Nigerians decry circulation of mutilated naira notes

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Some Nigerians have decried the widespread circulation of mutilated naira notes in the country and called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to reverse the trend and ensure better management of the nation’s currencies.

In interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos, they noted that several cases of misunderstandings had occurred among citizens while carrying out business transactions with the tattered and dirty notes.

They also decried the use of the polymer banknotes, which are easily defaced, and suggested a return to the paper currency for all denominations.

NAN reports that the CBN on Feb. 28, 2007 announced the introduction of polymer versions of N5, N10, N20 and N50 notes.

However, 11 years after, many Nigerians now reject the polymer notes citing its poor quality and short life span that make it difficult to carry out transactions with them.

Mr Tunde Okeowo, a financial expert, said the CBN should consider bringing back the coins, and that its absence had resulted in the negative impact on transactions, which had a multiplier effect on the economy.

Okeowo identified inflation as part of the negative effects of the absence of coins, especially as people were no longer bothered about collecting balance after paying for products.

“On this recurring issue of scarcity of clean notes, especially N100, I advise the CBN to look into issuing some new naira notes in densely populated states like Lagos in order to make it more acceptable for use.

He also called for continuous enlightenment to educate traders on reasons and ways of preserving the notes.

Mrs Tolu Ajibade, a civil servant, said the prevalence of dirty and mutilated naira notes was appalling, and that the N200 note was gradually becoming unfit like the N100 notes.

She said many Nigerians have resigned themselves to the reality of possessing and transacting business with dirty naira notes.

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HP Nigeria hosts interactive business workshop in Abuja

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Hewlett Packard Nigeria Limited a subsidiary of Hewlett Packard Enterprise has continued to deepen its strides in innovative solutions in the Information Technology sector in Nigeria. From its numerous customer-related activities, training and workshops providing support and enabling businesses to thrive in various sectors, the firm has proven that it is indeed here for the growth of the IT industry in Nigeria.

Over the years, Hewlett Packard Enterprise has remained a key information technology infrastructure advisor and provider to establishments/businesses within Nigeria and across the world by leveraging cutting-edge solutions. HPE has been at the forefront of development and innovative solutions to better address the infrastructure needs of clients within different facets of ICT requirements.

Speaking with the Public Sector & SMB Manager for HPE Nigeria – Mr. Valentine Okoh at the event, he stated “Our goal is to help improve efficiency in the workplace and beyond by creating innovative technology and platforms companies can leverage on in order to transform processes qualitatively, which reduces turnaround time and increasing return on investment.

He also communicated that Hewlett Packard Nigeria as a company is willing to collaborate with every facet of the industry to help customers by using technology to turn ideas into the value which enables positive transformation and ultimately, lives” Recently in Nigeria, the firm hosted some strategic business leaders in IT businesses to a Workshop.

The Exclusive Business Interactive Workshop was well attended by key stakeholders in business and public sector segment and it provided a rich opportunity for communication, feedback and learning for all who attended and gave both HPE and Clients opportunity to discuss on challenges in the customer’s environment, while also strategizing on how to achieve acceleration in this Era of Hybrid Computing to optimize performance in the workplace.

Some of the solutions discussed were Artificial intelligence on Infrastructure, Composable infrastructure, Aruba Solution and more. In totality this was a robust experience for all and business had the opportunity to sign up for innovative solutions and consulting which will transform business environments and workplace for more productivity within the sector.

The Information technology sector is a constantly evolving one all over the world and HPE has been at the forefront of innovation and change in this space for over 75years globally. Its research and solutions in Nigerian IT Sector are poised to deliver breakthrough technologies for businesses at all levels.

Apple and Samsung end patent fight after seven long years

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Apple and Samsung have finally settled a seven-year-long patent dispute, bringing to an end the long-running battle over the design of their rival smartphones.

The terms were not disclosed.

But it comes weeks after a US jury ordered Samsung to pay Apple $539m(£403m) in damages for copying features of the original iPhone.

The fight started in 2011, when Apple sued its South Korean competitor, seeking more than $2bn in damages.

The suit was the first of many that saw the two companies square off in courts around the world.

In 2012, a US jury awarded California-based Apple $1.05bn in damages for the copied features, which included design elements like the screen that displays icons in a grid.

Samsung appealed part of that award, taking its case all the way to the Supreme Court, arguing that damages should be limited since patent infringement involved only certain features.

In 2016, in a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court agreed, handing a victory to Samsung.

But the justices did not rule on the patents themselves, leaving that decision to a lower court.

That battle went to trial in May, ending in defeat for Samsung, which had argued that it owed only $28m. Instead the jury set the award at $539m – about $140m more than the figure it had appealed.

How banks outsmart the market, making profits despite bad loans

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BUSINESS environment in Nigeria worsened in 2016 when the economy plunged into recession. So, for most of 2017, Nigeria struggled to exit the bad economic condition. “If the economy is doing very well, some of those businesses that are defaulting on their loan obligations will also be doing well. If the economy is not doing well, then those underlying businesses would also not be doing well, thereby finding it difficult to pay back their loans,” Managing Director of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Mr. Ahmed Kuru said while giving a clear picture of the situation.

Incidentally, lenders needs to extend new loans for greater development and provision of faster stimulants for economic recovery, but most of them  got their fingers burnt as those who borrowed money from them could not pay back.

When a borrower stops paying back money borrowed, it is regarded by the lender as a Non-performing Loan (NPL). An NPL by definition is the sum of borrowed money of which a debtor has not been able to meet up in scheduled payments for at least 90 days, and is either in default or close to being in default. Once a loan is non-performing, the odds that it will be repaid in full are considered to be substantially lower, while the NPL ratio is the amount of NPLs over total loans, usually expressed as a percentage. Such loan in effect reduces current profits because the banks will account for expected losses known as impairment charges. These are basically money that is put aside by a bank in case its customers cannot make the required loan repayments, but which will leave a huge dent in a company’s profits.

Historically, bad loan kills banking business across the world, yet banks exist to give loans. For decades, the Nigerian banking industry has suffered so much under the yoke of NPLs.

Incidentally, they cannot stop lending because the business of banking is the business of taking money from those who have, and making it available at a cost, to those who don’t have, but need it for investment and other purposes.

However, when banks go out of this intermediation role to make money from other sources, it becomes a subject of argument whether the banks are being innovative or compromising professional ethics and standards.

The central bank is aware of this when it set a rule that says lenders with “NPL ratios above 10per cent shall not be allowed to pay dividend.”

Apparently, the apex banking regulator is aware that it is a misnomer to have huge hole dug by NPLs in the books of a bank while the same lender claims to be recording jumbo profits and giving out dividends to shareholders.  This reality was captured by the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC) Ibrahim Magu during a session with the Association of Chief Compliance Officers of Banks in Nigeria, May 2018.

His words:“We must work together to save this country. Most of the banks are sitting on the water. In fact, some of these banks are almost collapsing.”

So, it is interesting to have a good number of banks with huge NPLs declaring impressive profits in 2017 and first quarter of 2018.

Some stakeholders see this as innovative, arguing that thinking outside the box in this case is when a lender discovers other possible ways of delivering value to shareholders in periods when traditional methods fail. Others argue that these banks are cutting corners, and violating credit management and professional banking rules. This view is supported by Kuru when he explained that at the point when some transactions that resulted in bad loans were entered into, some of the banks did financial engineering. “They raised the interest payable and instead of the obligor paying N4billion, it becomes N7billion.  So there are some loans that are unrecoverable.”

To this end, “There must be due diligence, even in this practice of private banking. There must be accountability; there must be transparency in our transactions. You don’t have to wait until anything goes awry before you begin to find a solution to it,” Magu on his part warns.

 

The Dollar-Yuan superiority war

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China has never veiled its intention to have its currency, the Yuan, take the centre stage in shaping global economy because of its belief that this would enable it have a better control of its domestic economy as many of the countries and companies that trade with China usually go through a third currency, especially dollar. As far back as 2009, former Governor of China’s  central bank, Zhou Xiaochuan, while delivering a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, said, “The desirable goal of reforming the international monetary system, therefore, is to create an international reserve currency that is disconnected from individual nations.” So, having the Yuan as a major player on the global scene is a strong state policy for the communist country.

The dream inched close to becoming a reality on November 30, 2015 when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) gave the Yuan the status of a reserve currency. A major success was also recorded on October 1, 2016 when the Bretton Wood institution included it in its Special Drawing Rights (SDR) basket, which determines currencies that countries can receive as part of IMF loans. The basket is also a collection of reserve currencies that serve as an alternative to the US dollar. The inclusion of Yuan marked the first time a new currency had been added to the basket since the Euro was launched in 1999. The basket already includes the Euro, Japanese yen, British pound, and U.S. dollar.

According to Bloomberg, one major benefit of being a reserve currency is that the Renminbi, another name for Yuan, would be used to price more international contracts. Most of the commodities exported by China are priced in the U.S. dollars which means that the wellness of the Chinese economy cannot be divorced from the value of its currency vis-à-vis the dollar. Another benefit is that the currency would be in higher demand as many central banks would have to hold it as part of their foreign exchange reserves. This would result in the lowering of interest rates for bonds denominated in the currency.

Speaking on the decision to include the Chinese currency in the SDR basket, Siddharth Tiwari, former IMF’s Director of Strategy, Policy, and Review Department, said “The Renminbi’s inclusion is an important milestone in the integration of the Chinese economy into the global financial system. The IMF’s determination that the Renminbi (RMB) is freely usable reflects China’s expanding role in global trade and the substantial increase in the international use and trading of the RMB. It also recognizes the progress made in reforms to China’s monetary, foreign exchange, and financial systems and acknowledges the advances made in liberalizing, integrating, and improving the infrastructure of its financial markets. We expect that the inclusion of the RMB in the SDR basket will further support the already increasing use and trading of the RMB internationally.”

Nigeria to drive youth entrepreneurship with technology

As BoI restates commitment to support SMEs
In a bid to achieve a knowledge-based economy in the near future, the federal government has unveiled plans to drive and support youth entrepreneurs in the country deploying the use of technology.

The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, stated that the federal government has concluded plans to build technological hubs in the six geopolitical zones, pointing out that it is the way to shape the future of the country.

The Vice President at the Student Innovation Challenge (SIC) South West regional demo day held at the University of Lagos, said “The best of technological companies started from the universities and this is why we have decided to build technology hubs in the six geopolitical zones starting at the University of Lagos.

“Everybody knows where the smart money is looking and we all know that the universities are the best place to get the very best talents because we believe it is what is needed to shape the future of the country.”

Meanwhile, the Bank of Industry (BoI) has reaffirmed its commitment to provide financial assistance and support for the establishment of large, medium, small and micro enterprises in the country.

According to Osinbajo, “We have partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the BOI, MTN and other agencies to organise the student challenge to find the best of students’ innovation, technology ideas, creative ideas from students across Nigeria. We want to gather many of the great ideas as much as possible for them to get a chance to be supported or tested commercially. It is absolutely the exciting time to be alive. The best days are here and the future is here.”
Earlier, the Managing Director, BOI, Olukayode Pitan, noted that the gathering was a reflection of the changing attitude in Nigeria towards innovation and galvanizing support for start-ups, pointing out that these are the choices Nigeria must make if economic development is to yield real dividends for the Nigerian masses and address the social and economic challenges.

“It is laudable that this platform allows the younger generation to showcase entrepreneurial insight, talent and innovation. The Bank of Industry (BOI) is Nigeria’s oldest, largest and most successful development financing institution. Our vision is to transform Nigeria’s industrial sector by providing financial and business support services to enterprises,” he said.

He noted that the technology sector is a budding industry that shows a significant amount of promise, harnessing the innovation and ingenuity of the nation’s vastly young population while also solving local and global problems at scale.

“I am elated that BOI is associated with the Student Innovation Challenge (SIC) because the initiative is a testament of the current paradigm shift being witnessed in Nigeria’s technology and business ecosystem. The challenge is particularly worthy of commendation because it is focused on students in tertiary institutions and creates access that allows the youth brainstorm on entrepreneurial and innovative ideas,” he added.

H explained the mandate of the bank, saying the DFI seeks to provide financial assistance and support for the establishment of large, medium, small and micro enterprise.

“The Students Innovation Challenge provides a medium in line with executing this mandate. I would like to encourage all participants who have been selected to pitch their ideas today to put their best foot forward.

“This platform creates access to actualize your ideas, do not misuse it. In every competitive contest, there would be one “victor” but many winners. To those of you whose ideas are not selected, do not be dismayed, go back and strategize. Do not give up or lose hope. You are already a winner for being here”, he added.

Vconnect introduces platform to support SMEs

A service marketplace company, Vconnect has introduced an online platform, aimed at connecting small and medium scale businesses with customers as part of efforts to promote effective marketing.The platform, market.vconnect.com, is an online mall of customers, where qualified service professionals can find and connect with real customers at any given time.

Specifically, with the use of Internet, businesses can now leverage the power of having an online presence by increasing sales, saving money on advert and getting more customers as compared to getting customers on an offline store.

Speaking at a business summit to launch the platform in Lagos, Chief Executive Officer, Vconnect, Deepankar Rustagi, said the company is poised to solve the issue of finding a reliable service provider in the industry.

Hence, it has created a way of ensuring trust between service professionals and customers on the platform with providing national identity documents and taking a pledge to provide quality services.

Rustagi noted that professionals find it hard to acquire new customers because there is a deficit of trust in our markets. “We are trying to bridge that gap bringing the right profile and qualified service professionals so people can hire them seamlessly with the help of Internet,” he said.

He revealed that there is a breakage insurance cover for customers who deal with fracture equipment, stating that what we have as target is that every individual seeking a service professional should get three quotations seamlessly within two hours on our platform.

According to him, the service is currently restricted to customers and businesses within Lagos with intent to expand by mid August to Abuja and Port Harcourt.