By Our Reporters
Ifie Sekibo, Managing Director, Heritage Bank, appears to have found a way out to facilitate ease access to credit by businessmen and investors in Banks without going through challenges. The Rivers state born Banker has anchored it on proper management of the country’s Identity Card , ID,, by the relevant government agencies, saddled with the responsibility to do so.
An elated Sekibo, noted that the Bank Verification Number, BVN, which was initiated by the government some couple of years ago and implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN,, has been to create a form of identification in the country as it has been able to address some of the issues around Identity Card Management in the country.
Note that one of the major problems that had been encountered by most Banks in the past was how to track Customers who to took loans and relocate from one place to another without notifying the Bank which had danced him the Credit of the change of location. This may have led to the collapse of many Banks in the country over the last one decade.
According to him, the ‘’dearth of effective and standard identity card management infrastructure in the country had made access to credit facilities in Banks very difficult for Small and Medium Scale Industries, SMEs.
Given an insider information, he noted that if Banks officials could know easily know where Customers live in different parts of the country for easy identification, access to credit in Banks may no longer be a major issue to contend with by SMEs and other Customers , as ‘’everyone will be getting loan with ease as the Customer may not be tempted to run way with Bank loan for fear of being caught wherever he may be in any part of the country.
An aggrieved Sekibo, noted that in the past, people took loan from Banks and change Accommodation, say from Lagos to Iban, in Oyo state , to escape any further communications with the Bank until the loan becomes bad debt and subsequently cancelled.
It is not surprising why the Heritage Bank Managing Director, has made it clear to those that cares to listen that this must change for the nation’s Banking Industry to move forward. He allude to what obtains in Europe , United States and other Industrialised nations where once a Bank Customer misbehaves, but with his ID, he may no longer be allowed to Bank as his credit quickly goes bad . His case was made worse as he could have access to hospital if he has a health challenge or give any member of his immediate family needed financial assistance .
This may have informed why he had stressed that that there is value in ID Management., ‘’ It is not just about Banks but a holistic structure where is no value to the person that each one represent’’, he had said.
There are indications that the Banks are already pushing the government to come out with some form of ID Management system as the BVN, which had been operational over the last four years had proved to be ineffective in addressing the problem of the ID constraining lending in the country.
The United Bank For Africa, UBA plc, a pan African Bank , may have overcome these perennial problem of ID card management over the years. Tony Elumelu, the Bank Chairman, may have realised the problem , early enough that he quickly endowed 100 million Foundation for a revolving loan for S MEs across the African Continent for a 10-year period under a different management. The Foundation is billed to empower to 10,000 young Entrepreneurs in the African Continent in the next 10 years
Given the popularity of the Foundation in African Continent in the circles of SMEs, it was learnt since its inception, it has received over 65,000 applications for the 10,000 limited spaces for the programme .
Records show that the Foundation has s far empowered over 7, 520 , young Entrepreneurs , across the 54 African countries. Of the over 2000 exhibitors, expected in this year’s Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI and UBA plc partnered Trade Fair, from 16 African countries, most of them were said to have been beneficiaries of the Tony Elumelu Foundation