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Financial Services

CBN freezes 11 bank accounts of companies, individual

The CBN has been clamping down on businesses and individuals with suspicious bank transactions.

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Wednesday announced that it got an interim order from the Federal High Court, Abuja division, to freeze 11 bank accounts of 5 companies and an individual for 45 days to enable it to conduct investigations into suspicious activities.

The order follows an exparte motion, dated March 12 and filed on March 16, seeking the mandatory order of the court to direct First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited, to freeze all transactions on the listed accounts and all other bank accounts of the defendants for 180 days pending the outcome of investigation and inquiry currently being conducted by the CBN.

READ: #EndSARS: Federal High Court orders CBN to unfreeze accounts of protesters

This disclosure is contained in documents posted by the apex bank on its website on Wednesday, April 7, 2021, and seen by Nairametrics.

According to the statement from the CBN who is the plaintiff, the listed names of the defendants/respondents include Albert Austin Ugochukwu with 2 bank accounts, Belfour Energy & Allied Services, Belfour Oil and Gas Limited with 3 bank accounts, Circle Flow Integrated Services, Kacynaus Reality Nigeria Limited with 3 bank accounts and Tasmara Integrated Services.

The court document also states that the order was given by the court upon reading the Affidavit in support of the Application, Affidavit of Urgency, Verifying Affidavit and Affidavit of Non-Multiplicity of action all deposed by an Assistant Manager of the CBN, Central Business District, Oluwatoyosi Suwebat Oladipo, together with an attached exhibit.

READ: How scammers use SIM cards to rob your bank accounts

The order from the Federal High Court partly reads, “An interim Order is made empowering the applicant to direct the Head Office of First City Monument Bank Ltd to freeze forthwith all transactions on the bank accounts listed on the motion paper for a period of 45 days only pending the outcome of investigation currently being conducted by the Central Bank of Nigeria.’’

The document also states that the order which was given by the Presiding Judge, A.R. Mohammed, was renewable on expiration but only on good reasons shown and any person affected by this order was entitled to approach the court to seek to set aside, discharge or have the order reviewed for good reasons, it said.

READ: Deadlock in SEC case as Oando appeals court ruling

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What you should know

  • The CBN has been clamping down on businesses and individuals with suspicious bank transactions especially for money laundering and illegal forex transactions in recent times.
  • Just recently, the Presidency, while confirming the arrest and detention of some bureau de change operators, said that they were being investigated for money laundering and facilitating money to terrorists.

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Chike Olisah is a graduate of accountancy with over 15 years working experience in the financial service sector. He has worked in research and marketing departments of three top commercial banks. Chike is a senior member of the Nairametrics Editorial Team. You may contact him via his email- [email protected]

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Corporate deals

Access Bank moves to acquire BancABC Botswana

The Nigerian bank would buy just over 78% of BancABC Botswana for an undisclosed cash amount of about 1.13 times the book value plus a two-year deferred payment.

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Access Bank , #EndSARS: Access Bank Debunks aiding military onslaught against Lekki protesters

According to a memo published today, Access Bank, Nigeria’s largest lender, has agreed to buy a majority stake in African Banking Corporation of Botswana for cash, only a month after buying a South African bank.

Stagflation and dollar shortages in Nigeria have frustrated industries and shrunk the lending sector, prompting Access Bank to extend across the African continent. Atlas Mara said in a statement on Monday that the Nigerian bank would buy just over 78% of BancABC Botswana for an undisclosed cash amount of about 1.13 times the book value plus a two-year deferred payment.

Access Bank now has a presence in ten African countries thanks to the agreement with ABC Holdings, a local subsidiary of Atlas Mara, a London-listed company. It should be completed by the end of the second quarter.

Herbert Wigwe, the Chief Executive Officer of Access Group, told the public that the company is focused on growth. “We remain committed to a focused and deliberate expansion strategy in Africa, which we believe will generate solid, long-term returns,” the bank said.

According to Access Bank, BancABC is Botswana’s fifth-largest bank, with a strong retail loan portfolio and plans to expand into corporate and small-to-medium-sized business lending. Nigerian lenders have been looking for new ways to increase profits in the face of slowing domestic inflation, falling government bond yields, and an increase in restructured loans as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March, Access Bank paid $60 million for a majority stake in South Africa’s Grobank, making it the first Nigerian bank to enter the country. It has also recently signed agreements in Zambia and Mozambique. Access Bank is restructuring into a holding firm to drive its international growth with more than $16 billion in reserves and an emphasis on corporate and retail banking.

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Business News

How API fintech startups are driving access to financial data across Africa – CEO, Mono

In an interview with Abdulhamid Hassan, CEO of Mono HQ, a fast-rising API fintech startup, we got to understand how their services are beneficial.

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In recent times, we have seen APIs grow from just a curious term among tech enthusiasts to become a core to many businesses. API’s have been highly valuable to developers and businesses because it acts as a communication channel between two services.

In Nigeria, API fintech startups have made a tremendous impact in the fintech space with the rise of API startups like Mono, Okra, and Onepipe that are building Africa’s API infrastructure for institutions and third-party companies for different purposes. These startups have garnered investors in a very short period of operation.

Why API startups?

An API makes it easier to integrate applications and services as it facilitates communication between them. APIs allow businesses to create ecosystems around their operations. Today, they are responsible for connecting people and systems thereby enabling the creation of a better user experience by simplifying access to information.

For example, instead of building its own mapping and payment services, Uber was able to leverage public APIs like Google Maps and a payment gateway and then deliver them in a mobile application that ended up changing the entire transportation industry across the globe.

Why open banking is important

Open banking is a banking practice that provides third-party financial service providers open access to consumer banking, transactions, and other financial data from banks and non-bank financial institutions through the use of application programming interfaces (APIs).

Since fintech startups are fundamentally focused on providing financial solutions, they need access to financial data to continually create new solutions and also prove their value to prospective users. Open Banking provides the opportunity in the form of convenient access to financial data and services for them to scale up their customer base and products.

However, open banking also poses security threats such as data breaches due to poor security, the potential for a malicious third-party app to clean out a customer’s account, or insider threats from financial institutions that have become relatively widespread as more data becomes interconnected.

In an interview with Abdulhamid Hassan, CEO of Mono HQ, a fast-rising API fintech startup, we got to understand what they do and how their services are beneficial.

What was the inspiration for founding your startup?

The inspiration behind founding Mono came in a conversation between myself and Prakhar. We had just realized how difficult it was to find a service that could put all our financial accounts in one place so we could see them at the same time. There’s nothing quite like relating directly to a problem because it means you have first-hand knowledge of the difficulty it presents. We decided to build an app that could power account linking, and that’s how we walked into founding Mono.

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What does Mono do and what sets you apart from other fintech startups?

Mono builds APIs and infrastructure that makes it easy for developers and businesses to create better experiences for their users. Our APIs act as a conduit to enable these businesses to access data and financial accounts. We don’t think of ourselves as a fintech startup, we’re more a data company that makes innovation possible. Today, it’s mostly fintech companies that we support with our user identity/account verification, statement collection, and direct debit services. Tomorrow, it could be Edtech or health tech.

What problems are you trying to solve in Nigeria and Africa?

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Today, in Nigeria, there are lots of companies with products that require their customers’ financial data to function. Banks don’t have public APIs for businesses and developers to consume. Without this information, services that provide value to customers cannot be delivered optimally. But now, through our APIs, people are able to securely link their financial accounts, share their bank data like statements, transactions, and balances in seconds with other businesses.

Businesses are also able to verify the identity and account information of their users and more. With this infrastructure and these insights, businesses can provide better services and experiences for their customers, mitigate identity fraud, and even create new products off the back of these possibilities.

So, we’re solving the problem of inaccessibility to data and financial accounts, and enabling businesses to innovate and build for their customers.

Do you believe Nigeria is truly ready to adopt an open banking system?

We believe that while Open Banking is a fairly new financial practice in Nigeria, its adoption is spreading rapidly. This innovation can grow to make the adoption necessary, rather than something the financial system in the country has to be ready for.

What would be the role of API companies such as yourself in encouraging open banking in Nigeria?

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Apart from powering more businesses in the African ecosystem to create endless possibilities and personalized experiences for the everyday user, our role is also to be an example of upheld data and privacy ethics.

What are your plans for expanding into other African markets?

Mono started out in Nigeria, but our mission is to power the internet economy in Africa. Our expansion plans see us moving into Ghana and Kenya, first to understand each market and the ways that Mono’s services can solve their problems, and then establish ourselves there.

Bottom line

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Since APIs are an effective way to enable the digital transformation of businesses, the ability for businesses to innovate and become early adopters of API services is the key to success and this will allow companies to move into new markets that they may never have considered.

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