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West Africa Central Banks Explore Digital Currencies Impact On Trade



West Africa Central Banks Explore CBDC’s Impact on Trade, SiliconNigeria

The Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), a member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group, has held a virtual workshop on the trends and developments in Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC) and its potential impact on driving inter-regional trade between West African countries and internationally.

The workshop highlighted the growing interest of Central Banks in digital currencies across the globe and was aimed at exploring how BCEAO can adopt CBDC into its operations.

Speakers included Matthieu Saint Olive of ConsenSys; David Wray and Willy Lim of R3; Harold Bosse, Sébastien Le Callonnec, Kamran Shahin and Arn Vogels of Mastercard; Pascal Ordonneau, former CEO of HSBC Invoice Financing; and Erin English and Catherine Gu of Visa.  

The experts addressed key trends in the integration of CBDC into mainstream finance, exploring a range of themes and topics including policy, security, legal and regulatory considerations. They explored the impact on the global banking system and the role of commercial banks, impact on FX reserves and the need to educate the wider public.

The panel also highlighted the potential benefits of digital currencies, which include greater financial inclusion, integrity and stability, operational efficiency, and monetary policy effectiveness.

Highlighting the importance of the workshop, Nazeem Noordali, ITFC COO, said: “The 4th industrial revolution will change the face of the traditional monetary system as we know it. Technology is already reshaping the way trade is being conducted, creating new and vast opportunities for greater efficiencies and impact. ITFC firmly believes in the potential of digital currencies in boosting trade and driving greater financial inclusion and stability in the developing world.

Madame Justine Amenan Tano Beugre, Advisor to the Director General of the West African Center for Training and Banking Studies (COFEB), a division of BCEAO, noted that the Bank was of the same view as evidenced by the organisation of a press conference last December themed ‘Emergence of Cryptomoney: Fears and Controversies’, and moderated by Professor Michel Ruimy, a world-renowned expert in the field.

“It is important to stress that the BCEAO attaches particular interest to technological and financial innovations, considered as essential levers to strengthen financial inclusion. Also, like of the main central banks, our issuing institute is concerned about digital developments to be considered in the context of monetary issuance. This workshop therefore offers the opportunity to explore the issuance of the digital currency in a theoretical and practical way, but also discuss the implications for monetary policy and financial stability”, said Beugre.

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Access Bank Unveils Digital Payment Platform For SMEs



Access Bank Unveils Digital Payment Platform For SMEs, SiliconNigeria

Access Bank Plc has unveiled a digital platform known as SWIFTPAY, to facilitate payments between Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and retail customers in the digital space. SWIFTPAY, according to the bank, is a digital payment service that facilitates the receipt of business payments by enabling customers make quick, easy and secure digital payments on social media platforms to merchants.

Speaking on this development in Lagos, group, head, emerging businesses, Access Bank, Ayodele Olojede, noted that, the lockdown experienced in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulted in less in-person interactions and  less in-person payment options.

She revealed that statistics from a survey carried out post-lockdown showed that MSMEs were impacted by cash flow, revenue and sales, adding that, the impact of the pandemic made more apparent the lack of infrastructure and access to digital resources for small businesses.

According to her, this is why Access Bank introduced SWIFTPAY to support the digital transition and growth of SME businesses.

“This product is part of the bank’s commitment to support SMEs to meet their business objectives despite the times. The new service comes in form of a payment link that can be hosted on merchants’ social media pages and sent to anyone to pay and conclude business transactions. It is easy and takes less than five minutes for interested merchants to sign up as it is convenient and time saving for everyone.”

Olojede also revealed that the bank is committed to providing very practical solutions that support the growth of small businesses in the country.

“We have been focused on providing solutions targeted at boosting the economy because we believe it is our responsibility to contribute to the stimulation of economic growth. With the launch of “SwiftPay by Access”, we are renewing our commitment to providing the much-needed technological support to our SMEs,” Olojede pointed out.

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Open Banking Europe, ETPPA to Collaborate on PSD2



Open Banking Europe ETPPA to Collaborate on PSD2, SiliconNigeria

Today Open Banking Europe (OBE) and the European Third Party Providers Association (ETPPA) announced a Mutual Cooperation agreement had been signed to foster collaboration, enhance industry understanding and establish a framework for sharing information between the two organisations.

The Mutual Cooperation Agreement formalises and strengthens the interaction and existing relationship between OBE and the ETPPA at a strategic level, focusing on providing guidance and clarification on the operational aspects of PSD2 in Europe.

Both parties will work together on activities relating to TPP services under PSD2 Open Banking. This comprises research, statements, documents and webinars, as well as outreach to other organisations within the Open Banking ecosystem.

The agreement also provides for continued strengthening of future cooperation between OBE and the ETPPA in achieving common goals that will increase stability and help accelerate the Open Finance journey.

John Broxis, Managing Director, Open Banking Europe, stated: “This agreement builds on the extraordinary work we have done with the ETPPA in understanding the needs and concerns of TPPs, and bringing these to the attention of regulators and banks so that the successful implementation of Open Banking in Europe can continue”.

Ralf Ohlhausen, Chairman, ETPPA, commented, “Our cooperation with OBE over the past few years has been very fruitful already and we would like to strengthen this further given the many outstanding issues around Open Banking and the need for applying the lessons learned to Open Finance”.

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Crypto-currencies and Blockchain

Luno Offers To Work With CBN, SEC On Cryptocurrency Regulatory Framework



Luno Offers To Work With CBN SEC On Cryptocurrency Regulatory Framework, SiliconNigeria

Luno, global cryptocurrency platform which has over three million customers in Nigeria said today that it was ready to work with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other regulators to create a cryptocurrency regulatory framework for the country.

 On the back of the CBN’s recent crypto ban, the exchange details its strategy to navigate the impact of the CBN’s circular as well as deeper context on the ban’s effect on Nigeria’s crypto sector.  

It stated that Nigeria is among the world’s biggest users of cryptocurrency where it has worked hard to build a safe and transparent ecosystem for its Nigerian customers and today, Luno has more than three million customers in the country. 

A statement by Luno noted that this mission was unfortunately interrupted recently, when a Central Bank of Nigeria circular was published, prohibiting banks and other payment providers from working with cryptocurrency platforms. It shares the Central Bank of Nigeria’s concern for Nigerians, but feel that the approach it has taken here does not achieve the CBN’s objectives in this instance.

It says any attempt to restrict access to cryptocurrency does not protect Nigerians. “It holds them back and leaves them vulnerable. It prevents honest Nigerians from taking advantage of all that cryptocurrency has to offer them. It also leaves the regulators at a disadvantage. Blanket bans push people “underground” [i.e. trading via Whatsapp or Telegram groups, for example]. This makes activity involving transparency less transparent and means financial bodies have less visibility of what’s going on. 

“Pushing people underground also makes it easier for scammers to exploit Nigerians, and we are already seeing Bitcoin trade at huge premiums in the country as a result of the ban. Other companies have made the choice to find workarounds that are less visible for regulators – for example, Peer-2-Peer (P2P) trading,” it says.

According to Luno, “Our view is that P2P trading would go against the spirit of the CBN’s directive. We believe that the focus should instead be on demonstrating to the CBN that exchanges such as Luno have the necessary controls in place to address the concerns it has in relation to cryptocurrencies.”

It says Nigeria’s regulators have taken a pragmatic and forward-looking approach to cryptocurrency in the past, with the SEC even actively developing a framework to regulate. “We’re confident that this issue can be resolved quickly, so that Nigeria can continue to play a central role in the growth of cryptocurrency.

“This also isn’t the first time Luno has faced a situation like this. When the Malaysian Securities Commission introduced a new regulatory framework for crypto exchanges in the region, Luno worked with regulators to become the country’s first licensed exchange.

“This has created an inclusive and transparent cryptocurrency ecosystem in the country, making it easier for consumers and regulators alike. We would like to work with CBN and regulators in Nigeria as we have in other countries, to create an open dialogue and to come to a solution that works for everyone,” the statement concluded.  

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