have enabled the acceleration and scaling of cashless and digital economies. They support our ambition to transition to an end-to-end platform, creating a digital marketplace and connecting consumers to businesses, and businesses to businesses.

“We see this as a significant opportunity to change the outlook for affordable, inclusive, understandable and comprehensive financial services in Africa and the Middle East.”

Partly due to this development, Africa has witnessed the fastest growth rate for mobile money use in the world, the statement by MTN said.

READ ALSO: Electroneum, a Cryptocurrency, to launch electricity Top-Ups in Nigeria

It should be noted that before the advent of mobile financial services, many Nigerians (and Africans) were unbanked. No thanks to their lack of education, limited financial resources, and rural living environments, many people were inadvertently excluded from accessing financial services such as access to credit facilities. However, the story is different today due to the activities of fintechs and other mobile financial services providers such as MTN.

The MTN MOMO service was launched in Nigeria back in August 2019, with the hopes of replicating the same success Safaricom’s M-Pesa has recorded in Kenya.

Emmanuel is a professional writer and business journalist, with interests covering Banking & Finance, Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate Profiles, Brand Communication, Fintech, and MSMEs.He initially joined Nairametrics as an all-round Business Analyst, but later began focusing on and covering the financial services sector. He has also held various leadership roles, including Senior Editor, QAQC Lead, and Deputy Managing Editor.Emmanuel holds an M.Sc in International Relations from the University of Ibadan, graduating with Distinction. He also graduated with a Second Class Honours (Upper Division) from the Department of Philosophy & Logic, University of Ibadan.If you have a scoop for him, you may contact him via his email- [email protected] You may also contact him through various social media platforms, preferably LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Financial Services

Inflationary concerns may lead to higher rate; Why 3 CBN MPC members want rates hiked

Despite the slight push back, the MPC decided to hold the rates, owing to the supply factor and the weak economic recovery of Nigeria.

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CBN forex restrictions on food itemsCBN approves new cheque standard for banks

Three members of the CBN’s Monetary Policy Committee proposed a rate hike citing several factors including Nigeria’s galloping inflation rate. Their decisions contradict those held by other members of the committee who voted for a continuation of the current monetary policy rate of 11.5%.

This was contained in the personal statement of members of the  Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in the meeting held on the 22nd and 23rd of March 2021. The decision to hold the rate steady was not unanimous as three out of the nine members voted to increase rates. These disconnects from the majority took their stand as a result of inflationary concern facing the Nigerian economy.

According to the Central Bank of Nigeria Communiqué No. 135 Of The Monetary Policy Committee Meeting, the members who were in support of hiking rates are namely; OBADAN, MIKE IDIAHI; SHONUBI, FOLASHODUN A.; and ADENIKINJU, ADEOLA FESTUS. The prime reason was the risk of high inflation on the economy.

Despite the slight push back, the MPC decided to hold the rates, owing to the supply factor and the weak economic recovery of Nigeria. The CBN governor Godwin I. Emefiele and five others were in support of maintaining rate despite unstable inflation postulating that supply factor is fundamental to healthy recovery especially as a result of the pandemic.

Emefiele said: “Supply constraints remain the key driver of both the inflationary pressure and the weak growth that we observe today. The weak GDP recovery provides an argument for further policy ease to support growth, but rising inflationary expectations justify a tightening. My inclination today is for a more balanced and cautious approach to monetary impulses.”

Even though Emefiele admitted that inflation rate could rise in the near term, he feared that an adjustment of the MPR could worsen Nigeria’s “conditions” especially with the tepid recovery we are still experiencing.

“I reiterate the imperatives of targeted lending to productive sectors to sustain growth without undermining our core objective of price stability. Based on the near-term inflation expectations and growth outlook, my position is to maintain the current stance of monetary policy and intensify our interventions. An adjustment today could in my view, destabilize the fragile recovery and worsen domestic conditions.”

However, some members who did not share the view and speculation about higher inflation may affirm this stand OBADAN, MIKE IDIAHI postulated that the CBN should put more pressure on deposit money banks to comply with the LDR scheme, according to him.

OBADAN stated that, “We are faced with the dilemma of low and fragile growth that needs to be reversed, accelerating inflation also needs to be tamed because it is Classified as Confidential and has a negative impact on people’s welfare and macroeconomic stability which is required for enhanced investment and production. Orthodox policy instruments available to the Bank are not capable of achieving the desired goals of strong growth and inflation control simultaneously without sacrificing one for the other. Stability needs to be brought to bear on the policy-induced drivers of the current inflation acceleration, while the MPR can be raised marginally with three objectives in mind: to signal the sensitivity of the Bank to address any possible monetary influence on inflation.”

A skeptical and more hawkish Obadan also suggested that the recent inflation rate was also due to monetary policy reasons such as increased lending due to CBN’s LDR Policy, depreciation of the naira and a lower interest rate environment which drives people into assets that provide a hedge against the naira.  He also suggested that more efforts should be geared towards attracting foreign portfolio inflows.

“The factor of monetary influence on inflation cannot be ruled out completely. It interacts with other factors to drive inflation, perhaps, in a limited role. Against the backdrop of the Loan-to Deposit Ratio (LDR) policy, I do not expect the MPR adjustment to adversely affect the volume of lending significantly. To this end, we should put more pressure on the deposit money banks to comply with the LDR policy. Marginal upward adjustment of the MPR can also signal the desire of the Bank to tackle the phenomenon of negative real interest rate. Finally, in the short term, it could be a signal to foreign private investors while we implement measures to ensure stable sources of external reserves accretion in the medium term. Yes, foreign portfolio investment flows are indeed hot monies that tend to be very volatile. However, under conditions of improving growth, such flows could play a stabilising role in the economy. So, my vote is: raise MPR by 50 basis points and leave the other parameters as they are.”

SHONUBI, FOLASHODUN A., on the other hand, emphasized inaction was not an option considering how weak and fragile the economy currently is.

“Clearly, not doing anything will portray the Bank as abandoning its mandate of price stability. In as much as growth remains weak and fragile, we cannot afford to pull the brake to avert a more damaging reversal of the trend in output growth. Notwithstanding that the present inflationary pressure is largely attributed to non-monetary factors, its persistence, and reversal of the moderation in month-on-month growth stresses the need for the Bank to take immediate action. Whereas it may appear unfeasible to deploy the conventional monetary policy to pursue growth and tame inflation simultaneously, the Bank cannot abandon either of the objectives at this time.”

He also called for the continued intervention in key sectors of the economy postulating that this will boost economic growth.

“I believe the Bank’s interventions through the aggressive provision of credit should continue as a complement to the ongoing effort by the fiscal authority to boost economic activities. As the Government acts more decisively to discourage bad behaviour and restore orderliness, we must collectively work to overcome the insecurity challenges. At the same time, we must begin to tighten to deal with the subtle monetary component of inflationary pressure and curb spiraling inflation, without suffocating economic growth.”

Jaiz bank

Adenikinju, the last of the trio emphasized on the need for the CBN to focus on addressing higher inflationary environment. He also explained that addressing inflation will signal to economic agents that the central bank is keen on stabilizing prices thus curbing the demand for forex.

He stated that the persistently high inflation rate is cause for concern and that the CBN should begin refocusing its efforts to counter it, signaling to the wider economy that the CBN’s top priority would help to minimize foreign exchange market excesses, reduce liquidity-induced inflationary pressures on the economy, and protect fixed-income earners.

“The rising global commodity prices, plus the depreciating exchange rates and relatively high costs of shipping and clearing of goods at the Nigerian ports have all contributed to high imported inflation and reduced the extent to which imports could have mitigated the impacts of high domestic food prices in the short term. However, the weak economic growth, rising unemployment and poverty also mean that we cannot aggressively pursue strict price stability at a time we are slowly crawling out of recession. I see the CBN intervention credit as complementary and not a substitution to credit from the deposit money banks. Also given the focus of capital expenditure of the government this year, it then means that we can focus on growth and tackle inflation at the same time. However, I believe the persistently high inflation rate is concerning enough for CBN to start shifting its focus to address it. Signaling to economic agents that price stability remains the focus of the CBN will also curb some of the excesses in the foreign exchange market and reduce the liquidity induced inflationary pressures on the economy and protect fixed income earners.”

Bottom line

Whilst the trio may not have gotten their wish, we believe the CBN might raise rates to cool off the galloping inflation rate. The CBN has gradually raised rates on its short-dated securities, a clear indication that it is worried about widening the negative real interest rate emanating from rising inflation.

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Financial Services

How to invest in Nigerian Eurobonds

Before investing in Eurobonds, weigh the bond’s risk characteristics and set them against the interest rate to know if it is worth it.

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Treasury Market T-bills, African Finance Corp. issues $750 million 7-year Eurobond at lowest yield to date

As of 2019, Nigeria’s Eurobonds were regarded as one of the top 5 best-performing Eurobonds in the world.

Although Nigeria’s Eurobonds remain one of the most profitable in the investment world, not many individuals know how to invest in them. The Federal Government and a number of corporate organisations in the country subscribe to Eurobonds and issue them quite often, lending credence to their attractiveness as an investment tool.

What is Eurobond?

Basically, Eurobonds are financial instruments issued by a country or corporate organisation in a currency different from the currency of the issuer.

Nigeria typically issues Eurobond instruments denominated in US dollars. For example, the 6.75% $500 million January 2021 Eurobond was denominated in US dollars.

There is the sovereign, which is referred to as a government bond, and the corporate bond. Eurobonds operate like fixed income securities in terms of bond instruments. It has a coupon, an interest rate paid on bonds (which is paid bi-annually), a price at which the bond will be purchased, and also a yield.

The price and yield have an inverse relationship meaning that when the price goes up, the yield comes down. When the yield is coming down, the instrument is trading at a premium compared to when it was issued.

An investor can buy Eurobonds while the primary auction is ongoing or later, at the secondary market, for those who were unable to participate in the primary auction.

READ: Nigeria’s Eurobond yield hit 12.8% as investors flee emerging markets

How to invest in Nigerian Eurobonds

The process of investing in Eurobonds in Nigeria is not any different from that of investing in local bonds. Both bonds can be bought from either the primary market at the initial offer level or at the secondary market for existing bonds.

All that is required is for the investor to complete the tender for the Federal Government of Nigeria or corporate bonds form, submit the tender through any of the authorized dealers and make the required payment when the bid is successful.

Basically, for banks, your account has to be funded with the desired currency. For instance, to buy a dollar-denominated Eurobond which is the conventional one issued in Nigeria, you have to fund your account with dollars, then send an instruction for the bond purchase.

READ: FG redeems $500 million Eurobond

Be mindful of the bond’s risk profile before investing

Eurobonds can either be corporate or government bonds. Corporate bonds may offer higher interest rates than government-issued Eurobonds but they also come with higher risk.

If you want to invest in Eurobonds, ensure that you weigh the risk characteristics of the bonds and set them against the interest rate to know if it is worth it. Most Eurobonds come with credit ratings, which serve as a measure of their quality and risk profile.

Usually, bonds with the highest quality credit ratings come with the lowest yields while bonds with lower credit ratings offer higher yields. The yield, in this sense, is a measure of the bond issuer’s creditworthiness meaning that the greater the credit risk on an investment, the higher the yield investors would demand to compensate for it.

Jaiz bank

READ: Investing in Nigerian Bonds – A Beginners Guide

How to obtain an FG Eurobond

When bonds are issued at the primary market, the issuance document contains a list of the banks or brokers that have been authorized to sell the bonds. The FGN issued bonds are purchased through the Primary Dealer Market Makers (PDMMs). These are banks appointed by the Debt Management Office (DMO), to act as authorized dealers of FGN bonds.

Can you fund a Eurobond with a naira account?

Not at the moment! You need a dollar account (domiciliary account) that is funded but your bank can easily guide you on how to obtain one.

Next is to fill out instruction documents after which the bank will send you a market price and the expected yield. The bank then debits your account for the purchase. Every six months or on the specified coupon dates, you will receive your coupon and at maturity, you will get your principal back if the issuer does not default. A coupon or coupon payment is the annual interest rate paid on a bond, expressed as a percentage of the face value and paid from the issue date until maturity.

READ: How to read stock market tables

Here is a simplified example of the process:

You walk into a branch of your bank and ask to purchase $100,000 worth of Eurobonds. Note that your domiciliary account should already be funded with the amount. You would be required to fill out and sign the letter of instruction which would then be sent to the bank’s treasury unit for processing. The treasury unit responds with the available Eurobond prices and requests you to confirm the purchase. When that is done, the treasury unit executes the deal and holds it in their custody.

You can also sell the bonds at the secondary market.

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Minimum investment as an individual

The minimum conventional investment tranche is $200,000, but a $100,000 worth of investment is also permissible. Amounts lower than this are however problematic because the secondary market trades in tranches of $200,000.

READ: Your “beard gang” is affecting the valuation of this global firm

Can people invest through mutual funds?

Basically, what mutual funds do is amass investors’ funds and buy Eurobonds in the secondary market. A mutual fund is just like a vehicle that helps you to buy bonds so that you are not faced with the issuer’s risk directly. Therefore, individuals or institutions can also buy Eurobonds through mutual funds.

Mutual funds make it possible for you to participate in bond-buying with less than the statutory amount since they operate by pooling resources together from a large number of investors.

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