BY EMEKA EJERE
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says the permissible activities of Micro Finance Banks (MFBs) will now include the issuance of commercial papers (CPs) and appointment of agents under the Agency Banking Model.
The CBN also said that MFBs can now invest in money market instruments including Nigerian Treasury Bills (TBs) and access intervention funds.
The apex bank disclosed this, yesterday, in the Exposure Draft of the Revised Guidelines for the Regulation and Supervision of Microfinance Banks in Nigeria posted on its website.
CBN had set April 1, 2020, as deadline for MFBs to meet the first stage of the new minimum capital base. Its director of Financial Policy and Regulation, Kevin Amugo, in the circular, stressed that the need to reposition and strengthen MFBs towards improved performance had become apparent as revealed from the report of a recent review of the subsector.
The circular stated: “The 2012 Guidelines have been reviewed to strengthen and complement other on-going reform in the MFB subsector.”
The guideline for regulation and supervision of MFBs was last reviewed in 2013.
Under the new capital base structure, the CBN categorised MFBs into four, as against the three – Unit, State and National contained in the 2012 Guideline.
But with the new capital base which takes effect next month, MFBs would be categorised into Tier-1 Unit, Tier-2 Unit, State and National.
The CBN had in 2018 reviewed the capital base of MFBs raising that of Unit MFBs from N20 million to N50 million for Tier 2 and N200 million for Tier 1 MFBs. The two categories were expected to meet N35 million and N100 million capital base by the first day of next month.
Also, the capital base of state MFBs had been raised from N100 million to N1 billion by 2021 and they are expected to have N500 million capital base by April 1, 2020 while the National MFBs are expected to have N3.5 billion by next month and shore it up to N5 billion by April 2021 from a previous requirement of N2 billion.
According to the draft guideline, Tier 1 Unit MFBs, “shall operate in the banked and high-density areas, and is allowed to open not more than four branches outside the head office within five contiguous local governments areas, subject to the approval of the CBN.”
Also, Tier-2 Unit MFB with rural authorisation shall operate only in the rural, unbanked or underbanked areas, and are allowed to open one branch outside the head office within the same local government area, subject to the approval of the CBN.
“State Microfinance Bank is authorized to operate in one State or the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). It is allowed to open branches within the same State or the FCT, subject to prior written approval of the CBN for each new branch or cash centre.”