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Stanbic IBTC: Financing Nigeria’s burgeoning shopping malls revolution

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Stanbic IBTC: Financing Nigeria’s burgeoning shopping malls revolution

Euphoria and superlatives flowed freely recently as hundreds of Nigerians thronged the Amuwo Odofin area of Lagos state to witness the formal opening of Festival Mall, a sprawling shopping complex in Festac Town, Lagos, owned by UACN Property Development Company Plc, Africa Capital Alliance and UPDC Real Estate Investment Trust.

Indicative of the growing pace of Nigeria’s retail space, hitherto dominated by large traditional markets, the new mall, sitting on 8.7 hectares, symbolizes an evolving transformative trend in the country due to the multiplier effect on the economy. Among others, it will boost job creation; improve the retail goods supply chain, and engender reduction in crime and poverty rates through employment and empowerment, while bringing development closer to local communities.

This optimism was succinctly captured by Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, governor of Lagos State, when he noted that private sector investment would be crucial in attaining substantial increases in productivity levels, wealth creation and socio-economic wellbeing.

With Shoprite and Silverbird Cinemas as anchor tenants, the facility was developed with a $9 million bridge facility part-funding from Stanbic IBTC Bank to commence the development phase. The bank subsequently refinanced this amount with the provision of a seven-year $25 million medium term loan facility, representing 50 percent of the total project cost. In addition, the lender provided additional support via transactional banking and hedging product to further enhance the project feasibility.

Speaking during the opening ceremony, then Deputy Managing Director now Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Dr Demola Sogunle, expressed the bank’s delight to be involved in the landmark project, which he described as a continuation of the Standard Bank Group’s tradition of funding crucial developmental projects in Nigeria and across Africa.

“We are committed to supporting infrastructure development of all types, including real estate. We are delighted to be a part of this landmark transaction that would significantly boost the retail offering in Lagos, and in so doing, drive growth in the interlinked sectors such as agriculture, logistics, finance, entertainment and technology, among others, thereby creating job opportunities and an outlet for the growth of local enterprise within the country,” Sogunle stated.

He said despite the difficult operating environment, debt funding was secured for the project, adding that the bank provided additional support via transactional banking and hedging products to further enhance project feasibility. The transaction structure, which allows quarterly rental payments and a bullet repayment at maturity, has helped in easing the cash burden on tenants, supporting new businesses that may otherwise struggle with lump sum upfront rental payments.

Under construction in almost every major city in the country is a mall. Conspicuous is a steady transition from pavement shopping and the corner stores in urban neighbourhoods and large unorganized trading clusters, to large, organized supermarkets that offer numerous options to shoppers. Besides plain shopping, malls come with some glamour, offer a good place to eat and hang out with family and friends, while forming an impression of community with the movement of different groups of people around the vicinity.

The steady emergence of malls as economic centers has been instrumental to the exponential growth in Nigeria’s electronic payment system via the deployment of POS terminals at the malls. This has in turn boosted the cashless policy in Nigeria as an increasing number of Nigerians use their cards to make transactions.

The rise of Nigeria’s middle class, emboldened by increasing economic opportunities, has triggered considerable consumer spending that is driving the need for shopping malls where world-class products and services will be available, all under one roof.

Shoprite, Africa’s largest retailer, is currently expanding its presence in Nigeria with over 700 outlets in mind. Shoprite’s Chief Executive, Whitey Basson, stated in an interview with Reuters that, “Nigeria can support the same number of supermarkets as South Africa,” considering the sustainability of steadily growing the nation’s population of upwardly mobile individuals.

In the mix is Spar, the world’s largest food retailer, with about 20,000 stores in 35 countries, which has also opened nine stores in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. Not left out is U.S. retailer Wal-Mart, which bought majority stake in South African retailer Massmart, citing growth prospects in Africa, with Nigeria as key target. From the local scene are Addide, Goodies, Justrite, and Park ‘n’ Shop, which are rapidly expanding retail footprints in medium income neighbourhoods across the country.

Until now, Dubai, South Africa, and UK had become preferred travel destinations for Nigerians seeking a good bargain, convenience and pleasure. In 2014, Nigerian shoppers were the fourth-biggest contributor to overseas tax-free shopping in the UK, according to Global Blue, a tourism services provider, just behind China, Russia and the Middle East. Suits, formal wear, jewellery, cosmetics and children’s wear topped the list on the West Africans’ shopping priorities.

The scramble abroad has a number of underlining anchors. Apart from the competitive prices, these destinations offer an irresistible attraction in shopping, a well-documented indulgent among Nigerians which some social commentators have labeled a growing religion with the mall as its cathedral. The bulk of its adherents, they say, are women haggling for clothing, perfumes, cosmetics, shoes, exotic accessories and other products.

In those shores they are availed the benefits of first-world shopping environment with shopping malls and centers providing a seductive mixture of glamour and comfort, as well as a variety of quality goods and services. The preference for expensive foreign trips may appear wasteful, but the local environment essentially underpins this indulgence, until recently.

Among others, an unwillingness by investors, upended by the recent global economic turbulence, has stagnated investment in property development in Nigeria, resulting in a fewer number of malls being opened.

However, an overview of the role of shopping malls in commerce will help underscore their importance in the development of an economy. The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) defines the shopping mall as ‘a group of retail and other commercial establishments that is planned, developed, owned and managed as a single property, with on-site parking provided. The center’s size and orientation are generally determined by the market characteristics of the trade area served by the center. The three main physical configurations of shopping centers are malls, open-air centers, and hybrid centers.” Another definition describes the shopping mall as a building or group of buildings containing stores, which are connected by walkways so that consumers can easily walk between the stores. Such malls can be built in an enclosed or open-air format.

In essence, shopping malls may be likened to factories where special facilities have been established for the purpose of commerce through the provision of a wide variety of goods and services. A well-appointed shopping mall plays host to a variety of tenants featuring well known international and national retail brands providing goods and services required by all segments of society. The Palms in Lagos, for instance, is home to several foreign brands such as Shoprite, Game and Nando’s.

The financing and completion of the Festival Mall and others before it, such as Grand Towers Abuja Mall, Ikeja City Mall, and Enugu Polo Park Mall, as well as the other malls across the country highlights the effectiveness of public private partnership, with the capacity to redefine the modern retailing business in Nigeria. Interestingly, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Standard Bank funded the aforementioned malls, in what the Chief Executive described as a reinforcement of a dogged determination to expand its real estate business across Nigeria. “We are proud to be instrumental to a development that would significantly boost the retail offering in Nigeria and in so doing, help create job opportunities and an outlet for the growth of local enterprise within the country.”

Definitely, with the contemporary urban feel that comes with picturesque architectural designs, the transparent façade that invites interest during daytime and glowing beacons at night, these malls will ultimately become commercial hubs for millions of visitors from across the country. Nigerians will ultimately enjoy quality shopping experience resulting from the convenience of having so many stores and services in one location. In facilitating the transaction between consumer demands and industrial production, the shopping mall comes across as a cornerstone of the modern service economy.

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How payments can help streamline operations and boost customer satisfaction in the vending industry

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How payments can help streamline operations and boost customer satisfaction in the vending industry 1

By Darren Anderson, Business Development Manager, Self Service, Ingenico Enterprise Retail

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an astounding impact on the payments industry, causing cash usage to plummet as contactless and card-not-present volumes soared. Of course, this phenomenon was not unforeseen by payments professionals, who had predicted such a movement away from cash, but not at the speed the virus guidelines facilitated. In fact, due in part to the hygiene perks of contactless payment methods increasing its adoption, 50% of customers think that cash will disappear completely at some point in the future.

The unattended market was ahead of the pandemic in terms of contactless alternative payment method (APM) adoption, and it continues to upgrade its offerings to suit a wider range of industries. Nevertheless, the pain point for vending operators is that they’re often not sure exactly how these technologies work, or how to implement them. And with payments offerings constantly evolving, it’s becoming harder for vending operators to know which solution would be the best fit for their business.

As such, one easy way for vending operators to ease this load is to partner with a knowledgeable payments advisor who can not only provide the best solutions for their business, but guide them through the process and any need-to-knows. It’s also important to investigate the payments trends across the vending market, what the future might bring and what vending operators need to know about newer payments technology and the value it can bring to their unattended retail business operations.

Vending through the pandemic

Coronavirus has impacted the unattended market in various ways. In some cases, vending machine use has decreased as a result of lower footfall and closed premises. However, the nature of vending being self-service, for many it’s just been a case of upgrading systems to meet new guidelines and hygiene recommendations to start boosting their usage again. As cash usage decreased over the course of the pandemic, cards and APMs stepped in to provide a host of benefits, and as customers use and enjoy these seamless technologies, they are fast becoming the preference.

These developments have provided the opportunity for vending operators to embrace newer technologies which, although ultimately positive, can prove daunting if such retailers are not accustomed to working closely with payments. Fortunately, the vending market is in a great position to take advantage of new contactless technologies, being already low on human interaction and having 24/7 capabilities.

Darren Anderson

Darren Anderson

What’s more, the market can not only cater to consumers’ evolving needs, but it can also provide the flexibility and reliability that consumers are relying on as the world around them is changing. Many new technologies can also improve the general operations and management of vending, offering features such as easier on-the-go stock management and maintenance notification technology.

Keeping the consumer in mind

Consumers today want to enjoy the latest innovations and best-in-class customer experiences. These shoppers believe that self-service is a time-saver, and they also view cashless and contactless as faster and more seamless ways to pay – a fact which is reflected in the recent consumer demand for a wider variety of APMs. Customers now expect even more options to pay for their goods and services, from QR codes, to in-app payments and more.

Alongside the cashless trend, data-security and customer experience are two other factors driving the vending market evolution. With constantly evolving fraud developments in the online world, good security is more pertinent than ever, and has to be a central consideration to vending operators – as well as ensuring a seamless customer experience.

From a customer usage standpoint, mobile payments are becomingly increasing popular, as driven by the Gen Z market. According to our research, 63% of Gen Zers have said they would pay more for a mobile experience[1].

Trust and a good experience are also considerable factors across all customer groups, with 95% of customers claiming their loyalties lie with a company they trust[2], and 86% willing to pay more for a positive experience[3].

To appeal to ever-hungry consumers, vending operators need to provide the options they want. In the unattended market, this is relatively simple – not only do they provide a convenient and reliable method of payment for customers, but they also avoid face-to-face interaction. They can also supply a range of different products and accept a variety of payment methods to appeal to all customers, no matter their preference.

Using payments to drive revenue

Driving revenue is a two-pronged approach – you need to appeal to customers to keep them coming, and streamline operations to reduce overheads. In order to meet both parties’ expectations, it’s important to respond well to new vending challenges, taking note of the solutions that enable merchants to provide their customers with the payment methods they prefer.

Payments are complicated, so there’s no need to worry if you’re not hugely familiar with the offering out there, or unsure where to start – that’s where a payment service provider (PSP) can assist. With the expertise that a PSP brings, along with the technological solutions they offer, vending operators can improve customer journeys in all unattended environments.

Such technological solutions are flexible and can cater to specific business needs, while providing easy, quick, and secure payment methods that protect both the business and the customer’s personal data. They can also improve operational efficiency, increasing business performance with features such as real-time reporting and smart transaction management, to provide a best-in-class customer experience.

With smart devices, a secure gateway and advanced acquiring capabilities, PSPs can help vending operators design a flexible vending solution tailored to their individual and specific needs. To find out more about unattended retail and how your company can benefit from Ingenico’s unique expert knowledge, get in contact with Ingenico Enterprise Retail today at www.ingenico.com/smartselfvending.

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ISO 20022 migration: full speed ahead despite recent delays, says new Deutsche Bank paper

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ISO 20022 migration: full speed ahead despite recent delays, says new Deutsche Bank paper 2

Today, Deutsche Bank has released the third installment in its “Guide to ISO 20022 migration series, which offers a comprehensive update on the industry shift to the de facto global standard for financial messaging: ISO 20022. This paper comes at a critical time for the ISO 20022 migration, with a number of changes to existing timelines and strategies from SWIFT and the world’s major market infrastructures having been announced this year.

The paper explores the latest developments, including SWIFT’s year-long postponement of the migration in the correspondent banking space. The decision meets industry calls for a delay and also provides ample time to build the new central Transaction Management Platform (TMP) – a core feature of SWIFT’s new strategy that will allow the industry to move away from point-to-point messaging and towards central transaction processing.

It also details the wave of action that has been seen by market infrastructures around the world – with many, including the ECB, EBA CLEARING and the Bank of England, announcing revised migration approaches.

“Now more than ever, with shifting timelines and strained resources, it is vital that banks and corporates alike do not view the ISO 20022 migration as just another project that can be put on the back burner,” says Christian Westerhaus, Head of Cash Products, Cash Management, Deutsche Bank. “The delays in the correspondent banking space, and across several market infrastructures, should not be seen as an opportunity for banks to take their foot off the pedal. The journey to ISO 20022 is still moving ahead at speed – and internal projects need to reflect this.”

The Guide also highlights the implementation issues on the migration journey ahead – most notably surrounding interoperability between market infrastructures, usage guidelines and messaging formats. This is achieved through a series of deep dives, case studies, and points of attention drawn from Deutsche Bank’s internal analysis.

 “As this year has proved, nothing is set in stone, “says Paula Roels, Head of Market Infrastructure & Industry Initiatives, Deutsche Bank. “The ISO 20022 migration involves a lot of moving parts and keeping abreast of the latest developments is critical for banks and corporates alike. As the deadlines near, and the ISO 20022 story develops, this series of guides will continue to highlight key points for consideration over the coming years.”

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The Psychology Behind a Strong Security Culture in the Financial Sector

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The Psychology Behind a Strong Security Culture in the Financial Sector 3

By Javvad Malik, Security Awareness Advocate at KnowBe4

Banks and financial industries are quite literally where the money is, positioning them as prominent targets for cybercriminals worldwide. Unfortunately, regardless of investments made in the latest technologies, the Achilles heel of these institutions is their employees. Often times, a human blunder is found to be a contributing factor of a security breach, if not the direct source. Indeed, in the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, miscellaneous errors were found vying closely with web application attacks for the top cause of breaches affecting the financial and insurance sector. A secretary may forward an email to the wrong recipient or a system administrator may misconfigure firewall settings. Perhaps, a user clicks on a malicious link. Whatever the case, the outcome is equally dire.

Having grown acutely aware of the role that people play in cybersecurity, business leaders are scrambling to establish a strong security culture within their own organisations. In fact, for many leaders across the globe, realising a strong security culture is of increasing importance, not solely for fear of a breach, but as fundamental to the overall success of their organisations – be it to create customer trust or enhance brand value. Yet, the term lacks a universal definition, and its interpretation varies depending on the individual. In one survey of 1,161 IT decision makers, 758 unique definitions were offered, falling into five distinct categories. While all important, these categories taken apart only feature one aspect of the wider notion of security culture.

With an incomplete understanding of the term, many organisations find themselves inadvertently overconfident in their actual capabilities to fend off cyberthreats. This speaks to the importance of building a single, clear and common definition from which organisations can learn from one another, benchmark their standing and construct a comprehensive security programme.

Defining Security Culture: The Seven Dimensions

In an effort to measure security culture through an objective, scientific method, the term can be broken down into seven key dimensions:

  • Attitudes: Formed over time and through experiences, attitudes are learned opinions reflecting the preferences an individual has in favour or against security protocols and issues.
  • Behaviours: The physical actions and decisions that employees make which impact the security of an organisation.
  • Cognition: The understanding, knowledge and awareness of security threats and issues.
  • Communication: Channels adopted to share relevant security-related information in a timely manner, while encouraging and supporting employees as they tackle security issues.
  • Compliance: Written security policies and the extent that employees adhere to them.
  • Norms: Unwritten rules of conduct in an organisation.
  • Responsibilities: The extent to which employees recognise their role in sustaining or endangering their company’s security.

All of these dimensions are inextricably interlinked; should one falter so too would the others.

The Bearing of Banks and Financial Institutions

Collecting data from over 120,000 employees in 1,107 organisations across 24 countries, KnowBe4’s ‘Security Culture Report 2020’ found that the banking and financial sectors were among the best performers on the security culture front, with a score of 76 out of a 100. This comes as no surprise seeing as they manage highly confidential data and have thus adopted a long tradition of risk management as well as extensive regulatory oversight.

Indeed, the security culture posture is reflected in the sector’s well-oiled communication channels. As cyberthreats constantly and rapidly evolve, it is crucial that effective communication processes are implemented. This allows employees to receive accurate and relevant information with ease; having an impact on the organisation’s ability to prevent as well as respond to a security breach. In IBM’s 2020 Cost of a Data Breach study, the average reported response time to detect a data breach is 207 days with an additional 73 days to resolve the situation. This is in comparison to the financial industry’s 177 and 56 days.

Moreover, with better communication follows better attitude – both banking and financial services scored 80 and 79 in this department, respectively. Good communication is integral to facilitating collaboration between departments and offering a reminder that security is not achieved solely within the IT department; rather, it is a team effort. It is also a means of boosting morale and inspiring greater employee engagement. As earlier mentioned, attitudes are evaluations, or learned opinions. Therefore, by keeping employees informed as well as motivated, they are more likely to view security best practices favourably, adopting them voluntarily.

Predictably, the industry ticks the box on compliance as well. The hefty fines issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the past year alone, including Capital One’s $80 million penalty, probably play a part in keeping financial institutions on their toes.

Nevertheless, there continues to be room for improvement. As it stands, the overall score of 76 is within the ‘moderate’ classification, falling a long way short of the desired 90-100 range. So, what needs fixing?

Towards Achieving Excellence

There is often the misconception that banks and financial institutions are well-versed in security-related information due to their extensive exposure to the cyber domain. However, as the cognition score demonstrates, this is not the case – dawdling in the low 70s. This illustrates an urgent need for improved security awareness programmes within the sector. More importantly, employees should be trained to understand how this knowledge is applied. This can be achieved through practical exercises such as simulated phishing, for example. In addition, training should be tailored to the learning styles as well as the needs of each individual. In other words, a bank clerk would need a completely different curriculum to IT staff working on the backend of servers.

By building on cognition, financial institutions can instigate a sense of responsibility among employees as they begin to recognise the impact that their behaviour might have on the company. In cybersecurity, success is achieved when breaches are avoided. In a way, this negative result removes the incentive that typically keeps employees engaged with an outcome. Training methods need to take this into consideration.

Then there are norms and behaviours, found to have strong correlations with one another. Norms are the compass from which individuals refer to when making decisions and negotiating everyday activities. The key is recognising that norms have two facets, one social and the other personal. The former is informed by social interactions, while the latter is grounded in the individual’s values. For instance, an accountant may connect to the VPN when working outside of the office to avoid disciplinary measures, as opposed to believing it is the right thing to do. Organisations should aim to internalise norms to generate consistent adherence to best practices irrespective of any immediate external pressures. When these norms improve, behavioural changes will reform in tandem.

Building a robust security culture is no easy task. However, the unrelenting efforts of cybercriminals to infiltrate our systems obliges us to press on. While financial institutions are leading the way for other industries, much still needs to be done. Fortunately, every step counts -every improvement made in one dimension has a domino effect in others.

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