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Applause As Zenith Rewards Tech Fair 2.0 Hackathon Finalists with N53m

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A total sum of N53 million in prize money was won at the end of a keenly contested hackathon session at the Second Edition of the Zenith Tech Fair, themed “Future Forward 2.0”, which was held on Wednesday, November 23, 2022, at the Eko Convention Centre, Eko Hotels & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The prize money was shared among eleven finalists who emerged from the over 500 contestants that took part in the hackathon, with Ecotutu, a cleantech company making cooling affordable and accessible for businesses, especially in the agricultural sector, emerging as the overall winner and taking home the grand prize of N20 million. This is in addition to a mentorship programme with Seedstars, a company dedicated to implementing high-quality capacity-building programmes for entrepreneurs in emerging markets.

The first runner-up, Foris Labs, an app-based platform that allows students to conduct science experiments individually and in groups interactively via their mobile phones, won N15 million and a mentorship programme with Seedstars, while the second runner-up, Finva, a start-up which helps creditors offer credits at low risk, won N10 million as well as a mentorship programme with Seedstars. Other finalists who took home N1million each include Sanwo, Itinu -Ev, Eduvacity, Green Bii, Zion Robotics, Sono Care, Base, and I grow Africa.

Speaking during the presentation of the prize monies, the Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, congratulated all the finalists for coming this far in the competition. He reiterated the bank’s readiness to provide all that is necessary to make the budding entrepreneurs succeed. According to him, “all finalists would be enlisted into our incubation lab for grooming and mentorship. Our expectation is that we are going to scale and grow them just like the zenith brand. So, looking at what we have gone through, I can tell you that so much iron has been loaded on fire. The only thing left is to activate the digital talents, tech skills and entrepreneurship that would culminate in a new digital economy for Nigeria”.

Described as a huge success by participants, the two-day Tech Fair featured presentations on the leading technological innovations that cut across different aspects of life, such as Artificial Intelligence, Computing, Machine Learning, Blockchain, Robotics, Big Data, FinTech, Augmented Reality, Data Analytics, 5G and Communication Technologies, with the keynote address, “The Future of Banking: Digital Transformation Journey”, delivered by Brett King, the renowned futurist, bestselling author, award-winning speaker, Founder of Moven and Author of Bank 4.0.

The event also featured a goodwill message by Jim Ovia, CFR, Founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank and opening remarks by Ebenezer Onyeagwu, Group Managing Director of Zenith Bank Plc and Chairman of Body of Banks’ CEOs, Nigeria. Other eminent IT practitioners from top global brands who also made presentations include; Tarik Alatovic, Senior Partner, McKinsey; Juliet Ehimuan, West Africa Director, Google; Ola Williams, Country Manager, Microsoft Inc.; Andrew Uaboi, Vice President/Head, Visa West Africa; Mrs Rakiya Mohammed, Director of Information Technology, CBN; Chris Lu, Managing Director, Huawei Technologies Nigeria, and Dame (Dr.) Adaora Umeoji, OON, Deputy Managing Director of Zenith Bank Plc, amongst others.

The fair featured three panel sessions. The first panel, which examined “The future of payments: what next and how can we get there”, had Prof. Yinka David West of Lagos Business School as the host, with four discussants, including Agada Apochi, Managing Director, UPSL; Olu Akanmu, Managing Director, Opay; Premier Oiwoh, Managing Director, NIBBS; and Kari Tukur, V/P & Head of Products East/West Africa, MasterCard.

The second panel explored the theme “What are the main challenges of digital transformation in the financial industry? How do we solve them?”. It was hosted by Brett King and had four discussants, including Tosin Eniolorunda, Managing Director, TeamApt; Obi Emetarom, Managing Director, Appzone; Dr. Babatunde Obrimah, COO, FintechNGR; and Olugbenga Agboola, Founder/CEO, Flutterwave.

The third panel discussion, titled “Driving the global trade revolution with technology: current transformation trends”, was hosted by Samuel Eze, Founder/CEO, Ourpass, and had five discussants, including Mike Ogbalu III, Managing Director, PAPSS; Akeem Lawal, Divisional CEO, Interswitch; Massimiliano Spalazzi, Country Manager, Jumia; and Dr. Ozoemena Nnaji, Director of Trade & Exchange, CBN.

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ALAT Launches Campaign to Promote Stronger Savings, Investment Culture

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ALAT by Wema, Nigeria’s leading digital bank, has launched a campaign aimed at encouraging Nigerians to imbibe a healthy savings and investment culture. This will help them build a strong financial base in the new year.
The bank, in a statement, encouraged both existing and new customers to take advantage of its numerous savings offerings to grow their finances and create wealth by cultivating a strong culture of regular savings and investment.
According to Morolake Philip-Ladipo, Acting Head, Brand and Marketing Communication at Wema Bank, there are nine savings services on ALAT that customers can choose from, noting that they can earn up to 10% interest.
“As people resume their various activities after the festive season, the early weeks of the year are often associated with a rise in spending. There are nine savings plans on ALAT that customers can choose from, to ramp up their savings and investment. Naturally, it is difficult for people to save money because there isn’t going to be sufficient money to keep after spending. However, there is a more significant gain when people cultivate the discipline of making regular savings and investment a lifestyle,” she said.
For customers who would like to spend, the Spend and Save feature is the most convenient option. Customers can automatically save a percentage of the transaction amount on ALAT and earn interest on their savings. They determine the specific transaction type and duration when a withdrawal can be made.
Other savings and investment products include Stash, Flexi Goal, Spend and Save, Fixed Goal, Lock Up Savings, Dollar Plan, Investment, and Rotating Savings.
Philip-Ladipo added that the various savings features available were designed to meet the preferences and needs of everyone who desires to be intentional about their savings and investment culture.

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Union Bank Reiterates Commitment to Support Small Businesses

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Leading financial institution, Union Bank of Nigeria, has reiterated their support for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in the country to drive increased growth and development. This commitment was made during the recently held ‘Top 100 Fastest Growing SMEs in Nigeria’ conference hosted by Business Day newspaper.

The event themed ‘How SMEs can thrive in an age of volatility’ was well attended by various stakeholders in the SME sector, including entrepreneurs, industry experts, start-ups, and financiers. The event had different panel sessions to discuss the multiple problems facing SMEs in Nigeria.

Speaking on the Funding for SMEs panel, Ayokunnumi Abraham, Head, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) Products & Segments Union Bank, said SMEs need to pay attention to capacity building and keeping proper financial records. According to him:
“SMEs must focus on building capacity and developing the necessary skills to increase their expertise if they hope to succeed in this volatile age. SMEs also need to embrace technology and digital tools as an enabler for business growth while ensuring their books and records are organised if they hope to attract funding from the right financial partner.”

Business Day newspaper presented Union Bank with The SME Financier of the Year award in Nigeria at the awards ceremony held that same evening in recognition of the bank’s efforts to support and promote the growth of the SME sector in the country.

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Emefiele Shuns Reps’ Summons As Banks Ration New Notes

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An ad hoc committee set up by the House of Representatives to investigate the scarcity of the new naira at commercial banks on Wednesday has frowned at the failure of the management staff of the Central Bank of Nigeria to appear before it on Thursday just as the House has insisted on January 31 deadline set for the exchange of the old notes with the new ones

This came barely two months after the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, failed to appear before the House over issues relating to the naira redesign.

The House had on Tuesday called on President Muhammadu Buhari over the brewing crisis occasioned by the January 31 deadline.

Apart from asking the CBN to extend the window for swapping the old notes with the newly redesigned one by six months, the House had invited the banks to a meeting on Wednesday over the scarcity of new naira notes.

The managing directors/chief executive officers of the banks, under the auspices of the Bankers’ Committee, were to meet with an ad hoc committee of the House to be chaired by the Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa.

On Wednesday, the CBN failed to appear before the committee.

However, Ado-Doguwa, at the inaugural investigative hearing of the committee, stated, “For the purposes of clarification, I want to say without any fear of contradiction, that the parliament is always an institution that represents the Nigerian people. For an invitation to any government employee, like it is the case here with the CBN, the governor of the CBN, his directors, deputy directors, all departmental heads, I believe, are employees of the Nigerian people; and when there is a kind of summons from the institution of the parliament like this, we expect every up-and-doing employee to only respect that invitation.”

“On this note, I would like to convey to this committee and members of the public and the press here with us that we have conceded to allow the CBN officials to come tomorrow by 1pm, so that we would engage them. And immediately after the engagement with them, we would engage the bank operators.”

Meanwhile, there was palpable discontent among bank customers in Lagos on Wednesday after some commercial banks shut down their Automated Teller Machines, ostensibly due to paucity or unavailability of new naira notes.

The development came in the wake of threats by the Central Bank of Nigeria that it would sanction any bank that dispensed old naira notes on its Automated Teller Machines.

When our correspondent visited four banks — Zenith Bank, United Bank for Africa, Access Bank and Stanbic IBTC along Iju road in the Ogba area of Lagos State, it was observed the bank ATMs were neither dispensing the new naira notes nor the old ones.

Meanwhile, a myriad of disgruntled customers were seen lamenting the frustration of not being able to withdraw cash from any of the ATMs in the area.

Our correspondent proceeded to visit Zenith Bank, Access and UBA along Ogunnusi road in the Ojodu axis of the state. The story was no different as a small crowd of frustrated customers was seen lamenting their inability to withdraw cash.

While some of the banks cited technical difficulties for their inability to dispense money via the machines, others said their ATMs had developed faults and could not temporarily dispense cash.

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