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Polaris Bank Democratizing Banking with the Launch of VULTe

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Polaris Bank M.D Innocent C. Ike

 

Raheem Akingbolu writes on digitisation in the banking industry and how the recently unveiled VULTe by Polaris Bank will change the game and deepen the bank’s penetration in the market place

 

Few years ago, the debate among stakeholders in the banking industry was centered around whether Nigerians can easily key into the world of digital or not. Like every new innovation, it appeared cumbersome and even those who were positive thought it would take decades before the final switch over. Today, the adaptation to the new regime appears faster than imagined. Digitalization in the banking industry hasn’t only revolutionized banking, it has stepped up competition and enhanced seamless operation. The bottom line is that the banking public is in for a new and better regime.

Within a span of 10 years, major banks in the market that want to stay relevant and play big have all rolled out digitalized innovations.

VULTe

The beauty of it all is that every day, digitisation is taking the world by storm, with technology and advanced analytics penetrating every industry. In a way, this has rendered traditional banking systems almost obsolete, as BigTech and Fintech companies close in on the banking industry faster than ever. Banks are left with no option but to adopt digital banking in a major way if they hope to compete, and mass digitisation is no longer a choice, but inevitable. The truth is that banks have now embraced digital banking.

 

Digital banking is not a fixed concept, but a spectrum, and individual banks need to decide where on that spectrum they wish to place themselves. All of this is really a stepping stone to where the real future of banking lies – in platforms. The concept of Banking as A Platform (BAAP) is relatively new but has immense potential. Platform banking would provide a digital marketplace for banking (and perhaps even non-banking) services, increasing the limits of what it can provide. Yet, this objective is not easily achievable, and banks have many factors to consider before undertaking such an endeavour.

 

As things stand, existing banks are working hard to position themselves from the threat of entry of BigTech and Fintechs, and now they seem to be giving themselves the biggest advantages to stay on top. Digitisation of banking services has successfully eliminated the need for consumers to physically visit a bank branch. In the context of a global pandemic, traditional banking systems have become outmoded. Consumers want efficiency, accessibility, and demand essential banking services in a physically safe manner. This is where Big tech airmeirms and Fintechs are giving traditional banks a run for their money. No wonder, tech titans like Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon are offering banking and financial services products directly to the consumer, at the tap of a button.

 

Enters the VULTe Platform…

 

Few weeks ago, Polaris Bank came out with a bang and unveiled The VULTe, which many analysts have since described as a democratic approach to banking services. With the VULTe, the Polaris brand has thus turned itself to bank of the people, by the people and for the people because of the demystification of the banking process.

 

As a digital tool, the VULTe is a convenient, easy and quick self-service digital solution from Polaris Bank, which allows users (New and Existing) access to range of banking services which includes; open account & wallet (NGN and USD), airtime & data top-up, fund account, funds transfer, bills payment and other banking operations.

 

In an apt description of what the bank was out to achieve with the new innovation, the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) of Polaris Bank, Dele Adeyinka, in one sentence explained what differentiates VULTe from any other digital banking platform out there.

 

According to the CDO, “VULTe is built as a platform; a rendezvous where value providers and value consumers align with payment as a fundamental medium of exchange.”

 

Feedbacks

 

Few weeks after, the results are rolling out as users of VULTe share their experiences and how the tool is making the brand trend. The beauty of it all is that it takes only two key steps to access VULTe; a potential user’s Biometric Verification Number (BVN) and a selfie. The face on the selfie will be automatically compared with the one on the BVN using an advanced cognitive and artificial intelligence facial recognition technology before access is granted.

 

Part of the offering available in Polaris Bank’s VULTe that enables users to “serve themselves the way they want to be served” include: opening of accounts, setting of transaction limits, making multiple fund transfers at a go, verify identity documents, register biometrics, making inquiries and getting speedy responses and applying for instant loans.

 

A week after the official launch – the product had been made available to some persons, including customers before then, feedback on its use has been largely positive and elevating.

 

Speaking on the new innovation, Polaris Bank Managing Director, Innocent C Ike, describes it as the brand’s bold declaration to hand over control of banking services to its customers and allow them to serve themselves as they would want to be served.

 

This also aligns with some of the patrons of the brand who have shared their experiences. For instance, Superman Zia Usman. On May 20, 2021 noted; “Deep…rich contents…No fail transactions…user friendly. Earlier, Godwin Ikechukwu Allanah, had on May 19, 2021 commented; “Excellent app. With this app I am not scared of hacking because of the biometric features..It’s superb.” Another customer, Yinus Hassan on May 20, 2021 noted; “Indeed Vulte app is one of the best mobile banking services, it’s very convenient easy to transfer and no need for you to go (to) the bank for setup you can do it easily by yourself and you can even add the transaction limit on your own.” This was also the thought of Angor Edet, also on May 19, 2021, who exclaimed, “Wow, this is what you call a banking app. From now henceforth this is how you update an app, the interface totally set my soul on fire. The response time is great, Polaris just made it better.”

 

Through VULTe, Polaris Bank has received positive ratings from customers, with many describing the platform as convenient, user-friendly and secure.

 

Checks from a wide spectrum of customers in their various testimonials as captured on the Google Play and App store, assigned the digital bank service a five-star rating, stating that their user experience of the Polaris Bank’s VULTe was highly positive.

 

Considering the feedback it has generated in a few weeks, one is not surprised that the promoters of the Polaris brand rolled out the drums to usher in an innovative tool that is poised to deepen the bank’s penetration and services. In a way, the conversation it has generated shows that, as Foreman noted, Digital Banking’s future is already here. VULTe, as a new entrant in the growing community of Digital Banking solutions in Nigeria, has been created as a convenient, easy and quick self-service digital solution to enable access to banking services via mobile devices or on desktops.

 

Happening immediately following the announcement of an impressive full year customer deposits growth margin of N56billion, it would seem the launch of VULTe was designed for a singular purpose – to spike shareholder value through the time-honored route of enhanced consumer experience.

 

Meanwhile, in what looks like a major endorsement for the App, it can now be said to be BAAP embedded as many agencies and Fintech partners are signing on the open banking platform and positioning it to be the best in class, as of today in the digital banking space.

 

Culled from THISDAY

 

 

Business

Half-Year Performance: Transcorp Plc Shows Powerful Growth as Profit Leaps by 713%

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Transcorp Hotels

Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp) has released its unaudited results for the half-year ended June 2021, recording significant improvement across its major income lines.

The Conglomerate with strategic investments in the Power, Hospitality, and Energy sectors, recorded a profit after tax of N6.5bn, rising by 713% up from N0.8bn recorded in June of the previous year. Other key highlights of the result include the following:

  • Revenue rose by 53%, from N35.0bn in June 2020 to N53.3bn in the period under consideration.
  • Gross profit grew by 60%, from N14.7bn in June 2020 to N23.5bn in June 2021.
  • Profit before tax rose by 689% from N0.9bn in June 2020 to N7.1b in June 2021.

Commenting on the performance, Transcorp’s President/Group CEO, Mrs. Owen Omogiafo, reiterated the Conglomerate’s commitment towards producing long-term value and sustainable impact. “We are pleased to see the sustained growth in our group performance, which was achieved as a result of the improved performance across all the sectors we operate in. The revenue achieved in our power business grew by 48%, as a result of improved gas supply and increased generation capacity”, she stated.

Commenting on the hospitality sector, Omogiafo stated that the company’s strategic actions have resulted in a growth in revenue of up to 84%, despite the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on the Nigerian and global hospitality industries. She expressed confidence in the company’s recovery strategies, citing the recent official launch of Aura, the company’s digital hospitality platform, as a testament to that confidence.

On the Group’s capacity to sustain its performance, Omogiafo said, “We do not plan to rest on our oars. We will continue to sweat our existing assets and explore new frontiers, as we continue to deliver on our purpose of Improving Lives and Transforming Nigeria.”

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Rethinking safe-haven assets and building resilient portfolios with Xend Finance

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As with most things in life, feeling overwhelmed as a newbie is simple, and this is especially true in such a volatile market as the world of cryptocurrencies. Regardless of the uncertainty and worries, the world of cryptocurrency has the potential to have a unique and substantial impact on anyone’s financial stability.

Government Bonds, treasury bills, and other forms of fixed income investments are undeniably considered as safe haven investments due to their low risk, but with inflation on the increase, the question arises how safe is money locked up for a specific period of time?

It is therefore important to build a resilient portfolio able to minimize risks and mitigate volatility, diversity into multiple unrelated investments, deliver steady returns and also able to recognize changing market conditions, new opportunities and respond accordingly.
Enter the world of Stablecoins. A less volatile cryptocurrency asset pegged to a cryptocurrency, fiat money, or to exchange-traded commodities (such as precious metals or industrial metals).

Compare to other forms of cryptocurrency assets like bitcoin, or altcoins the advantages of stablecoins are stabilized by assets that fluctuate outside of the cryptocurrency space that is prices are pinned to real-world assets.
Most stablecoins are pegged to the US Dollar as they are an easy way to get exposure to the crypto space without having to worry about volatility.

You can build a resilient portfolio with stable coins by having a good foundation on which you can build and protect your investment portfolio. This is necessary to provide a buffer when the markets are volatile or things go south.

These stablecoins also provide diversification as Investor Phillips Hodges mentioned in an interview emphasized the importance of balancing factors affecting the returns you can get across the different than the classes themselves. Stable coins also provide the extra diversification a portfolio needs to stay afloat in a stormy market, minimize losses due to their low volatility.

Be rest assured as an investor that your portfolio can only said to be strong when you have investments that can stand the test of time. Inflations and rickety market conditions.
If you’re a fund manager looking to get exposure to the crypto space through stable coins, send an email to [email protected] and someone would be in touch with you.

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Market formation framework, driver to optimally develop solid mineral sector- Ifie Sekibo 

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Ifie Sekibo

MD/CEO of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo has said that the market formation framework is the key to optimally exploit Nigeria’s precious metal and solid minerals endowments. He disclosed this during a webinar organized by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development with the theme, “Financing the Solid Minerals Sector through the Capital Market and the Critical Role of Commodity Exchanges.”  

Sekibo explained that a fully established market formation process that would lead to having a Corporation as an integrated solid mineral institution like NNPC which allows the collateralization of assets those banks can rely on for alternative funding options.

According to him, this will guarantee other creative ways of raising funds for financing commercial activities relating to solid minerals and viable projects along its value chain.

Sekibo who was represented by the Divisional Head, Strategy and Business Solutions, of the Bank, Olusegun Akanji, said for the sector to be viable, it requires lots of converged government interventions because for any development focused sector to kick-off around the world, it needs government intervention to lay the foundation for the private sector and funders to step-in and pool their resources.

“Once, we can collateralize these assets, whether they are under the ground or being determined, you use different instruments to bring liquidity into them. Then investors will follow up once we have established there is enough they can explore.” the MD stated.

He further suggested that finance sector regulators need to expand their Prudential Guidelines to accommodate the instruments such that precious metal-backed or solid minerals-backed assets could qualify as part of the computation of liquidity ratios.

“Once banks start injecting their resources, customers would certainly follow that trend. You can start arranging for sophisticated solutions like bonds, bullion-backed assets and pension notes. Again, banks will have to be poised to hold the funding that comes from this sector; that way, they can open new transactional frontiers either locally or internationally.

“At the base of this, are the issues of pricing and integrity of the market. Once banks play in that sector and we have a government institution like the NNPC type to hold all this documentation, it would be very easy to establish price discovery on an ongoing basis. This will in turn attract international funders, hedge funds and retail investors. Today, we have retail bonds in the same way; we can have gold-backed or any of the solid mineral assets where retail investors can put in the funds,” Sekibo explained.

Meanwhile, it would be recalled that Heritage Bank Plc has said its involvement in the private sector collaboration with Dukia Gold & Precious Metals Refining Co. Limited is set to unlock the over N344 trillion market worth of gold investible instruments in the solid minerals sector.

However, he reiterated that a consistent packaged framework, which could only be held by an established government institution, as part of the layers of the framework, would help to tackle major challenges in trying to support Dukia Gold’s clients.

“With a consistent packaged framework, it will be easier for Dukia Gold and help in less spending. If Dukia Gold should speak of their challenges, they will speak about tonnes of documents they have to produce. But with a unified source of documentation, it makes the process easier and improves cost management. These are some of the challenges we have experienced in trying to support a few clients we worked with,” Sekibo stated.

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