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FirstBank Commissions Second Fully Automated Self Service Branch, Unveils Digit Xperience Centre in UI



First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial inclusion services organisation, has announced the launch of its second fully automated branch, the FirstBank Digital Xperience Centre (DXC), on the campus of the University of Ibadan (U.I).

Professor. Kayode Adebowale, Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Professor E.O Ayoola, Deputy Vice Chancellor Admin and Professor Aderonke Baiyeroju, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academics led the university community in hosting the delegation from FirstBank comprising Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, CEO, FirstBank; Callistus Obetta, Group Executive, Technology & Innovation Services and Timothy Arowoogu, Group Head, Public Sector, West amongst others.

The DXC is a significant leap by FirstBank in revolutionizing the banking industry in the country as it is a state-of-the-art hub that puts customers at an advantage in experiencing world-class innovative banking services and explore the future of banking firsthand.

It is designed to cater to the growing and evolving needs of consumers and the banking public, enabling customers to navigate the digital landscape with confidence. The initiative aligns with the Bank’s commitment to delivering exceptional customer experiences and staying at the forefront of financial innovation.

Provided to put customers at an advantage in carrying out various activities on their own without interacting with anyone, the self-service branch is built with a wide range of phased modern banking facilities. These include humanoid robots equipped with Video Banking and Artificial Intelligence (AI), taking on the role of friendly branch staff; Teller Cash Recyclers (TCRs); Self-Service kiosks for non-financial transactions such as account updates; Fast Track (Contactless) ATMs; Interactive Smart Screen to ensure effective and comprehensive consultation with bank sales staff via remote video connection.

Other services include paperless/electronic forms designed to promote the timely resolution of complaints, dispensing of account statements and account enquiry/management, funds transfer, dispensing of new ATM cards; fixed deposit booking between N100,000.00 to N5,000,000.00, card services and management, cheque management, email and phone number update, ATM card and token block, amongst many others.

Expressing his delight at the initiative, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, CEO, FirstBank said ‘Our mantra, “Woven into the fabric of society”, summarises how we have proven our commitment to customers across all our footprints globally, by investing in modern technology infrastructure to pioneer digitisation of products and platforms, thereby giving our over 42 million customers convenient, seamless, safe and secure banking experience”.

The FirstBank DXC is a fully automated interactive digital branch, the first of its kind in the Nigerian banking industry. It was first launched in Lagos, Nigeria in 2021 and has since then, redefined customers’ banking experience by introducing them to a new world of digitised self-services,” he said.

95% of customer-induced transactions on FirstBank’s digital channels are enjoyed by 22 million of its digital product users. The Bank processes over 12% of the industry payment volume in Nigeria.

FirstBank Digital Xperience Centre is a cutting-edge facility that reshapes the way customers interact with banking services, bringing an unparalleled level of convenience, efficiency, and innovation to their financial journeys.

Furnished with the latest advancements in financial technology, it is one of the many ways the Bank reinvents itself to leave no stone unturned in exposing its customers to state-of-the-art and leading digital banking experience in the continent. The Bank’s first Digital Xperience Centre was unveiled in 2021 at its remodelled Adetokunbo Ademola branch, Victoria Island.

The groundbreaking initiative is scheduled to hit other locations across the country’s geopolitical zones in the coming months.

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N1000/$: The Fall and Fall of the Naira




By Eric Elezuo

This is not the best of times for the Nigerian Naira as market forces continue to work to its detriment, leading to a rush for the few available Dollars, and in turn falling to all time low.

On Thursday, a Bloomberg report quoted one Yahaya Adamu, a currency dealer in Wuse, a suburb of the nation’s capital, Abuja, Traders in Abuja as saying that the dollar was quoted at N998, just N2 short of N1000.

Also, in the commercial hub Lagos, the dollar is changing hands for around 990, according to Umar Salisu, a foreign-exchange operator who compiles the data in Lagos, noted Bloomberg.

This explains in a nutshell that the Nigerian naira extended its slide and hurtled toward the 1000-per-dollar mark in street trading, as the central bank held back from supplying dollars to a panic-stricken market.

Explaining further, Adamu informed tgat “Dollar is so scarce now that as I speak to you, you cannot find $1000 to buy,” Adamu said.

The currency’s parallel-market rate is now about 29% weaker than the official exchange rate, where the naira closed Wednesday at 770.71 per dollar on the FMDQ OTC trading platform. The two rates had briefly converged soon after the country’s newly elected president Bola Tinubu announced sweeping currency reforms in June, but they have diverged steadily since then as dollar supply from the central bank fell short.

The central bank has mostly been on the sidelines this month, according to market players, with one person saying it has barely supplied dollars to the official window. That has helped accelerate the naira’s slide, pushing it down from around 900 per dollar at the start of September.

Meanwhile, companies seeking hard currency to pay for imports have been joined in dollar buying by ordinary citizens who are fearful of further depreciation in the naira.

On Thursday, the central bank postponed a rate-setting meeting scheduled for Sept 25-26. Its new governor, ex-Citigroup executive Olayemi Cardoso, is yet to be confirmed in his role, while the acting governor and four deputy governors have resigned, effectively leaving a policy-making vacuum at the top.

Recall that since June when President Bola Tinubu tingled with the nation’s monetary policy, the naira has headed on a free uncontrolled fall. Tinubu touched on monetary policy and indicated his preference for a low interest rate regime to stimulate economic growth and employment.

Following the policy, the Central Bank of Nigeria announced immediate changes to operations in the Nigerian Foreign Exchange (FX) market, abolishing its hitherto multiple exchange rate windows and collapsed them into the business-based Investors and Exporters (I&E) window.

“All segments are now collapsed into the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window. Applications for medicals, school fees, BTA/PTA, and SMEs would continue to be processed through deposit money banks,” Dr Angela Sere-Ejembi, a director of the bank said in a message to authorised dealers of forex.

FX operators and other market operators had predicted a couple that the naira will hit N1000, going by prevailing circumstances and indices, and today, the prediction has come to pass with no tangible clue that status quo ante as at May 2023 may be maintained.

In his defence, the Minister of Finance, and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Adebayo Olawale Edun, said that up to $6.8 billion of overdue forward payments in the foreign exchange market was responsible for the slump in the naira and until it is addressed before the local currency can stabilise.

He explained that once unpaid contracts are resolved, it will help the naira become stronger and “pave the way for additional foreign exchange flows.”

While Nigerians await Edun’s prescription to come to pass, they look up the new Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Michael Cardoso in collaboration with Efun to find a path to restoration as the populace groans in the hardship the present situation is unleashing on residents.

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Glo Bags Two Honours at Consumer Value Awards




Globacom, Nigeria’s leading digital services provider, was on Thursday at the second annual Consumer Value Awards, honoured for its excellent contributions to the country’s telecom sector.

At the ceremony held at the Radisson Blu Hotels, Ikeja GRA, Lagos, Globacom, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary, took home the awards for “Best Value for Money Data & ISP Brand of the Year 2023” and “Best Value for Money Telecommunication Service of the Year 2023.”

Mr. Akonte Ekine, Managing Director of Brand Xchange, the event organizers, said in a speech that the Consumer Value Awards are a distinguished online periodic award designed to raise awareness for consumer rights and promote brand excellence in the nation. Consumers cast their votes online through Brand Xchange, and the results were thereafter announced.

Said Mr Ekine: “Globacom emerged as “Best Value for Money Telecommunication Service of the Year 2023” and “Best Value for Money Data & ISP Brand of the Year 2023″, after polling a total of 56% and 53% of the votes respectively by consumers, showing the level of acceptability of the brand across the country.  Glo and other winners have shown relentless commitment to consumer- centricity”.

Mr Zakari Usman, Head of Enterprise Business at Globacom, thanked Nigerians for supporting Glo by voting for the firm and called the honour a perfect 20th anniversary gift from Nigerians. He gave them his word that the business will keep providing its customers with top-notch services and unmatched advantages.

“The Glo brand had in the last 20 years of operation shown its commitment to innovative service delivery, excellent customer experience and empowerment of Nigerians. We will continue to delight Nigerians with our customer-centric product and services”, Zakari added.

Representatives of the Lagos State Governor, Mrs. Adetutu Ososanya, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and Mr. Olumide Sogunle, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy, were among the prominent figures from the public and private sectors who attended the event. In addition to Mr. Wakil Adamu, Director of Human Resources and Administration, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, and Mr. Solebo Adebayo, General Manager, Lagos State Consumer Protection Agency, Mallam Alkazeem Umar, Director of Consumer Affairs Bureau, Nigeria Communications Commission, also attended the event.

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Hindenburg Report: Tingo Group Releases Report of Detailed Investigation, Maintains Innocence




By Eric Elezuo

The Tingo Group, a conglomerate of several merchandise, including fin-tech, agri-fintech, and food, has finally released the reports of its investigation regarding the hinderberg research against its operations, insisting that it has done no wrong.

The Report of the investigation, which was conducted by independent directors and independent counsel, was made public on Wednesday via the company’s official website, noting that the next step will be on investigating allegations against its founder, Dozy Mmobuosi.

Read the detailed report:

Tingo Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: TIO) (“Tingo” or the “Company”), a profitable and fast growing fintech, agri-fintech and food company, today announced it has completed the investigation of the allegations made by short seller Hindenburg Research (“Hindenburg”), that relate directly to the Company and its businesses.

At the direction of the Company’s independent directors, independent counsel investigated certain of the Hindenburg allegations and provided the independent directors with an interim report summarizing evidence it had reviewed, along with items requiring further investigation. The Company’s outside counsel then conducted its own investigation into the allegations, which included following up on the items identified by independent counsel. Based on the Company’s outside counsel’s investigation and further investigative work of its own, the Company has concluded it can now provide the following response to the allegations in the Hindenburg report:

  • Agri-Fintech Holdings, Inc. Resignation of Director: Christophe Charlier was a co-Chairman of OTC-listed company, Agri-Fintech Holdings, Inc., which sold Tingo Mobile Limited to the Company on November 30, 2022. Mr. Charlier has never been a member of the Company’s Board of Directors, nor has he been involved in the management of the Company. In his resignation letter, which was filed with the SEC, Mr. Charlier complained only of a lack of communication and teamwork at Agri-Fintech Holdings.
  • Tingo Foods Revenue and Operating Margin: The revenue reported by Tingo Foods in Q1 2023 and its operating margin of 24.8 % has been confirmed.
  • Tingo Foods Business Relationships: During the period from September 2022 to March 31, 2023, Tingo Foods purchased its raw crops from two organizations in Nigeria, including the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (“AFAN”), which delivered the crops to third-party food processors. Tingo Foods then sold the processed food to several large wholesalers in Nigeria.
  • Food Processing Facility:   The construction of the Tingo Foods processing facility in Nigeria is well underway, with food and beverage processing operations expected to commence in Q2 2024. The images and renderings used for the Foods Processing Facility’s groundbreaking ceremony in February 2023 and in early presentational materials were stock images provided by an external marketing company, whereas specific renderings of the actual facility are currently being utilized. The Company has contracts in place with the construction company for the project and with Evtec Energy Plc and TAE Power Solutions Limited for the construction of a solar power plant to power the processing facility. Evtec Energy Plc is a special purpose vehicle for the project, whereas TAE Power Solutions Limited is a part of a multinational group that has been trading for more than 25 years.
  • Tingo Foods Sale of Inventory: The inventory held by Tingo Foods at the time it was purchased by the Company in February 2023 was sold to a customer on March 20, 2023, the proceeds for which were received on June 29, 2023.
  • Tingo Mobile Business Relationships with Farming Organizations: Tingo Mobile leases mobile phones to four co-operatives and farming organizations: the Kebbi (Dala) Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society (“Kebbi”), the Ailoje Royal Farms Multi-Purpose Cooperative (“Ailoje”), the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (“AFAN”), and the Ashanti Investment Trust (“Ashanti”). The two farming cooperatives referenced in the Hindenburg report were Kebbi and Ailoje, to which Tingo Mobile has leased 4.5 million and 4.844 million phones respectively. The relationships with all the co-operatives and farming organizations have been confirmed.
  • Mobile License: Tingo Mobile does not directly provide airtime and data services on the phones it leases to customers, or through its Nwassa platform. Such services are currently provided by a third-party vendor. Tingo Mobile therefore does not require a Mobile License from the Nigerian Communications Commission. This arrangement allows Tingo Mobile’s customers to choose the best network provider for their location from Airtel, MTN, 9 Mobile and Globacom. Tingo Mobile earns a commission on the airtime and data services purchased by its customers, which it receives from its vendor, and which were previously received from Airtel.
  • Tingo Mobile’s Phone Suppliers: Since 2020, Tingo Mobile has purchased mobile phones from two suppliers: UGC Technologies Limited, with which it has had a contractual relationship since December 2020, and Bullitt Mobile, with which it has had a distribution agreement since February 2022.Hindenburg contacted a company called UGC Mobile Technologies in the U.S., not Tingo Mobile’s supplier, UGC Technologies Limited, which has offices in Africa and China. Tingo Mobile has purchased almost all its mobile phones from UGC Technologies Limited to date, with only a small purchase of 1,000 units of Caterpillar branded phones from Bullitt Mobile in 2022.
  • Tingo Mobile’s Taxes: On April 7, 2023, Tingo Mobile paid in full to the Nigeria Federal Inland Revenue Service (“FIRS”) its corporate income tax (“CIT”) and Tertiary Education Tax (“EDT”) for the fiscal year 2022.
  • Tingo Mobile Ghana: The Company’s recently established operations in Ghana are currently conducted exclusively through its trade agreement with the Ashanti Investment Trust. The Company leases mobile telephones to individuals introduced through the Ashanti Investment Trust and such customers also have access to Nwassa. The sim cards, airtime and data are sold to customers through a third-party vendor, as a result of which Tingo Mobile is not required to have a license with the National Communications Authority in Ghana. Tingo Mobile does not currently deal with or accept any new customers other than through its relationship with the Ashanti Investment Trust, it is however preparing to further expand the company’s business in Ghana and is currently recruiting a workforce and building a website to assist in facilitating this.
    • Independent Auditors: The engagement with Brightman Almagor Zohar & Co., a firm in the Deloitte Global Network, was after consideration of the relevant factors regarding the location of auditors. Such factors included that the Company does not have any operations in the U.S., and the consolidation process and preparation for the group’s financial statement and SEC filings is performed by the Company’s finance function in Israel.
      • Bank Balances: Bank statements were obtained directly from the banks used by Tingo Mobile and Tingo Foods, and interviews with the banks were conducted over video conference calls. The bank balances of each company were confirmed at several dates, including at the Quarter End dates of March 31, 2023, June 30, 2023, and as late as August 3, 2023, which reconciled and agreed to each company’s accounting records and financial statements.Tingo Mobile earns interest only on funds held in a fixed deposit account. Due to its cash needs from time to time, Tingo Mobile is unable to encumber a large portion of its funds in a fixed-deposit account that would earn interest.
        • TingoPay: Tingo Mobile entered into a partnership with Visa on September 27, 2021, subsequent to which it has hosted several joint events with Visa, and it also launched a beta version of TingoPay with Visa on February 14, 2023. Prior to contracting with Visa, Tingo Mobile entered into a strategic partnership agreement with Stanbic Bank, dated November 17, 2020, and work was undertaken by the parties to develop an integrated e-wallet solution. After a disagreement over the Tingo Mobile press release in April 2021, the partnership with Stanbic Bank ceased and Tingo Mobile instead entered into the partnership and e-wallet integration with Visa.
        • Tingo Mobile’s NWASSA Platform: The Nwassa USSD platform is pre-loaded on the Tingo Mobile phones that are leased to the cooperatives and their farmers. Other individuals that have their own mobile phone can also register on the Nwassa USSD platform and conduct transactions on the platform. The Nwassa platform can be used by farmers to purchase items such as farming inputs, insurance, micro-loans, or additional airtime. The transactions made through Nwassa are processed by a third-party payment processing company owned by an American multi-national fintech company, which collects a commission payment on behalf of Tingo Mobile on each transaction and remits the commissions to its bank account. Tingo Mobile has confirmed its Q1 2023 reported revenue from the NWASSA platform.
        • Tingo DMCC: Tingo DMCC is the Company’s new agricultural export business. As of June 30, 2023, Tingo DMCC had conducted three export sales transactions totaling $348 million with customers located in neighboring countries within Africa. Tingo DMCC currently conducts its business through its direct contacts and sales leads. It is, however, in the process of developing a separate website for use in the future.
        • Financial Statement Errors: The “errors” identified by Hindenburg in Tingo Group’s financial statements and MD&A in its year-end 2022 Form 10-K and Q1 2023 Form 10-Q were typographical errors that were obvious to the reader from the remainder of the numbers and other information.
          All the information required to be disclosed relating to Certain Relationships and Related Transactions (including the acquisition of Tingo Mobile on November 30, 2022), and Director Independence, was included in the Form 10-K.While the Company’s cash-flow statement inadvertently labeled an increase in trade receivables as a decrease, the numbers themselves were correct. The discrepancies Hindenburg identified between the change in receivables reported on the balance sheet and change in receivables reported in the cash flow statement reflect Hindenburg’s misunderstanding of the numbers and the relevant U.S. GAAP accounting standards, including in relation to how the business combinations that closed during the relevant accounting periods impacted the numbers. In both cases, the “difference” resulted from non-cash adjustments related mainly to the Company’s acquisition of Tingo Mobile in Q4 2022 and its acquisition of Tingo Foods in Q1 2023, all of which were correct.

          • Independent Auditors: The engagement with Brightman Almagor Zohar & Co., a firm in the Deloitte Global Network, was after consideration of the relevant factors regarding the location of auditors. Such factors included that the Company does not have any operations in the U.S., and the consolidation process and preparation for the group’s financial statement and SEC filings is performed by the Company’s finance function in Israel.
          • Bank Balances: Bank statements were obtained directly from the banks used by Tingo Mobile and Tingo Foods, and interviews with the banks were conducted over video conference calls. The bank balances of each company were confirmed at several dates, including at the Quarter End dates of March 31, 2023, June 30, 2023, and as late as August 3, 2023, which reconciled and agreed to each company’s accounting records and financial statements.Tingo Mobile earns interest only on funds held in a fixed deposit account. Due to its cash needs from time to time, Tingo Mobile is unable to encumber a large portion of its funds in a fixed-deposit account that would earn interest.

Having concluded the investigation into the allegations made by Hindenburg against the Company and its businesses, which was deemed to be the highest priority, the Company and its outside counsel will now proceed to investigate Hindenburg’s allegations against the founder of Tingo Mobile and Tingo Foods, Dozy Mmobuosi.

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