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Financial Services

Despite CRR debits, Nigerian Banks record higher net interest income

Banks are recording higher net interest income, despite the CBN’s frequent CRR debits chalking off significant amounts of their cash.

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Some of the top banks in Nigeria posted a total net interest income of N403 billion in the third quarter of 2020 compared to N369.5 billion in the same period in 2019.

In the first 9 months to date, the banks have reported a combined net interest income of N1.2 trillion compared to N1.1 trillion same period last year.

READ: Aviation: Nigerian ground handling firms count revenue losses due to pandemic-induced plunge

Nairametrics collated these figures from the following banks, FBNH, UBA, GT Bank, Access Bank, Zenith Bank, Fidelity Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Sterling Bank, and Union Bank. The banks recently released their third-quarter interim results.

Deposit money banks have complained bitterly over the central bank’s frequent CRR debits chalking off significant amounts of cash that they could have earned on.

READ: Union Bank releases Q1 2020 result, records 14% profit increase

A Nairametrics report indicates banks suffered CRR debits of over N1.9 trillion in the second quarter of 2020, taking the total amount of customer deposits held by the CBN at about N6.5 trillion.

The figure is likely higher now as more CRR debits have occurred in the third quarter of the year. Nairametrics reported banks were debited N226 billion CRR debit in a recent update provided by reliable sources.

However, as the above report indicates, the banks still earned more this year compared to 2019. Where banks may have suffered dips is in net interest margin, a measure of the percentage of income banks earn after netting off the cost of funds.

READ: Nigerian Banks issue N3.3 trillion in new loans in June 2020

However, this has also been largely mitigated by low deposit rates even as banks maintain most of their lending rates.

Despite the rise in net interest income for the collection of banks under our review, some banks individually faired worse in 2020 compared to 2019. FBNH, Stanbic IBTC, and Access Bank all recorded lower net interest income in the first 9 months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Significant gains over the prior year were however recorded with the other banks.

READ: Access Bank Plc posts N102.3 billion profit in 9M 2020, up by 15.7% YoY

What is driving Margins

Banks are recording higher net interest income largely because interest rates on deposits are at near-record lows.

This drive down in the cost of funds helps boost the income of banks because they are also yet to significantly drop their lending rates.

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In the first 9 months of the year, the banks reported total loans and advances of N1.6 trillion, 14% higher than the N1.4 trillion reported at the end of 2019.

READ: FBN Holdings Plc posts Profit of N21.9 billion in Q3 2020

Banks have also reported generally improved pre-tax earnings, posting a combined N737 billion in the first 9 months of 20120 compared to N723 billion in the same period last year.

The better than expected results has triggered a boost to their share price. Banks have also seen their share price rally in recent weeks as investors finally recognize their low valuations amidst strong earnings.

The Banking sector index is up 14.72% year to date and only fell last week after investors embarked on cashing out their profits.

Explore Data on the Nairametrics Research Website

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Currencies

“Don’t deposit more than $5k monthly,” banks inform customers

Reports reaching Nairametrics indicate some commercial banks have started sending new transfer limits to their customers.

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Reports reaching Nairametrics indicate some commercial banks have started sending new transfer limits to their customers.

Emails sent to some customers that were shared with Nairametrics reveal banks are informing customers that they can only deposit $5,000 in cash into their accounts monthly. They also advised the customers to transfer electronically instead of cash deposits. One of the banks also indicated that cash deposits are no longer allowed for some account holders.

“There is a $5,000 monthly cash deposit limit. We encourage you to make more deposits via electronic transfers. Cash funded transfers to beneficiaries with accounts in other banks in Nigeria are no longer allowed. There will be no restriction to the frequency or value of transactions for accounts funded through inflows but supporting documents are required before payments are processed. Cash deposits are no longer allowed for Wealth Management Investments.”

Some of these rules are actually not new as they contain forex transaction guidelines issued by the central bank last year as part of its efforts to curtail demand for forex and reduce the utilization of the banking system to facilitate black market dealing in forex.

What this means

  • You cannot deposit more than $5,000 cash monthly (cumulative) into your bank domiciliary accounts.
  • However, you can deposit more than this if it is an electronic transfer. This is a lot more difficult to achieve for retail buyers of forex and the exchange rate is often higher.
  • You are also required to provide supporting documents backing the inflow of dollars into your account especially if the transfers are from one personal account to another.

Last week, the CBN announced it was indefinitely extending its Naira 4-dollar scheme for diaspora remittances which was introduced in March, suggesting the program may have achieved success by its standards.

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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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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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