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Yvonne Faith Elaigwu is an experienced manager with a demonstrated history of working in the financial services industry and the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) space some of which include the UBA Foundation and Oando Foundation.
She is skilled in people management, negotiation, business planning, events planning, analytical skills, and sales. She has a Master’s degree focused in Environmental Management from the University of Lagos.
Yvonne Elaigwu is currently the Head of Operations at OnePipe, a foremost fintech API company and a Trustee at Open Banking Nigeria. In this interview, she discussed the future of the payment system in Nigeria, revealing the trends that will drive growth in the Nigerian financial tech space.
Kindly give us a brief description of who you are and your professional background?
I studied Human Anatomy at the University of Maiduguri with the goal of being a genetic engineer. Then I got a job! My first job was an Operations role and I quickly found that I enjoyed being a part of the team in the backend that provided the support and structure that ensures that all goes well. Every role I have occupied since then has been Operational in nature. I have been doing this now for over 12 years across the NGO space, banking, CSR and now in the technology space. Somewhere in between these jobs, I got a master of Environmental Management degree from the University of Lagos.
How would you describe the position of the current payment systems that are available in the Nigerian business space today?
I’d say our payment systems are growing and evolving. Transaction volume and value are growing exponentially, NIP transactions alone in 2020 were over N235 trillion which is nearly 100 times more than the e-payments transaction less than about 8 years ago. The COVID-19 pandemic literally forced the world to prioritize contactless interactions and the payment system was not excluded. This is probably one of the drivers of the rise and adoption of payment via transfer; Pay With Transfer.
About 10 years ago, the value of NIP transactions was 4,449,654 as reported by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) less than 2% of the 378,100,749 pulled in by POS terminals and ATM machines. I remember a time when every saloon and corner store was hustling to get a POS machine from their banks. It was the new in-thing and everyone needed a machine to receive payments. The store owner and customer both relied on the POS slip to confirm that a transaction was successful. It’s interesting that these store owners and merchants had bank accounts but did not think to accept payments directly into them. Today, the concept of Pay With Transfer is so accepted that the cab driver, who before now would only accept cash, (who probably never went through the POS stage) would, without much ado share an account number to receive payment for his services. Data supports this shift and growth, the CBN report on e-payments showed that in 2020, “pay with transfer” NIP volume was about 200% more than the volume of payments made on both POS terminals and ATM machines and significantly more in transaction value.
Businesses are more now comfortable with receiving payments digitally, most businesses today are profiled to receive payments digitally and this is evidenced in the fact that the transaction value and volume of all e-payment platforms are consistently growing.
What are your views on digital currencies? Do you think that they will eventually be implemented in our economy?
I am no subject matter expert here, but it looks to me that they are here to stay. Like all new “products”, they would come with their teething problems, bugs and losses. Costly mistakes would be made and lessons would be learnt. The Luna scenario of the last couple of days taught me and hopefully the ecosystem that “it’s not really stable unless it is pegged against actual money sitting in a bank account”. It’s like purifying gold, at the end of the day, impurities would be removed and a gem would emerge. While it may take us some time as a country or an economy to get onboard with a new technology (e.g. like it did with mobile networks and cell phones), we eventually catch on and make up for the lost time. I personally believe that once digital currencies are established, and become relatively more mainstream, they would be implemented and even encouraged in our country. This would probably take time, but it is very likely to happen.
What are the trends that will shape the financial space in Nigeria in a few years to come?
I think that the concept of Embedded Finance will take root and grow/shape the Nigerian financial space in a short time from now. This would be evidenced in close partnerships between traditional banks, lenders and BaaS companies to enable merchants and “regular” entities like the distributors, cooperative societies, farmers’ associations etc to provide financial services to the last mile customer. This would improve financial literacy and bank more customers. The thinking is that the farmer who has been “acquired” by his association of farmers, would know to ask that entity for a loan to grow his farm. This entity knows him and his operations intimately enough to offer him this facility. The same can happen with the distributor who acquires his retailers and offers them banking services. What would now begin to happen is that last mile customers are becoming more banked, where they are now incentivised to save their funds within the banking system in order to create transaction trails that make them eligible for credit facilities to grow their businesses and take care of pressing needs.
I also think that we will also begin to see simplified and more secure payment methods as people continue to embrace “pay with transfer”. Data already shows that people are gravitating toward this mode of payment and the failure rate of card transactions is not making it harder. In the future, the relevance of card payments would be minimized, thereby reducing the associated fraud incidences accompanied by card payments.
In what way would you say that technology is impacting the financial sector in Nigeria?
With a mobile network coverage of 99% and data from the 2019 Jumia report on Nigeria that shows that 87% of Nigerians are mobile network subscribers, it means that technology, when properly directed, can be the tool to reach the unbanked and educate the underbaked.
The rise and proliferation of technology startups in the finance space is the first glaring way that we see technology impacting the finance sector in Nigeria. The prevalence of technology has made it possible for enterprising Nigerians to build solutions that can change people’s lives. These ventures have over the years attracted billions of dollars worth of capital into the country, provided employment to thousands of people and in 2021, technology startups contributed about 10% of Nigeria’s GDP.  These technology-driven companies are building and shipping solutions targeted at the unbanked and underbanked in the country and making them available on progressive web apps, downloadable apps, USSD and POS machines. The chances that an individual in the remote village of Obagaji, Agatu where I come from (where there is no physical bank) with a mobile phone (any kind of mobile phone) is able to access a financial service today is very high and attributed to technology, driven by technology companies.
Technology has made it possible for the regular person to have access to resources on financial instruments, concepts and data with which they can make informed decisions to improve their life conditions-everything is a google search away.
Digital banking versus the traditional banking system, do you think there will be a convergence?
Eventually, yes. While digital banking is the “now” and the future, traditional banks are here to stay and will need to come to a place (probably are in that place already) where they decide between fighting digital banks, competing against them or partnering with them. We are beginning to see partnerships in the US, Europe and even here in Nigeria between traditional banks and digital banks to birth the concept of Embedded Finance, which is a relatively new concept. We expect to see more of these in the future.
As head of operations at OnePipe, what excites you about working in a startup business in Nigeria?
The challenge of building new products and systems; the joy and feeling of satisfaction from being a part of birthing something that has the propensity to change lives and influence people and economies.
Give us one practical example of a business that gained from the successful solution that OnePipe has delivered to them?
Omnibizz, a unified distribution platform in the FMCG space digitized their operations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Omnibizz worked with OnePipe to embed financial services such that their customers can now pay directly into the account of their retailer. Their retailers can also place orders, track their sales, pay for their orders, apply for credit and get approved without leaving the digital platform provided to them by Omibizz. This has reduced and will continue to reduce the dependence on cash transactions with the attending risks. It offers seamless payments, an opportunity to bank the underbanked retailer and possible credit to grow their market
What are your winning strategies for managing people who work with you, both internally and externally?
I default to treating people how I want to be treated, I also try to understand people and learn how to communicate with them.
In terms of getting the operations of a business right, what is that one piece of advice that you would offer to women who choose to launch startups in Nigeria?
In terms of operations, I would advise that you decide very quickly on the type of company you want to build and find one person whose job it would be to help champion that from the scratch. When building a startup, operational practices may not be top on the list of most important things for the company because you’ll be building products, finding product-market fit and generally just figuring out. With at least one resource dedicated to ensuring that you incorporate standard best practices into your operations and course-correct as you go, you are less likely to run into heavy-duty operational headaches in the future.
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Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng
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By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The group chief executive officer of Guaranty Trust Holding Company (GTCO) Plc, Mr Segun Agbaje, has assured customers of the company of easy access to end-to-end financial services.
He gave this assurance while commenting on the award he received at the 12th annual Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands 2022 rankings of the Top 100 Most Admired Brands in Africa.
At the event held at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Lagos, on Wednesday, May 25, 2022, Mr Agbaje was conferred with the Africa Brand Leadership Excellence award for his pivotal role in inspiring brand-led excellence that drives the growth of ‘Made in Africa’ brands and businesses and his long-standing contributions to the financial services industry.
He led GTBank through a decade of unparalleled growth and now oversees the Holding Company. The Group recently concluded the acquisition of key businesses in fund management and pension operating as Guaranty Trust Fund Managers Ltd and Guaranty Trust Pension Managers Ltd.
Also, GTBank, the banking subsidiary of GTCO, retained the number one spot as Most Admired Financial Services Brand in Africa, Most Admired Financial Services Brand in West Africa, and Most Admired Financial Services Brand in Nigeria for the second year in a row.
GTBank also ranked as the Most Admired Nigerian Financial Services brand in recognition of its excellent positioning, strength, and reach beyond Africa.
“As we grow and expand as a group, we remain committed to our founding values which have endeared our brand to millions of people across Africa and beyond, and which continue to drive our financial success.
“We will leverage the synergies within our holding company to drive Africa’s growth and achieve our vision of making end-to-end financial services easily accessible to every African,” the banker said.
He further stated that, “As a leading financial services company, we are always looking for new ways to meet every customer need and to do more to help our customers and communities thrive by creating faster, cheaper, safer products for people and businesses through every stage of life.
“The awards are testament to our boundless innovative capacity and the power of the Guaranty Trust brand to touch and enrich lives as a Proudly African and Truly International institution.”
The Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands 2022 rankings of the Top 100 Most Admired Brands in Africa is an initiative by Brand Africa aimed at driving Africa’s competitiveness and creating a positive image through strong brands with GeoPoll, the world’s leading mobile surveying platform, and Kantar, a well-respected consumer insights and data analytics company, as key technical partners.
GTCO is a diversified financial services company with over N5.1 trillion in assets, providing a wide range of banking as well as non-banking financial services in Nigeria, West Africa, East Africa, and the United Kingdom.
Its consistent year-on-year growth in customer base and delivery of superior value to all stakeholders is underpinned by its strong service culture, world-class corporate governance standards, efficient management, and bias for innovation.
GTCO is rated ‘B’ and ‘B-/B’ by Fitch and S&P Global, respectively, a reflection of its long-term stability and reputation of being a well-established franchise with strong asset quality and consistent excellent financial performance.
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By Dipo Olowookere
Business activities at the Access Bank branch on Opebi Road, Ikeja, Lagos were disrupted on Monday by some aggrieved Nigerian musicians, who are demanding the release of their funds allegedly withheld by the financial institutions for about four years.
The music acts led by the former president of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Mr Tony Okoroji, said they want the management of the bank to release the money to them without any further delay.
The action of the protesters attracted some passers-by, while some customers of the company had a slight difficulty in carrying out their financial transactions because of the distractions.
It was gathered that some of the musicians carried placards with various descriptions, including Access Bank… Ole bankReturn Our Money Now! Access Bank… Respect Court Orders … Return Musicians’ Money Today! Access Bank, 419 Bank, Release Musicians’ Money Now!!! Is Access Bank Broke? Why Are They Seizing Customers’ Money? Pay Us Our Money Today! East, West, North & South, Musicians Will Take On Access Bank. Release Musicians’ Money Today!!! etc.
While addressing newsmen, Mr Okoroji, who is the Chairman of the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), described the situation as “crazy,” saying his members have been “patient with Access Bank.”
Musicians Access Bank Opebi1Musicians Access Bank Opebi1
“They seem to have a corporate culture of never keeping to their word. You have meetings with them, reach agreements, by the time you leave, the agreements have changed,” he alleged.
He stated further that, “For almost four years, for no justifiable reason, they have traded with the money belonging to their customer at no cost and inflicted untold hardship on our members, their loyal customers.
“Two Federal High Court judges have delivered clear judgments requiring Access Bank to release the funds of their customer who has not borrowed any money from them and is not owing them one naira and they have chosen to disobey the orders of the court.
“Rather than pay us our money, they use our money to hire expensive lawyers who come to court, file incoherent motions and make juvenile arguments to hold on tenaciously to money belonging to an Access Bank customer.
Musicians Access Bank Opebi2Musicians Access Bank Opebi2
“They acquire luxury estates in Banana Island and their customers whose funds they have brazenly ceased, die in penury. This is what banking seems to have turned into in Nigeria and many Nigerians are going through this hell.
“Can you imagine that a member of the Access Bank staff told me that they can use court processes to hold us down for 25 years and that by the time they are done, our money will no longer have any value and most of the people who are involved would have died?
“Somebody should tell Access Bank that we are not playing their game anymore! We are not going to wait for 25 years. We will not wait for 25 months or 25 weeks or 25 days. This appears to be what they do to many of their innocent customers. They kill them and get away with it. It has now become a culture. People should tell them that they have now taken on the wrong guys. They will not get away with it with the musicians of Nigeria. We want our money now.
“For close to four years, they played the music and we danced. Now, we will play the music and they will dance. They want to turn the court of justice into the court of injustice and make the Nigerian people a laughing stock. It will not work with us. If they want peace, we will give them peace but if they want war, they will experience war without end.
“We will make the movie and they will watch. We will keep them awake all day and all night and even if they ever close their eyes, they will keep seeing us in their dreams, enough of all this nonsense going on in Nigeria!” he fumed.
Musicians Access Bank Opebi3Musicians Access Bank Opebi3
It will be recalled that Justice Yellin S. Bogoro of the Federal High Court, Lagos, in a judgment ordered Access Bank Plc to immediately unfreeze the bank accounts of COSON at the bank. It was also directed to pay COSON N70 million in damages.
Business Post reached out to Access Bank through one of its spokesmen, Mr Abdul Imoyo, who said the lender has appealed the judgement of the high court at an appellate court.
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By Aduragbemi Omiyale
In a bid to connect consumers and providers of renewable energy (solar solutions) as a viable solution to Nigeria’s electricity crisis, Sterling Bank Plc has introduced the Imperium Platform.
This platform will provide a range of purchase options for solar power systems to consumers because solar energy solutions are not one-size-fits-all, so purchasing options should not be either.
In a statement issued by the bank, the Group Head of Renewable Energy at Sterling Bank, Mr Dele Faseemo, disclosed that the Imperium Platform seeks to provide clean and affordable energy solutions to interested customers while providing different financing options to customers purchasing the solution outright or paying for the installation and operation of the solution.
According to him, Sterling Bank employs several purchase models to provide renewable energy solutions for its customers. This ensures that customers with different needs and purchase abilities can access solar energy solutions.
He listed the options to include outright purchase, lease to own, and power as a service. Using outright purchase as an example, he said that energy consumers could purchase products directly from vendors via the Imperium Platform, a dedicated e-commerce platform hosted by Sterling Bank.
In lease to own, Imperium provides financing at competitive interest rates for consumers with good credit scores or clean credit checks who are keen to own the assets. Under power as a service, Imperium offers fixed monthly energy-charge options to consumers, but the underlying assets are owned by Imperium as it (Imperium) purchases and owns the assets.
This saves clients huge capital outlay and maintenance worries, while the monthly energy charge is based on the capacity deployed.
Mr Faseemo explained that Sterling Bank came up with this digital product after the unveiling of the Nigerian electricity industry report entitled Powering Nigeria: How Solar Energy Can Become a Sustainable Electricity Alternative.
The report was produced by Sterling Bank in partnership with Stears, a digital information company, to tackle the problem of providing solar energy in the country.
The report showed that despite the privatization of Nigeria’s electricity industry, the country still has one of the lowest electrification rates in the world, as 43 per cent of its population has no access to grid electricity, an indication that 85 million Nigerians are not connected to – and cannot receive electricity from – the Nigerian transmission grid.
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