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CBN Gov proposes N100b tax on mobile phone users

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 Mobile phone users will be in for hard times if proposal by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele to the federal government to introduce mobile phone call tax becomes a reality.

The Governor, who broke the news at the 2016 Annual Bankers’ Dinner organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) on Friday night, in Lagos, said such tax, targeted at the middle, upper class and long phone call makers, can generate N100 billion annually into the federal government coffers.

Speaking on the theme: “Policy options for reversing Nigeria’s economic downturn” he said the country’s economy is currently facing a classical case of “stagflation” and although the 2016 budget is well on track to tackle it, there is need to boost revenue generation base though increased taxes.

He suggested that government could explore opportunities for more revenues to wriggle out of stagflation and recession by introducing a negligible telecom surcharge to be paid by initiator of a telephone call.

“There are several ways we can raise additional revenue to finance the increased expenditure that is needed to engender fast and sustainable growth in the economy. I think we can consider introducing a negligible telecom surcharge to be entirely borne by the initiator of a call. In order to protect the poor and vulnerable amongst us, we could structure it to only take effect after the third minute of talk. Some analyses have indicated that the government could earn about N100 billion per annum from this alone,” he stated.

Emefiele explained that the surcharge will mainly be borne by middle and upper class people since many poor people do not make calls for more than three minutes.

He explained that stagflation occurs when a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is falling or stagnant while unemployment and inflation are rising, all simultaneously.

“As recent data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) indicate, Nigeria’s GDP growth decelerated by 0.36 per cent and 2.1 per cent in the first and second quarters of 2016, respectively. More also, the rate of price inflation for the months of September and October were 17.9 per cent and 18.3 per cent, respectively, while official statistics also indicate that the country’s unemployment rate increased to 12.1 per cent and 13.3 per cent during the first and second quarters,” he stated.

Emefiele said that stagflation is a difficult condition for policymakers to deal with, insisting that no single macroeconomic policy can address rising inflation and slow growth simultaneously, because fighting inflation may require implementing policies that might, in the short term, be inimical to economic growth, whereas expansionary policies to stimulate growth usually worsen inflation.

Still on taxes, the CBN boss said government could also consider introducing minimal property taxes across the country. “This not only raises money for the government but also could be a veritable weapon against corruption since it creates a database of who really owns homes in this country. Another option to consider would be to fully implement the 2003 Cabotage Act. This is Act stipulates that all cargoes and passengers in the inland and coastal waters be transported by ships and ferries built, owned, crewed and manned by Nigerians,” he said.

Emefiele explained that contrary to the requirement of this Act, there are several foreign-owned vessels providing shipping services locally. “Out of about 600 ships that operate within our waters, only about 60 of them are owned by Nigerians and are mostly idle, in violation of the Act. Industry sources suggest Nigeria may be losing as much as N2 trillion annually from this anomaly. In addition to raising revenue, a full implementation of the Act could also spur job creation, capacity building, and significant backward integration,” he said.

Speaking further, he said that exchange rate is simply a price that is determined by the forces of demand and supply.

He said that while the proposal may seem controversial, variants of this policy have proven to be highly effective in other climes and even here in Nigeria. “For example, throughout the early days of South Korea’s economic renaissance, the government intermittently used excessively stiff tariffs, quantitative restrictions and prohibitive inland taxes to effectively ban many items with potential for high imports, and simultaneously, offered generous and subsidized loans to firms for export promotion causes. In fact, at some point, about 93 per cent of total imports into South Korea were subject to one or more such restrictions,” he said.

Emefiele admitted that interest rates are a veritable tool for curtailing inflation but with inflation at over 18 per cent, the regulator would be abjectly failing on one of its cardinal objectives if it cuts interest rates at this time. “Second, for those who say we need a rate cut to spur growth, we need to remind that high inflation is highly inimical to economic growth. Indeed, many empirical studies have estimated the threshold level at which inflation becomes significantly growth retarding to be 11 per cent for developing countries. With ours at 18.3 per cent, one must question the judgment of cutting interest rates at this time,” he said.

The CBN Governor insisted that interest rates reflect not just the cost of capital but also the cost of doing business, hence, the need to also look at interest rates from the perspective of the lender. “Given that most banks have to individually provide security, power, and other infrastructure, it is not surprising that some of these costs are passed on to customers in the form of high interest rates. Notwithstanding these facts, we will continue to use moral suasion to encourage commercial banks to be more considerate in interest charges on customers,” he stated.

 

The post CBN Gov proposes N100b tax on mobile phone users appeared first on The Nation Nigeria.

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Banking / Insurance

Curacel unveils Grow, enabling any technology company to seamlessly offer insurance

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Curacel team (Image: Supplied)

Curacel, the leading African insurance infrastructure startup, has launched Curacel Grow. An embedded insurance product that empowers technology companies to seamlessly offer insurance as part of their existing products and services. The startup is also part of the Winter 2022 cohort of Silicon Valley’s prestigious Y Combinator accelerator, joining the growing list of successful African startups that have participated in and benefitted from the program.

Curacel is launching Grow to support more effective distribution of insurance to millions of Africans through partners like Barter by Flutterwave, Float, Payhippo and other leading technology companies. The startup will also enable seamless embedding of insurance in customer user journeys. With Curacel Grow, airlines will be able to offer travel insurance to their customers through simple APIs. Automotive dealers will also be able to seamlessly sell insurance to customers as a value-added service. Curacel has built its market leading infrastructure that powers claims and fraud protection for forward thinking insurers like AXA Mansard and Old Mutual. And this expansive network of underwriters enables the distribution of insurance at scale.

Insurance penetration in Africa currently stands at less than 3 percent, with most policies sold offline and manually via brokers and agents. This cumbersome process makes insurance products expensive and out of reach for many price-sensitive Africans. As a result, market penetration of insurance products in Africa is half of the global average and premiums per capita are 11 times lower than the global average. The insurance industry in Africa also represents less than one percent of insured catastrophe losses worldwide. Although it’s home to almost 17 percent of the global population. This suggests that there is significant scope for growth.

With Grow, insurers can accelerate the distribution of their products by taking advantage of Curacel’s technology to easily embed insurance within other digital experiences in a more accessible way. Technology companies can also increase their recurring revenue by offering the protection their consumers need without the hassle of finding integration and negotiating terms with insurers and brokers. The solution is designed to integrate seamlessly with any technology platform and Curacel’s AI-powered infrastructure means claims can be submitted and processed in real time.

Commenting on the new product, Henry Mascot, CEO and co-founder of Curacel, said, “risk protection is a major consideration for Africa’s growing middle class. As it becomes easier to access credit and other financial services to enable new experiences. We want to make it easier to protect these experiences and enjoy them with full confidence. The success of various technology companies over the years has opened the door to many previously underserved people. And we want to take advantage of this to accelerate the penetration of much needed insurance products across the continent.”

Curacel has a presence in 8 countries across Africa, enabling insurers to connect with digital distribution channels and administer their claims cost-effectively.

 

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Microinsurance is driving greater financial inclusion, says aYo Ghana CEO

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There has been a ‘material increase’ in awareness of financial service products like microinsurance during 2021, with growing numbers of Ghanaian consumers purchasing cover to protect themselves and their families in the event of hospitalisation or loss of life.

Francis Gota, the CEO of microinsurer aYo Intermediaries Ghana Limited, says the company has seen a strong increase in its customer base since the start of the pandemic, with more than 6 million customers on its books at the beginning of November. It expects to add another 1.8 million customers in 2022. The company offers Hospitalisation and Life Insurance Cover through its two insurance products, ‘Send with Care’ and ‘Recharge with Care’.

In 2020, the company paid claims of about GH¢2.4 million to more than 8,000 customers.

“Microinsurance is dispelling the myth that insurance is just for the wealthy, educated, and formal-sector employees. Today, every Ghanaian consumer can purchase insurance on the go, using their mobile phones. Phone penetration and technological advancements are making it much easier to reach clients and provide better, more cost-effective service,” said Mr Gota.

Microinsurance is seen as a powerful enabler of financial inclusion in African markets, providing a much-needed social safety net that helps vulnerable people and particularly people with low incomes to stay afloat when the unexpected happens.

“Covid has made many people aware that tomorrow is not promised. As a result, many consumers have a better appreciation for insurance now, and this given us an opportunity to help protect more people than ever before, by providing cover against unexpected life events,” said Mr Gota.

Over 6 million subscribers are currently using aYo’s Recharge with Care product, which offers life and hospital insurance cover every time customers recharge their MTN airtime. Customers can get up to GH¢120 for each night they are admitted to hospital, and up to GH¢6,000 life cover for themselves and one family member who is registered on the policy.

How to sign up

For Recharge with Care, subscribers sign up via app.ayo4u.com or by dialling *296#, selecting option 1 and following the prompts. They can sign up for MyLife, MyHospital, or both. A maximum premium of GH¢6.00 provides cover that is valid for 30 days. Subscribers use the same process for filing claims (*296#, option 1, option 7, and follow the prompts.) Valid claims are paid directly to the claimant’s mobile money wallet.

MTN MoMo subscribers can send MoMo through aYo Send with Care by dialling *170#, select option 1 (transfer money) and then option 3 (Send with Care) on the mobile money menu. This will give them up to GH¢30,000.00 hospital and life insurance cover for themselves, and up to GH¢3,000.00 life cover for their family members (the receivers of the MoMo).

 

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aYo partners with MTN to launch insurance for all Ivorians

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Panel Guests: From the left: Laurent Koffi Senior Manager Segments Mobile Financial Service of MTN Cote d’lvoire; Jean-Charles N’Gotta CEO of aYo Cote d’lvoire; Marius Botha Group CEO of aYo Holdings; Philippe Attobra CEO of Sanlam Assurance Vie (Image: Karli Stock)

aYo Holdings, African microinsurance fintech together with telecommunications giant MTN and Sanlam Life has launched two innovative insurance products in Côte d’Ivoire that will contribute towards MTN subscribers enjoying peace of mind.

CEO of aYo Intermediaries Cote d’Ivoire Limited, Jean-Charles N’Gotta, said: “It is estimated that less than 2% of the Ivorian population currently has insurance. This is because most people think insurance is only for white collar workers with high incomes. We want to show that with aYo services, people with all levels of income can get peace of mind at an affordable cost to help take care of their financial health even after hospital bills due to an accident or illness, or their funeral expenses if the unforeseen happens and they pass away.”

Two basic products will be available at launch once consumers sign up to aYo:

aYo Recharge+ rewards MTN MoMo (Mobile Money) users by offering free accidental hospitalisation cover and life cover each time customers purchase airtime via MoMo. Customers can also take advantage of the AutoBoost, paid-for, functionality to get even more cover with every MTN airtime recharge.

With the free component of aYo Recharge+, each time a customer uses their MoMo wallet to recharge airtime, they get 8 times that amount as accident cover and 12 times that amount as life cover. When they take advantage of AutoBoost to buy additional cover (from 25 CFA to 300 CFA), this amount is multiplied by 200 for additional accident hospitalisation cover and by 300 for additional life cover.

aYo Kash+ offers cover for illness and accidental hospitalisations as well as life cover each time a consumer sends money, pays utility bills or school fees via MTN MoMo. Each time a customer makes a person-to-person money transfer or pays a bill using MTN MoMo, they get illness cover equal to the amount they spend in that transaction, accident and life covers for three times the amount transacted by paying a 5% premium. When they pay school fees using MTN MoMo, they get life cover for twice the amount transacted by paying a 2% premium.

Getting cover and claiming is as easy as using the aYo progressive web app from your mobile phone by visiting www.ayo.co.ci. Signing up, interacting, and claiming all happens without the need for any physical paperwork. When claiming, the required documents can be attached and sent via WhatsApp too.

aYo launched in January 2017 in Uganda and has reached more than 14 million customers across Uganda, Ghana and Zambia. The company has paid in excess of over $1 million in claims.

“Insurance, and the peace of mind it provides, has become more important than ever in today’s fast-paced world, where risks are a part of our daily lives. You never know when you will have to pay to get back on your feet after an accident or an illness. Often, the cost is so large that it goes beyond your immediate financial capacity, and that is where aYo and our innovative products will be most helpful,” said Jean-Charles N’Gotta.

 

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