The real arguments for Nigeria’s Digital Banks

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If you live in Nigeria, you’ve probably heard some stories about how difficult it is to get anything done at a government agency. Those stories are so popular that they have made their way into popular culture through “Oga is not on seat” jokes.

When you’re going to a government agency, you brace yourself for the reality that no matter how small the task you want to accomplish, it could take all day. It’s not unusual for simple processes to be complicated by ridiculous demands.

It’s the sort of thing we’ve come to expect from Nigeria’s public sector. Yet, in the private sector, Nigeria’s legacy banks will give any government institution a run for their money. A few weeks ago, I read this interesting rant by a Nigerian in the UK Guardian on how it took him 15 trips to the banking hall to withdraw money.

The real arguments for Nigeria’s Digital Banks
Afolabi Sotunde Illustration Naira The real arguments for Nigeria’s Digital Banks |

We all have these experiences. The Nigerian banking system throws up the kind of processes that can test the patience of the Pope. Sometimes you apply to get a debit card and you wait for weeks to get. Then you begin another process to get the PIN for the same debit card.

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Some other issues that rankle are the unending debts for card maintenance, SMS alerts, the list is endless. Yet, these would be such small trade-offs if Nigerian banks actually provide services that work and are reliable. Bank transfers in Nigeria are like Russian roulette.

Sometimes you can transfer money without hassles, the next time, you may get debited thrice for a failed transaction.

Frankly, I’m not sure which I would rather visit: a banking hall or a government parastatal. If banking is this difficult for me, what’s it like for a lot of the people in the informal sector?

I got the clearest answer last week when my friend shared an article about how many of the artisans who work for him often do not have bank accounts. It’s hard to fault them because banks and banking have come to represent stressors for the average person.

Digital banks are promising freedom

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This is why the Digital alternative to banking is interesting. The counterbalance to the wahala of legacy banking is a bank that exists almost entirely in your phone.

They have no physical branches so you don’t have to spend hours in a banking hall trying to explain to a frazzled customer rep that you can no longer reproduce your signature from when you first opened the account seven years ago.

But beyond the branchless structure of digital banks, one of the things Digital banks like VBank say that works for me are their promise of banking without a ton of bank charges. I can be free from those pesky little card maintenance charges from that second-generation bank.

The real arguments for Nigeria’s Digital Banks
The real arguments for Nigeria’s Digital Banks |

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I can make a request for a debit card from an app and get the card delivered to my address in one week.

It’s not often that a bank says all the right things. Yet, there are lingering questions like, “can I put my money in a bank that doesn’t have a branch that I know?”, “Whose shirt will I hold when they debit my account wrongly?.”

There are also big questions like; many of the promises of ease the digital banks make will appeal to the carpenter down your street who still doesn’t have a bank account. How will digital banks reach people like this?

Can the segment of the population who find these promises of freedom attractive- young millennials – form the basis for a sustainable business?

These are questions that remain up in the air, but here’s what I know; VBank makes really good promises, but the real argument for them is time. Will they still send my debit card in 4 business days in 2027? Will my free transfers still go through and will their customer reps still be as attentive?

I don’t have a crystal ball, but it doesn’t hurt to live in the moment and enjoy all these perks right away.

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The real arguments for Nigeria’s Digital Banks - Brand SpurThe real arguments for Nigeria’s Digital Banks - Brand Spur

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The real arguments for Nigeria’s Digital Banks - Brand SpurThe real arguments for Nigeria’s Digital Banks - Brand Spur

Latest News

Vivocom’s Group Game Changer – Multi-Billion Sand Project Secured

  • Initial contract worth RM3.79 billion for three years
  • Aspires to be a major industry player 'with exponential growth prospects'

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - Media OutReach - 26 February 2021 - In a filing to Bursa Malaysia this evening, Vivocom Intl Holdings Berhad ('Vivocom') announced that V Development Group via one of its subsidiaries has secured a 'massive win' worth approximately USD934.7 million or the equivalent of RM3.79 billion.

Read Also:  Infinix Mobility launches exclusive stores in Nigeria

Rain International Sdn Bhd ('Rain International') is a 97% owned subsidiary under the V Development Group which was recently merged into the Vivocom Group. The Company's proposed acquisition of V Development Group had been recently approved by the relevant authorities.

Rain International is principally involved in the mineral trading and exportation business, supplying sand to its client mainly in Hong Kong and China for reclamation and construction works. The Company had recently signed a contract for the supply of marine sand for a minimum period of three years.

The contract is for the supply of sand to Zhen Hua Engineering Company Ltd-China Communications Construction Company Ltd-CCCC Dredging (Group) Company Ltd. (ZHEC-CCCC-CDC), a Joint Venture contractor appointed to undertake the main reclamation works for the Hong Kong International Airport Three Runway System Project.

Director Mr William Chan Ching-Kee said: "As the appointed agent for the ZHECC-CCCC-CDC Joint Venture, we are looking forward to the exportation of sand from Malaysia to our client in Hong Kong to commence without any further delay."

Dato Seri Chia is optimistic that the contract would be extended for another two to three years and could potentially generate revenue of up to RM6 billion.

"The sand business is a major boost because it gives us tremendous visibility. The potential revenue is huge, recurring and highly scalable," its jubilant CEO, Dato Seri Chia Kok Teong exclaimed.

"The potential for explosive growth in the sand business is real and tangible, and bodes well for the Group in the next few years."

"We are starting with 3 years but the contract can easily be increased to 5 years and beyond, with higher tonnage shipped every 6 months. The exportation of sand will increase sharply over time," he added.

Besides the reclamation works for the Hong Kong International Airport, the rapid pace of construction and reclamation works in China and Singapore also requires heavy demand for sand, which is a considerable boon to Malaysia.

"The market for sand export is extremely humongous and will fuel the Group's rapid growth for the next several years. The RM3.79 billion Win is the first of many more to come."

"I have in fact urged my team to secure up to RM10 billion worth of sand contracts by the end of 2021. This is part of our overall transformation strategy to become a multi billions conglomerate," declared Dato Seri Chia.

"It is our core strategy to strengthen and diversify the Group's revenues generation capabilities and capacities and not be too narrowly focussed."

"Presently, we are already in negotiations for another RM2 to RM3 billion sand contract. Once finalised, we will make the relevant announcement as per Bursa Malaysia's requirements," Dato Seri Chia elaborated.

The sand would be procured from an approved permit holder to export sand overseas, and sourced from concession areas in Sandakan and Sungai Beluran in Sabah and throughout Malaysia.

"Even with this massive sand contract already secured, we will not be complacent. I have earlier promised to transform Vivocom into a behemoth Conglomerate and I will work non-stop to deliver on the promise," Dato Seri assured.

Since Dato Seri Chia's entry into Vivocom in January 2020 when its price was at 15 cents, the share has climbed sharply and last closed at RM1.06 on Thursday, 25th February 2021.

"I am very optimistic that Vivocom shares will continue to grow strongly and be worth a lot more than presently over time. I'm proud to say that we are no longer a penny stock," he reflected.

"My team is totally committed to building Vivocom into a reputable and profitable public company, one with solid fundamentals, sustainable profits and healthy cashflows."

"As a priority, we will work towards getting the Group elevated to the Main Board of Bursa Malaysia and be a dividends-paying company soonest possible," quipped Dato Seri.

To show his commitment, Dato Seri Chia has undertaken a voluntary self--imposed moratorium (or SIM) in that he will not dispose his personal stakes in Vivocom for the next 3 years. This will ensure the company's long-term price stability and sustainability.

"We want a stable and strong share price so that the Company can use its shares with its high liquidity as a currency for M&A activities to fund and fast-track expansion and growth," he explained.

"A strong share with high liquidity is a most valuable and prized asset. We will use it to buy Companies with game-changing and disruptive strategies. To look for the Next Big Thing."

"The enormous followings in the Company are what is driving in tremendous liquidity and momentum giving our share price added impetus," Dato Seri proudly asserts.

"We aspire to emulate Berkshire Hathaway strategy started over 40 years ago by Mr Warren Buffet. Mr Masayoshi Son built SoftBank Group of Japan along the same philosophy and Alphabet in US adopted similar strategies."

"These three companies are presently amongst the most valuable and admired companies in the world. I have the same dream for Vivocom. I am determined to leave behind an enduring legacy for all our valued shareholders," concluded Dato Seri Chia.

The real arguments for Nigeria’s Digital Banks - Brand Spur
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