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Banks and businesses comply with CBN’s directive on old notes — but shortage persists

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Commercial banks in Lagos have started disbursing the old naira notes to customers at their various automated teller machines (ATMs) terminals and over the counter.

The banks were also observed to be accepting deposits of the notes — a development which is in compliance with the latest directive of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the naira redesign policy.

Yielding to pressure to obey a the supreme court judgement, the CBN had said the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes remain legal tender until December 31, 2023.

It also directed banks to comply with the court order by issuing and accepting the old notes.

“…consequently, all concerned are directed to conform accordingly,” the apex bank had said.

Checks by TheCable on Wednesday show that some commercial banks in Lagos have started to comply with the directives from both the court and the regulator.

It was observed that an Access Bank branch in Marina area of Lagos dispensed and collected the old notes from customers.

A visit to branches of Access Bank and Wema Bank in Ebute Metta, Lagos, also showed that the banks had started dispensing the old notes over the counter and via ATMs.

At Stanbic IBTC in Abule Ado, customers were paid over the counter, with a cap of N20,000; while Zenith Bank, in the same location, allowed a withdrawal of only N2,000 per transaction via ATM.

More so, customers thronged ATMs at branches of Sterling Bank, Zenith Bank, and the United Bank for Africa (UBA) in the Ikorodu axis of Lagos, to withdraw cash.

“They are dispensing,” a customer said, tersely.

CODES FOR DEPOSITS

While banks were seen to be dispensing the notes, deposits of the old N200, N500, and N1,000 were also accepted from customers.

However, TheCable observed that for deposits to be made, customers are still required to generate a CBN reference code — a process launched in February for the apex bank’s currency redemption exercise.

At all the bank branches visited by TheCable reporters, customers were mandated to generate the reference code before they could deposit their old naira notes.

TRADERS ACCEPTING OLD NOTES GRADUALLY

When it comes to the theatrics of the naira redesign policy, one major problem the CBN’s fresh directive seems to be addressing is the rejection of the old notes by traders and business owners, as the TheCable’s findings show.

Narrating his experience, Musa Ciroma, a businessman who had collected the old notes from the Access Bank branch ATM at Marina, said he had bought petrol with the money and it was accepted.

Motorists and traders in the vicinity also accepted the currency notes. Most businesses in Ikorodu have also started transacting with the old notes.

“Everyone is accepting the old notes. Traders started accept since yesterday [Tuesday],” a tomato seller in Ikorodu, said.

In Alaba Suru market, several traders were also willing to accept the new notes at the time of visit.

A grocery store owner in Satellite Town, who simply identified as Mama Twins, said she started accepting the notes since the apex bank had told them that they could transact with it.

“Since CBN has announced that we could collect the amount, I have started collecting it,” she said.

THE SCEPTICS

But some traders are still sceptical about collecting the old naira notes in spite of the CBN’s directive.

A student, who simply identified as Kunle, said some traders in Fagba, Lagos, were yet to fully embrace the acceptance of the old notes as legal tender.

“I was able to buy pepper from an ‘aboki’ seller. But other traders that sell petty items in the area did not collect the old notes,” Kunle told newsmen.

Similarly, some traders in various markets in the satellite towns of the federal capital territory (FCT) are also unsure about accepting the old naira notes.

According to NAN, some of the traders at Karu, Nyanya, and Mararaba Markets on Tuesday, said they would not accept the notes for any transaction until further notice.

“I am scared of collecting the old notes because I feel it will be rejected by the people I buy my goods from,” Beatrice Ibe, a tomatoes dealer at Nyanya Market, said.

“Yes, I heard that the CBN has directed that we should start to spend and accept the old notes but what about the people in the villages?

“Have they also heard about it? I doubt it.

“I am waiting for other traders in the market to start collecting or accepting the old notes before I will collect from my customers.”

Alphonsus Iguru, another trader at Mararaba Market, said he had some of the old N500 and N1,000 notes but yet to spend them.

Iguru appealed to the CBN to improve its sensitisation on the directive; saying that many people were yet to come to terms with the news.

“I have some of the old notes before but nobody agreed to collect them from me,” he said.

“We do not know what the CBN will say again tomorrow, I don’t want to collect from people now and tomorrow, it will be another story.”

CASH SHORTAGE — A PERSISTING CHALLENGE

Meanwhile, some banks at the time of visit were not dispensing the currency notes due to lack of cash.

An Access Bank branch in the Abule Ado area of Lagos, did not pay customers, citing unavailability of cash.

As at 8am on Thursday, the UBA branch mentioned earlier did not have cash to disburse, a security personnel to TheCable.

Yesterday, customers were able to withdraw N20,000, from the bank’s ATM. But they said the bank stopped issuing the old notes over the counter at about 1pm.

Business

Seven mistakes to avoid when starting online business

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Starting your own online business can be exhilarating, offering endless possibilities for growth and success. However, this path is also filled with challenges and obstacles.

Studies have also shown that 90% of online businesses fail within the first four months of operation. So it is important to navigate this entrepreneurial journey with caution and foresight.

Without further ado, here are common pitfalls to avoid while launching an online business.

  • Not having a clear business plan

Most people might think a business plan is not needed because it is an online business. That is not true. You need a plan for every type of business.

Not just a business plan but a clear and realistic one. Having a clear business plan gives you something to work with as a guide. It tells you what to do, why you’re doing it, how to do it, and when to do what you have to do.

With a business plan in place, it becomes easier and you will not get lost in setting up the business.

However, make the plan flexible and subject to changes just as you adjust your strategies as a newbie. Over time it’ll become well defined.

  • Neglecting market research

One of the most crucial steps in starting an online business is conducting thorough market research.

There are a lot of businesses in the social media space already so if you are not clear about your goals and target audience you might get lost.

So do thorough research to fully understand your target audience, competition, and market trends.

  • Neglecting financial needs

Online business owners might neglect financial plans because they do not need to pay for physical stores.

However, neglecting financial planning can make your business fail faster than expected. So be sure to prepare financial projections for your business, at least for the first 12 months.

You should also identify your business’ major funding sources and ensure there is an alternate source as well.

  • Not seeking help when needed

The earlier you accept you can not do all that is needed to start your business alone, the better.

You are a new entrepreneur so you may lack the expertise in certain areas critical to running a successful online business, such as marketing, finance, or technology. So why not seek help from experts or your older colleagues?

Failing to seek help from experts or mentors with the knowledge and experience can hinder your ability to make informed decisions and overcome challenges effectively.

Remember to network. Talk to people already in the business, attend workshops, and be open to partnerships.

Also, be open to learning. Learn from your initial missteps, and learn from experts and fellow entrepreneurs.

  • Ignoring the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plays a vital role in driving organic traffic to your page and improving your visibility in search engine results.

Many online entrepreneurs just post their products and fail to implement effective strategies to optimize the content.

However, making use of the best SEO practices will improve your visibility in search engine results, online visibility, and potential customer reach.

  • Believing more followers is more sales

When starting your online business, focus on more sales than followers.

Many online business owners focus heavily on getting new followers thinking when they have a large audience, sales will come.

However, having more followers does not mean you get more customers, especially when you do not have any market strategy to attract potential customers.

Instead of spending your time, energy, and money on getting followers, focus on nurturing relationships, boosting engagement with the right audience, and making them want to buy what you sell.

  • Poor customer service

Remember you are an online business owner so you need to make people trust you.

So, provide exceptional customer service that will enhance loyalty. One of the excuses most small business entrepreneurs give is that they are still small so they don’t need any serious customer service. Believing customer service is for bigger businesses.

However, this is a costly online business mistake you should avoid. So, enhance to provide good and seamless customer service if you want your business to be successful.

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Business

NDPC fines four banks, three companies N400m for data violation

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Nigeria Data Protection Commission (NDPC) says four banks and three other companies have faced sanctions and incurred fines totalling N400 million for infractions related to breaches of citizens’ data.

Vincent Olatunji, national commissioner of NDPC, made this known on Tuesday while reporting on the one-year implementation of the NDPC Act.

On June 14, 2023, President Bola Tinubu signed the Nigeria data protection bill into law.

In the legislation, the establishment of NDPC to replace the NDPB was introduced.

The commission is expected to protect citizens’ private information and be independent.

According to Olatunji, over the past year, more than 1000 financial institutions, schools, insurance companies, and consultancy firms have undergone investigations for breaches of citizens’ data.

He also said there are ongoing investigations concerning data infractions.

Olatunji also highlighted that the activities of the NDPC have led to increased levels of compliance with the Nigeria Data Protection Act in both the private and public sectors.

“When we started, the levels of compliance within the private sector was about 49 percent while the public sector was 4 percent. But today, private sector compliance is above 55, while the public sector has reached 15 percent,” Olatunji said.

“The nation’s data ecosystem is now worth over N10 billion and the commission considers it imperative to ensure that citizens’ data are safe, secure and protected in line with global best standards and practices.”

He further said Nigeria is now at the forefront of the activities of the global data assembly due to the Data Protection Act 2023 and the impact of the data ecosystem on the national economy as nations like Kenya, Ghana, China, Singapore, and Malaysia, among others now share experiences with Nigeria.

“The Data Protection Act 2023 is a major milestone for Nigeria. Mr President laid our apprehension to rest when he signed the Act on June 12, 2023,” he said.

“It was a major turnaround for the industry. Now the data ecosystem is beyond everybody because it is a global phenomenon due to the impact of technology.

“In terms of jobs and wealth creation, promotion of tourism, perception and attraction of foreign direct investments into Nigeria, we have taken a leapfrog and even overtaken some countries.

“And that’s why Nigeria was given the hosting right for 2024 All African Data Protection Commission’s and Institutions. About 30 countries will be here next year for the event.”

NDPC TO COLLABORATE WITH REGULATORS TO ENSURE COMPLIANCE WITH ACT

Olatunji said the NDPC now collaborates with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), and other regulatory organisations to make sure stakeholders under their supervision abide by the Data Protection Act.

According to Olatunji, capacity building, awareness raising, and stakeholder engagement have raised the bar for compliance within the ecosystem.

He also said to check the activities of digital loan platforms, the commission collaborated with CBN, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other regulatory authorities.

The national commissioner, however, said awareness would continue to be created for vulnerable Nigerians who become victims of the loan sharks due to ignorance.

Olatunji also said the country’s population and landmass are a challenge to a total clampdown on the digital loan sharks as most of them operate from isolated or remote areas without known addresses.

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FG to give transport unions 50% subsidy on CNG vehicle conversion kits

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The federal government says it will subsidise compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle conversion kits for members of transport unions.

Micheal Oluwagbemi, programme director and chief executive officer of the Presidential Initiative on CNG, said the government has procured over 20,000 conversion kits that will soon be deployed.

He said the conversion incentive programme will start with members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Road Transport Employer Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) and Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO).

“We are launching what we called the Conversion Incentive Programme with members of the NURTW, RTEAN, and NARTO being our immediate focus,” he said.

“This is because they are the operators in the road transport sector providing 90 per cent of the transportation in the country to members of the public.

Oluwagbemi said the conversion kits will be available to the transport unions at a 50 percent discount, adding that installation cost is free.

“We are already negotiating with our partners who will initiate that project in the next week,” he said.

“We have already identified eight conversion centres in four states, namely Kwara, Lagos FCT, and Rivers that will pilot the programme.”

On his part, Uba Sani, governor of Kaduna, commended the federal government’s initiative to help the union workers switch from petrol-powered vehicles to CNG-powered vehicles.

Sani, who was represented by Ibrahim Hamza, commissioner for works, said transportation is one of the major promoters of socio-economic activities in the state.

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Bodex F. Hungbo, SPMIIM is a multiple award-winning Nigerian Digital Media Practitioner, Digital Strategist, PR consultant, Brand and Event Expert, Tv Presenter, Tier-A Blogger/Influencer, and a top cobbler in Nigeria.

She has widespread experiences across different professions and skills, which includes experiences in; Marketing, Media, Broadcasting, Brand and Event Management, Administration and Management with prior stints at MTN, NAPIMS-NNPC, GLOBAL FLEET OIL AND GAS, LTV, Silverbird and a host of others

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