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More Stringent Measures for LGs as Daily Withdrawal Pegged at N.5m from June

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The Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit has said no cash withdrawal exceeding N500,000 per day could be made from any local government account with effect from June 1, 2019, noting that any other transaction must be done through valid cheques or electronic funds transfer.

The agency also promised sanctions for any commercial bank which allowed transactions from any local government account without monies first reaching the LG account.

The NFIU in an emailed statement by its acting Chief Media Analyst, Ahmed Dikko, on Monday, directed all financial institutions, relevant stakeholders, public servants and the public to ensure full compliance with the provisions of the guidelines which had been submitted to financial institutions and relevant enforcement agencies.

It stated that the directive was sequel to findings which indicated that cash withdrawals and transactions of the State and Joint Local Government Accounts posed the “biggest corruption, money laundering and security threats at the grassroots levels and to the entire financial system and the country as a whole.”

The anti-graft agency further explained that the measures were necessitated by the threats of isolation of the Nigerian financial system by other international financial systems on account of the deficiencies in the nation’s anti- money laundering and counter-terrorism financing implementation.

The NFIU explained that it would not allow the system to suffer the deliberate and expensive infractions or violations by public officials and private business interests.

It said, “Henceforth, all errant individuals and companies will be allowed to face direct international and locally targeted sanctions, in order not to allow any negative consequences to fall on the entire country.

“To be precise, with effect from 1st June, any bank that allows any transaction from any local government account without monies first reaching a particular local government account will be sanctioned 100 per cent both locally and internationally.”

“In addition, a provision is also made to the effect that there shall be no cash withdrawal from any local government for a cumulative amount exceeding N500, 000 per day. Any other transaction must be done through valid cheques or electronic funds transfer.”

The agency  further disclosed that the complete guidelines had been released to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria; the Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; the Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission and Chief Executive Officers of all banks and other financial institutions.

“Any state government that is willing to seek any expert economic advice in the unlikely event of these guidelines constituting an inconvenience to the management of the state can work with the NFIU or CBN,” the statement added.

The Chairman, Human Resource Development Centre, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, described the initiative as right step in the right direction, saying it would curb free flow of money and financial crimes.

He added that it would promote better accountability and forestall a situation where state governors hijack local government accounts.

Suraju said, “This will strongly encourage and provide all the necessary support for the anti-corruption agencies and the NFIU in this regard. The CBN, the ICPC and the EFCC must also rise up to this challenge by ensuring that they collaborate with and support the NFIU in achieving this.

“Not only the liable local government officials should be investigated and prosecuted; the bank concerned should also not only be fined but also prosecuted accordingly.

“If this is effectively enforced, it will allow for the operations of the local government account by local government officials. And also to track where governors are usurping the powers of the local government chairmen.”

But the Executive Chairman, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Mr Debo Adeniran, said the N500,000 daily cash withdrawal threshold might be too low for the operations of LGAs.

He advocated that it be moved up to about N2.5m.

“I think the cash withdrawal limit should be moved up to about N2.5m because there are occasions when for network reasons some payments have to be made.

“Even we, in the civil society organisation, sometimes we want to pay honorarium or transport support for those who attend our programmes and sometimes, we have more than 1,000 people and we want to pay each participant N1, 000. We cannot do transfer in all the cases because it will be cumbersome.

“So, N500,000 is too little for local governments. For individuals, that is the limit. For a local government, I think it should be more than that.”

On its part, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, said the initiative should not be limited to the LGAs but should be extended to the state and federal levels.

SERAP’s Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oludare, said, “The NFIU directive though welcome as an anti-corruption strategy is somewhat misplaced in the light of grand corruption at the state and federal levels.

“Corruption and attendant money laundering is better curbed at not only the local government but also all levels of government by the abolishment of security votes.”

The Punch

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With Giants Campaign, FirstBank is Truly Woven into the Fabric of Society

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The ‘Giant in you’ campaign of the FirstBank has again confirmed the common expression that ‘apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’ given the history of the financial brand and its legendary relevance to the growth of enterprises, within and outside Nigeria. 

In its usual creative conjecture, 13O-year-old FirstBank, has hit the airwaves and other media outlets with various visuals to articulate its new campaign ‘The Giant in You’. Breaking down the central message, ‘there is a giant in you’ the campaign stylishly reminds the bank customer that ‘FirstBank Puts You First so you can’ before giving the match order, ‘Live the Giant-Life.

For a bank that settles for the big ‘elephant’, as logo and has remained strong for 130 years, worlds like giant, tall and strides, used in the various visuals are simply validations of its robustness, endurance, doggedness and tall ambition. As part of the ways to convey the bank’s message to its array of patrons, SO&U, the creative agency behind the campaign cleverly selected its cast and buildings, including FirstBank’s corporate headquarters, to reflect the bigness, the tallness and the boldness of the 130-year-old financial institution to rule the world as far as banking and business support are concerned.

Unraveling the ‘Giant’ strides…

Among other reasons, the new campaign must have been conceptualized to position FirstBank as a ‘giant’ and ‘future-ready’ institution that is dependable, innovative and proactive in supporting its customers and stakeholders win in the race to the future and be in a position to take advantage of the opportunities and possibilities of that emerging future.

Driven by the conviction that  consumers want to turn their big dreams into giant successes, the new campaign reminds the consumer that in today’s world of constant disruptions and integrated experiences, the customer needs a strong, stable and supportive partner, with the appropriate platforms, innovative solutions and networks to not only support their aspirations but also be responsive and adaptive enough to anticipate their needs and empower them to success.

Looking through the visuals and the television commercial, it’s easy to conclude that the campaign narrative is not about the brand but the customer. For instance, the creative path illustrates the world as it moves and changes at lightning speed, the customer is reminded that just like the world, everything within it is also changing, from economies to businesses and even opportunities.

“We recognise that to be in sync with the world will require a forward thinking and future ready mindset …and we have created the atmosphere, products and services to help our customers,” the bank stated.

To underscore ‘the big idea’ and the ‘bringing out the Giant in you’ theme, key visuals speak to the essence of the campaign and are accompanied with long and straight legs in a demonstrative form to take the purported giant step. Here the messages are passed under the following; ready to take giant strides?, strides into the future, let’s take giant strides together, stand tall, stand out, think giant solutions, among others.

Facts and figures…

 Like Coca-Cola, the world number one brand, one other thing that has consistently worked for the FirstBank brand is that the promoters have never, for once allowed complacency to set in. The implication of this is that the bank is not only the oldest, but also one of the most digitally compliant banks.  Currently, First Bank stands tall via First Bank digital solutions, employs market-leading digital platforms and solution driven products and services. Besides, the use of AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) by the bank enables the financial brand to initiate 85 percent of its transactions via digital platforms leading to quick responses to customers’ needs and satisfaction. In this regard, FirstBank has been recognised by Interswitch as the first financial institution in Nigeria to achieve 100 million sustained monthly transactions in electronic payment and it has hit N1 trillion transactions through the FirstMonie Agent network.

Speaking during the unveiling of the new thematic brand campaign, Head, Brand and Stakeholder management at FirstBank, Yinka Ijabiyi, reiterated that FirstBank came up with the new campaign because of its belief that there is a ‘giant’ in every customer, every employee and every stakeholder. He said, “This campaign was informed by our belief that there is ‘giant’ in every stakeholder a giant dream, a giant possibility, a giant idea, a giant life and a giant future waiting to be birthed. Our commitment is therefore to provide all necessary business support, financial know-how and platforms to bring out the giant in every customer,”

Ijabiyi further pointed out that the campaign was conceptualised by the bank in a bid to show customers in its 130 years, that it has been supporting and creating giants and that it has no plan to stop anytime soon. He said the bank, in its celebration of its 130 years in business, came up with a campaign that speaks to the business essence of its brand which is making giants of its customers. “We have always done it and the fact we have been around for such a long time means good to everybody as we have been supporting businesses, individuals and government in those years. “We are making giants and there is no business that interacts with us that does not see the benefits in their business. We are making giants in our customers and we will not stop.

“We are the partner with tailored solutions for every customer, employee, and stakeholder. We have what it takes to turn dreams into giant successes. FirstBank’s services are designed to help customers “giant-size” their dreams, offering businesses the platforms and solutions needed to grow, innovate, and achieve remarkable success.” Ijabiyi added that the array of products, solutions and services offered by FirstBank cannot be compared with any financial services in Nigeria.

For its customers, the bank said “We would enable, inspire and support you with our world of financial services to help you to giant-size your dreams and live your best life”. It also said it “would give businesses and business owners the right platforms and solutions they need to grow, initiate and execute bold ideas.

Meanwhile, the creative agency behind the campaign has hinted to the media that the unveiled materials were mere ‘tip of the iceberg’ as efforts are ongoing to domesticate the same campaign in local languages to connect with customers across the major ethnic groups in Nigeria.

A peep into the past…

 When the promoters said First Bank was “truly the first, many grudgingly agreed. But deep inside its competitors – the possible grudging camp – is the truth regarding the extreme distance the bank has given others in performance and people relevance of its operations! They knew the bank was not bluffing. Not only has it rediscovered itself, but the ability to shed its ancient mindset in terms of operations and blend with modern trends in banking have left many agreeing that perhaps, the saying that the older the wine the better it gets in taste actually applies to FirstBank. To this end, it’s not by accident that First Bank has produced at least two former governors of the CBN and a Finance Minister, including Chief Joseph Sanusi and the current Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

Perhaps the current campaign is an offshoot of a story-telling Television Commercial, by the bank to reflect the beginning of modern banking and how the bank has consistently grown with Nigeria’s enterprises through partnership and innovation.

The referenced TVC says it all: A combination of historical renaissance and quite prescient validation of the innovation that usually drives its bewitching communicational ads. From the groundnut pyramids of the north, which was the symbol of the regions commercial edge and the cocoa bean mountains of Western Nigeria to the rubber plantations of the East and Mid-eastern region, First Bank has applied its new campaign to remind its decades-old patrons, customers, and even competitors, that the beat has refused to abate.

Throughout the campaign, FirstBank subtly registers itself in the minds of the banking public that it’s entirely Nigerian – past, present, and the future. The well-crafted historical simulation captures how FirstBank opened its first branch in Lagos in 1894 and started helping merchandise and local traders to grow their businesses. The excitement and enthusiasm on the faces of the bank’s early customers after getting their cash books from the Lagos office say it all. Like someone who has gotten a glimpse of what the future holds with banking, the customers express surprises and happiness. The commercial captures the mood and goes back in memory lane on how the bank has helped many people succeed in their ventures. Subtly, the narrator takes viewers to Kano and reveals how the then richest men in the commercial city were making their deposit of 20 bags of Silver in an atmosphere that looks like the first operational day of the bank.

Perhaps the beauty of the commercial lies more in the way it strikes a balance between the ancient and the modern days through setting and swapping of background colours. This was cleverly explored in referencing the way the bank transformed into an online haven, driven by technology. While reminding the patrons of the bank’s transformation and technological advancement, the narrator is quick to talk about the expansion of the bank beyond the shores of Nigeria to the West-African region and beyond. The TVC also positions FirstBank as a socially responsible brand by touching on various initiatives it has embarked on. Specifically, First Bank’s contribution to Sports through its support for football and athletics is captured very well.

The ‘Giant in You’ is another chapter as the bank begins a fresh journey after operating for 130 years.

Culled from ThisDay

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Unity Bank Splashes N4m on Customers in Cashtoken Rewards Promo

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Unity Bank customers have claimed over N4 million in cash rewards in its ongoing loyalty programme recently rolled out with Cashtoken, a Cash Reward-as-a-Service company.

The winners included no fewer than 40 customers who adopted and transacted on the Bank’s digital banking platforms, including the UniFi mobile banking application, the *7799# USSD platform or activated their Unity Bank Verve Card to transact on e-payment terminals across Nigeria.

Beginning from onboarding in our customer lifecycle journey, the Unity Bank Cashtoken Partnership commenced as a loyalty and reward scheme to reinforce the benefits of e-banking platforms. To begin, Customer transactions earn cash tokens, which are then redeemed to qualify for the monthly Cashtoken Rewards draw. Consequently, winners emerge from the draws to claim the cash prizes.

Recall that the retail lender announced the ongoing Cashtoken Rewards loyalty programme in December 2023 in partnership with Cashtoken Rewards Africa to empower customers and improve customer satisfaction. The partnership with Cashtoken Rewards also provided an opportunity for the Bank to migrate customers—old and new—to a platform that will continually create exciting rewards and appreciation for loyalty.

Eghomware Iyamu, Unity Bank’s Head of E-Business, commenting on the success of the Cashtoken Rewards loyalty program, stated: “We are excited to see our customers win over N4 million in cash rewards through our partnership with Cashtoken. This initiative demonstrates our commitment to recognizing and rewarding the loyalty of our customers”.

“By leveraging our digital banking platforms, including the Unifi mobile banking application and the *7799# USSD platform, we are not only enhancing customer experience but also providing life-changing opportunities. The Cashtoken Rewards program is a testament to our dedication to improving customer satisfaction and creating meaningful rewards along our customer lifecycle journey. We look forward to seeing more of our customers benefit from this exciting program as we continue to innovate and deliver exceptional value to them.”

Unity Bank has robust electronic banking products which include mobile and digital banking channels, including ATM, PoS, or any digital payment channels which support retail product transactions across the country. New-to-Bank customers are invited to open a Unity Bank account, onboard onto the digital platforms and begin transacting on the various platforms to earn cash token rewards and cash prizes while existing customers are encouraged to onboard and transact to win even more rewards and cash prizes.

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IMF Downgrades Nigeria’s Earlier Growth in Latest Forecast

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised downward Nigeria’s economic growth projection by 0.2 percentage point amid weaker than expected activity in the first quarter of the year.

The Nigeria’s growth forecast was revised downward by 0.2 from the earlier projection in April.

This in turn has led to a downward revision of economic growth for sub-Saharan Africa.

The IMF announced this development in its World Economic Outlook (WEO) update released on Tuesday.

The report read: “The forecast for growth in sub-Saharan Africa is revised downward, mainly as a result of a 0.2 percentage point downward revision to the growth outlook in Nigeria amid weaker than expected activity in the first quarter of this year.”

The Bretton Wood institution raised alarm that some near-term risks have gained prominence from the previous outlook.

It added: “Overall, risks to the outlook remain balanced, as in the April 2024 WEO, but some near-term risks have gained prominence. These include upside risks to inflation that stem from a lack of progress on services disinflation and price pressures emanating from renewed trade or geopolitical tensions.

“Risks of persistent inflation in the services sector are tied to both wage and price setting, given that labor accounts for a high share of the costs in that sector. Higher nominal wage growth, which in some cases reflects the catch-up of real wages, if accompanied by weak productivity, could make it difficult for firms to moderate price increases, especially when profit margins are already squeezed.

“This could lead to further stickiness in wage and price inflation. The escalation of trade tensions could further raise near-term risks to inflation by increasing the cost of imported goods along the supply chain.

“Bumpiness along the remaining disinflation path could destabilize the return to price stability if short-term expectations spike upward as a result of disappointing inflation data.”

IMF equally held its global growth expectations for 2024.

The Fund expects the world economy to grow 3.2 percent this year, unchanged from its April forecast.

“Global activity and world trade firmed up at the turn of the year, with trade spurred by strong exports from Asia, particularly in the technology sector,” it stated.

For 2025, it expects global growth of 3.3 percent.

The Washington-based lender also warned that the prospect of interest rates staying elevated longer in the face of escalating trade tensions and increased policy uncertainty.

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