Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has advised Nigerian banks to support the media and aviation sectors through loan disbursements.
This is in view of the lingering Coronavirus pandemic which has wrought major economic havoc across different sectors, leading to revenue declines and multiple job losses.
In a series of tweets posted on Tuesday night via CBN’s official Twitter handle, it was disclosed that Emefiele asked the banks to help avert the spate of job losses already being recorded amongst journalists and aviation workers.
In order to avoid massive job loses in the media industry due to the lingering pandemic, Gov. Godwin Emefiele urges banks to support the media industry.
— Central Bank of Nigeria (@cenbank) August 25, 2020
Understanding COVID-19’s devastating impact on the media industry
The media and aviation sectors are among the hardest hit by the pandemic. An earlier report by Nairametrics uncovered how most print media organisations have had to slash salaries by 50% whilst laying off many staff, even as the current pandemic-induced economic climate continues to make it harder to operate.
As you may well know, the media industry mostly relies on advertising revenue to thrive. However, inasmuch as advertising is critical for most companies and organisations, they tend to drastically cut down on their advertising budgets during a recession. Unfortunately, Nigeria is in a recession, no thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the pandemic grounded planes and dried up airlines’ revenues
Earlier this month, Nigeria’s Air Peace announced that it had sacked about 70 of its pilots and reduced staff salaries by as much as 40%. The sad decision was, of course, taken to protect the company against the adverse effects of COVID-19.
In a similar development, the management of Bristow Helicopters Limited also announced the sack of about 100 pilots and engineers. Bristow’s announcement came barely 24 hours after Air Peace’s announcement.
Bristow Helicopters, which provides auxiliary services to the oil and gas industry, also blamed COVID-19 for the decision to lay off the pilots.
For more than two months, local and international flights were suspended, as planes were grounded in a bid to curtail the spread of the deadly Coronavirus. This move, though necessary, understandably affected airlines’ revenues; hence the layoffs.
Local flights only just resumed earlier this month, with international flights expected to follow suit later this week.
Now, as planes resume flights, CBN’s Emefiele wants banks to do all that they can to avail airlines the financial support they need to bounce back.
#CBN Gov.. Mr. Godwin Emefiele urges banks to do all in their power to support the aviation industry in Nigeria.
— Central Bank of Nigeria (@cenbank) August 25, 2020
Lending amidst the uncertainties
Nigeria’s apex bank has always encouraged banks to lend. In late 2019, it carried out an upward review of the Loan to Deposit Ratio (LDR) from 60% to 65%, and directed Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) to comply.
Interestingly, the CBN’s stance on loans has been yielding results. Last week, Nairametrics reported that the value of loans given by banks to the private sector increased from N16.251 trillion in June 2019 to N18.632 trillion as at the end of May 2020. This represents a 21.53% (or N3.5 trillion) increase within a 1-year period.
Despite the progress, banks are being careful about who they lend to and how they lend. This is because they must guard against any possiblity of bad/non-performing loans.
Speaking of non-performing loans, CBN Deputy Governor, Kingsley Obiora, while commenting on the recent increase in banks’ lending to the private sector, also noted that “non-performing loans (NPLs) decreased to 6.4% at the end of June 2020, compared to 9.4% in the corresponding period of 2019, reflecting recoveries, write-offs and disposals.”
It should be noted that the CBN had recently averted major bad loans by encouraging banks to restructure as much as 41% of their loans to customers. Nairametrics quoted Governor Emefiele, who explained why this became imperative.
“If the CBN did not ask the banks to grant these forbearances to their customers, the loans will go bad immediately by our prudential ratios,” he said at the end of last month’s MPC meeting.
Interest rates will remain low until the end of H1 2021 – Meristem Securities
Meristem Securities has argued that interest rates will remain low until, at least, the end of H1 2021.
Meristem Securities has asserted that interest rates will remain low until, at least, the end of H1 2021.
This statement was made at the recently held webinar on Global Economy and Outlook, which the company themed: Bracing for a Different Future.
Although the company acknowledged that there is mounting pressure for upward movement in yields from several stakeholders, it appears the company concurs nothing concrete is in sight.
This line of reasoning seems to have influenced their decision to advise investors to move away from Treasury instruments.
What they are saying
Meristem advises that:
- “Buy and hold strategy investors seeking to generate above average returns should move away from risk free Treasury instruments and focus on investment grade commercial papers and bonds which satisfy investment objectives.”
- “Active traders with higher risk appetite are advised to focus on high-yield short duration instruments, which would be re-invested into a higher yield environment should rate reversals occur.”
The advice regarding shunning Treasury instruments appears to be in order, considering that treasury bill rate has been declining, with the latest figure — November 2020 — 0.03% as per the CBN monthly interest rate data.
Further checks from the Debt Management Office website, indicates that the latest figures for Eurobonds and Diaspora bond fall short of the fixed yield at issue for all the different categories of bonds in issue.
What you should know
Latest figures from the CBN’s monthly interest rate indicate that:
- Treasury bill rate has been on a steady decline for six months, down to 0.03% since the last rise (2.47%) in May 2020.
- Fixed deposit rates (one, three, six and twelve months) have also been declining – the latest figures for these indicate that in November 2020, one-month deposit rate was 1.92%, 2.9% for three months, 2.84% for six months, and 4.89% for 12 months.
- Compared with the corresponding period in 2019, the figures indicate that these rates fell by 75%, 66%, 71% and 49% respectively.
CBN issues framework for QR payments
CBN has issued a framework that would guide Quick response (QR) code payments in Nigeria.
The Central Bank of Nigeria has issued the framework that would guide Quick Response (QR) Code Payments in Nigeria.
This is a proactive move by the Apex bank towards ensuring the safety and stability of the Nigerian Financial System, as well as promoting the use and adoption of electronic payments and foster innovation in the payments system.
Quick Response (QR) Codes are matrix barcodes representing information presented as square grids, made up of black squares against a contrasting background that can be scanned by an imaging device, processed and transmitted by appropriate technology.
The codes are used to present, capture and transmit payments information across payments infrastructure and further enable the mobile channel to facilitate payments and present another avenue for promoting electronic payments for micro and small enterprises.
What you should know
- Quick Response (QR) codes are two-dimensional bar codes. QR code payments allow merchants to receive payments from customers simply by scanning generated QR codes using a smartphone camera. The QR code payments carry the purchase transaction information to the mobile device of the buyer/customer.
- Making payments via QR codes is very secure. It is because the QR code is nothing but just a tool that is used to exchange information. Any data which is transferred via QR codes is encrypted, thus making the payment secure.
- The Participants in QR Code Payment in Nigeria include Merchants, Customers, Issuers (Banks, MMOs and Other Financial Institutions), Acquirers (Banks, MMOs and Other Financial Institutions) and Payments Service Providers.
- QR payments are increasingly becoming a popular means of payments in Nigeria, and some industry players would see the framework as a perfect way of regulating the sector.
- QR codes are capable of storing lots of data. But no matter how much they contain, when scanned, the QR code should allow the user to access information instantly. It can be used for payments, sharing contacts and Wi-Fi passwords and lots more.
- The popular and common argument is that since POS machines are expensive, cheaper options such as QR scanners should be pushed forward to local traders.
CBN unveils framework for regulatory sandbox operations
CBN has issued a regulatory Sandbox framework towards engaging with the operators in the Fintech space.
The Central Bank of Nigeria has taken proactive steps towards ensuring more flexible ways of engaging with operators in the payment solutions/fintech space, in a bid to tacitly regulate how operators churn out their new products and services.
To this end, CBN has introduced Regulatory Sandbox which is a formal process for firms to carry out live tests of new, innovative products, services, delivery channels, or business models in a controlled environment, with regulatory oversight, subject to appropriate conditions and safeguards.
It is expected that the CBN would stay abreast of innovations while promoting a safe, reliable and efficient Payments System to foster innovation, without compromising the delivery of its mandate.
What you should know
- A regulatory sandbox is a framework set up by a regulator that allows FinTech start-ups and other innovators to conduct live experiments in a controlled environment under a regulator’s supervision. It encourages innovation that can improve the design and delivery of payment services.
- No doubt, regulations around Fintech are still emerging and developing, there is still a high entry barrier for new entrants and it is expected that Sandboxes would present them with a safe testing environment and ease regulatory onboarding.
- Sandbox is quite suited for new products, services or solutions that are either not contemplated under the prevailing laws and regulations, or do not precisely align with existing regulations.
- Sandbox is intended to promote effective competition, embrace new technology, encourage financial inclusion and improve customer experience, with a view to engendering public confidence in the financial system.
- The framework provides guidance on the establishment, the applicable rules and operations of a Regulatory Sandbox for the Nigerian Payments System, as well as providing standards for the operations of a Regulatory Sandbox, prescribes the processes and procedures for analysing, collecting, updating, integrating, and storing consumer data and information.