Stanchion fast-tracks JMMB’s Customer Experience and Fraud Initiatives

JMMB, one of the leading financial groups in the Caribbean, has partnered with Stanchion Payment Solutions, global specialists in payment solutions and integrations, to reduce fraudulent card transaction activity and create new customer communication experiences.

JMMB is the first bank to deploy the latest version (v3.0) of Stanchion’s Digital Payments platform, VERTO. VERTO is used by financial organisations globally and provides payment orchestration, data transformation and enrichment services.

Through this partnership, Stanchion provides JMMB with a multi-pronged approach to fraud. A rules-based engine declines suspicious activity, while VERTO enables transaction alerts – empowering JMMB’s customers to react to suspicious transactions. The flexibility of VERTO’s innovative rules engine allows JMMB to selectively send different alerts over multiple channels depending on the nature of the transactions and the cardholders’ preferences. For example, clients can choose to be alerted via SMS or email for all new transactions or only via SMS for above-threshold values. When a transaction is identified as matching fraud conditions, a specific alert is sent to the customer.

JMMB operates in multiple regions with different rules, currencies and requirements; all of which are accommodated by Stanchion’s offering.

With the VERTO solution now fully deployed, JMMB also has access to a platform for future innovation and payment modernisation.

“We chose to partner with Stanchion because they are payments experts who we can rely on for both our day-to-day and strategic payments needs. Their global footprint has meant that we are able to leverage their international expertise,” says JMMB Group CEO, Jerome Smalling.

Stanchion CEO, Steve Kirrage, emphasised the value of this new partnership. “Stanchion’s latest release of VERTO signifies a significant milestone in our drive to simplify payments integration and innovation. The value to JMMB is measurable immediately, but we are also excited about the opportunities to continue engaging with JMMB in future innovation initiatives.” says Kirrage.

Bank of Sierra Leone concerned over unregistered cooperative organizations

By Kemo Cham

The Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL) has called for the harmonization of legislations relating to the cooperative sector as a way of ensuring proper coordination and regulation of the activities of cooperative organizations in the country. 

A representative of the Bank told stakeholders in the cooperative sector that failure by organizations to register with it constituted a major concern for the financial regulator. Esther Johnson said 

The failure to register makes it impossible for the Bank to coordinate the activities of Credit Unions in particular, which fall under its purview. She was speaking at a workshop convened to validate the first National Cooperative Policy, last week. 

The workshop, which was held at the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s Conference Hall at Youyi Building in Freetown, was attended by leaders in the cooperative industry, as well as officials of the ministry and other relevant local and international development agencies.

Officials say the new draft policy is part of efforts to revive the sector which has been dormant for over a decade now, leading to the reduction in the number of cooperative organizations in the country.

Cooperative societies are voluntary organizations formed to represent the interest of their members who engage in a particular trade or profession. Examples of cooperative societies include mining, housing, fishing, arts and crafts, and transportation cooperative unions.

As of August 2020, there were 582 cooperative organizations in Sierra Leone, data from the Cooperative Department in the Ministry of Trade show. That number, according to officials, is a drastic reduction of what it used to be over a decade ago, when there were over 2000 organizations.

The sector lost its relevance over the years due to numerous factors, notably lack of purpose within the organizations, lack of finance, lack of capacity, as well as the effect of the (1991-2002) civil war, the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic, climate factors and now Covid-19, according to Newton Martin, Acting Registrar of the Department of Cooperatives. 

Mr Martin said despite its woes, the sector makes a substantial contribution to Sierra Leone’s economy, arguing that the assets and contributions of the individual societies run in billions of Leones. 

“If properly managed, cooperatives can play a great role in solving of the socioeconomic problems facing the country,” he stated. 

Officials hope that the new policy will pave the way for the review of the 1977 Cooperative Act, the first and only existing law governing the sector in the country. They add that the outdatedness of the law is a major part of the reason for the near death of the sector. 

Khadijatu Barrie, National Coordinator of the International Trade Center (ITC), a UN agency that promotes the internationalization of Small and Medium Sized businesses in the developing world, which has been collaborating on the policy review process, called for gender inclusivity. Ms Barrie told the workshop that the protection of the rights of women and youths in the policy is important because the two demographic categories are key drivers in national development. She noted that women in particular are very active in cooperative societies, yet they tend to have little voice in decision making. 

Barrie goe4s on to say that that massive sensitization of the policy would be needed to popularize it in the public for its effective implementation.

The policy draft policy is reported to have been in the making since 2013. 

Dr Edward Hinga Sandy, Minister of Trade and Industry, presided over the opening ceremony of validation workshop. He told the participants in his keynote address on Thursday that the introduction of a policy for the cooperative sector is important in the context of the government’s Medium Term National Development Plan. He noted that the role of Cooperatives is well captured in the national development blueprint, as was articulated at its launch by President Julius Maada Bio.

Dr Sandi said the policy is important in that it promote entrepreneurship, which is a sure way to guarantying the livelihoods of the people. He also said that the policy is important because it seeks to encourage more local production, thereby cutting down on the country’s dependence on imported goods.

“We consume too much that is produced from outside,” the minister said, adding that a policy and eventually a legislation will be crucial to put in check exploitative investors who have contributed to the underperformance of the agricultural sector.

The opening ceremony was chaired by Augustine Sheku, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade. He said that the move to formulate a policy for the cooperative sector is a demonstration of the government’s commitment to improve on the livelihoods of its people.

“Cooperate societies have been moribund, but they are very key in the development of the sector,” he said, noting that that’s why the ministry deemed it fit to meet with stakeholders instead of sitting in their offices and develop the policy.

Sierra Leone: President Bio implores Sierra Leoneans to be “watchful guardians of our own health”.

President Julius Maada Bio on Friday implored Sierra Leoneans to be “watchful guardians of our own health and the health of our community”.

“COVID-19 is real and deadly. Over a hundred million people have been infected the world over and over a million people have died. Thousands have been infected in Sierra Leone and we have lost our brothers and sisters to COVID in Sierra Leone and in the diaspora,” he said.

The president made the remarks at the unveiling of the National Micro-Finance Programme (MUNAFA FUND) in Magburaka on Friday, 

president Bio addressing the audience on Friday

“Please adhere to all health protocols from health officials and from NACOVERC and DICOVERC officials about wearing face masks properly, frequently washing hands, and social distancing.”

He also noted that his administration  listens and cares about ensuring women and young people are able to access microfinance funding to develop themselves, their families and their communities.

He said for the first three months of in 2021 the Government will disburse Le26.05 Billion to 11 financial service providers to facilitate the process, with 100 beneficiaries targeted in every district

“For us, inclusive development means leaving no one behind because every Sierra Leonean matters regardless of his or her tribe, place of origin, or political affiliation,” he said.

The president also said his administration seeks to diversify  economy further and add value to local products, noting that his administration continues to strengthen regional and global trade relations. 

“We will support businesses to fully reap the benefits of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme, the African Continental Free Trade Area, and other such regional schemes,” he said.

Sierra Leone: President Bio Calls for More Rural Banking

President Julius Maada Bio has told the opening of the Union Trust Bank, UTB, branch in Makeni that he is
proud of the only indigenous private bank in Sierra Leone promoting more access to services in
the rural areas.

“No doubt, its customer-focused banking products have helped deepen financial inclusion among
citizens who live and do business in rural communities. But beyond this, my Government believes
that we can gain a lot as a nation if we promote a savings and investment culture among citizens.
The days of ‘earn and spend’ are gone. Banks can therefore work with Government to foster that
savings and investment culture,” he said noted.

President Bio emphasised that the government expected that banks would be able to make
available low cost credit to credit-worthy Sierra Leoneans who had proven investment ideas,
adding that they had undertaken various efforts to promote financial inclusion in the country,
including creating a digital biometric registration for citizens wishing to open bank accounts.

“I am informed that Union Trust Bank Limited is a client institution for both the African
Development Bank Group and the Islamic Development Bank Group. It is also the first Western
Union Money Transfer agent in Sierra Leone with agencies in all districts. This international reach
and the diversified financial services portfolio is also very helpful.

“I am informed that Union Trust Bank did not experience a cash shortage during the two weeks of
the Christmas period. I want to encourage Union Trust Bank, as well as other players in the
sector, to adopt liquidity management practices that assure that depositors can access their
money in banks as and when they need it.

“Let me conclude by stating that I am proud that Union Trust Bank Limited is the only indigenous
private bank in Sierra Leone. It clearly demonstrates the capacity of Sierra Leoneans to develop a
corporate culture and compete actively in the banking sector. The establishment of several brick-
and-mortar branches all over Sierra Leone demonstrates that the bank is visibly re-investing its
profits in Sierra Leone,” he said.

Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, said since its establishment in 1995 the bank continued to
make significant gains in the financial sector, adding that its management was really committed to
creating wealth and contributing to the socio-economic wellbeing of the people of Sierra Leone.
Chief Executive Officer of UTB, Dr Sanpha Koroma, expressed gratitude to President Bio for
gracing the event, noting that he was pleased to host him in that part of the country

Lone Congolese Bank to Sign the China-Africa Inter Bank Association Establishment Agreement

Wednesday 5 September, 16 African banks including RAWBANK, the first banking institution in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and China Development Bank (CDB) signed an agreement for the establishment of the China-Africa Inter Bank Association in Beijing (CAIBA).

Creation of the China-Africa Interbank Association, September 5, 2018

Creation of the China-Africa Interbank Association, September 5, 2018

RAWBANK (, the only Congolese bank to have been selected as founding member of this cooperation, hence assumes its leading role in the Congolese banking sector alongside international and African banks. This agreement marks the official establishment of the first China-Africa financial cooperation multilateral mechanism.

Based on the presentation by H.E Xi Jinping, President of China, aimed at enhancing China-Africa relations and promoting “10 principal cooperation plans” between this country and the African continent, “eight major actions” of China-Africa cooperation were planned in order to advance the partnership.

Taking into account the deficit in meeting the funding needs of African countries with regard to industrialization, infrastructure connectivity and poverty alleviation, a closer collaboration between Chinese financial institutions and African countries was decided.

Within this context, the China Development Bank (CDB), represented by its President, Mr Hu Huaibang, and peer financial institutions in Africa jointly established the China-Africa Inter Bank Association (CAIBA), which is a concrete move in achieving win-win cooperation and better quality and higher common development.

RAWBANK, Congo’s lone bank to be selected owing to its leading position in the banking sector for more than 16 years, is henceforth one of the 16 founding members of CAIBA alongside international and Pan-African banks such as Standard Bank, Absa, Attijariwafa Bank, to name only a few.

With CDB, CAIBA will, in the long term, enhance financial cooperation between all member banks to advance partnership in various domains such as China-Africa infrastructure interconnection, international cooperation and exchange in the humanities.

This agreement is proof of CDB and RAWBANK commitment to strengthen the economic ties and investments between China and African countries, as part of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

As the Chinese government’s financial institution for development, the CDB ( has always put a premium on cooperation with Africa. Since the launch of funding cooperation with Africa in 2006, the CDB has continually widened its cooperation with the financial institutions of African countries by investing and funding over USD 50 billion in close to 500 projects in 43 African countries.

The CDB encourages Chinese enterprises to invest in Africa, assists African local governments in solving problems such as funding deficits and infrastructure construction delays, and strives to develop economic and commercial cooperation, increase employment and spur economic growth in African countries.

Established in 2002 by the Rawji Group, operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo since the start of the 20th century in the areas of trade, distribution and industry, RAWBANK ( is the country’s largest bank as it was the first-ever to exceed 1 billion dollars in total turnover in 2015. Having more than 1 600 staff members with close to 100 sales points, 300 000 customers and 25% of market shares, RAWBANK is a key player in the development of Congo’s economy. Having been certified and won and award, it is today considered a crucial financial stakeholder in the DRC, for individuals and SMIs/SMEs, as well as for major enterprises and international institutions. RAWBANK is rated by Moody’s (B3), certified as ISO/IEC 20000 and ISO/IEC 27001, and has established funding partnerships with several international donors (Proparco, IFC, Shelter Africa, etc.). Safety, cost-effectiveness and sustainability are RAWBANK’s operational priorities to consolidate its growth strategy, in particular towards individuals and the private sector.

Ecobank announce Winners of 2018 Fintech Challenge

This year’s Fintech Challenge was keenly contested with applications from over 412 innovative fintech entrepreneurs from across Africa, Europe, North America and Asia

Nala, Virtual Identity and dazzle judging panel to be the three winners of the competition; All 11 finalists were officially inducted into the Ecobank Fintech Fellowship programme to explore commercial partnerships with the pan-African banking giant.


Winners of the 2018 Ecobank Fintech Challenge were announced at a ceremony held at Ecobank’s ( headquarters in Lome, Togo on 30th August 2018.

Nala, from Tanzania, beat the ten other finalists to emerge as the overall winner of the competition. Virtual Identity from South Africa and from Nigeria were the first and second runners up. They won cash prizes worth US$10,0000, $7,000 and US$5,000 respectively.

Nala, based in Tanzania, is a mobile money application that works offline, without an internet connection. Nala provides a unified user experience in which multiple financial services can be connected on one application. It can host multiple SIMs, enabing users to manage their spending and take control of their finances.

Second placed Virtual Identity is an innovative platform designed to disrupt traditional customer onboarding for banks. The process is fully digital, creating a virtual video conferencing link between the agent and the customer. Its easy to use web-based solution allows the client to complete tedious KYC processes from anywhere, making it both convenient and time saving.

The third placed prize winner,, is a start-up providing an alternative bank for a growing generation of digital natives. Its core strength is building a banking platform that is as native to customers’ devices as Facebook and WhatsApp.

Ade Ayeyemi, Ecobank Group CEO praised the finalists for their innovative solutions and welcomed them to the Fellowship: “We are proud of the impressive start-ups that made it to our 2018 final. They are shining examples of the entrepreneurial spirit and creativity that will propel our continent’s global competitiveness in the commercial services markets, and I sincerely expect some, if not all, of them to be the business titans of tomorrow. They have my congratulations and we look forward to working closely with all eleven Fellows over the next year to deliver innovative banking services at better price-points that will improve the lives of Africans.”

This year’s Fintech Challenge was keenly contested with applications from over 412 innovative fintech entrepreneurs from across Africa, Europe, North America and Asia.

All eleven (11) finalists were inducted into the Ecobank Fintech Fellowship, a one-year business program where they can explore opportunities for commercial partnerships with the Ecobank Group, to launch and scale products across Ecobank’s 33 country markets in the continent.

Launched in 2017, the second year of the Ecobank Fintech Challenge brought together fintech start-ups and innovators, policy makers, investors and development organisations from across the world to network, witness the 2018 finalists’ exhibitions, and celebrate the induction of the finalists into the 2018 Ecobank Fintech Fellowship.

Also present at the finals was the Honourable Alhaji Dr. Ibrahim Awal Mohammed, Minister of Business Development of Ghana, who commended Ecobank for this initiative and urged more support for young African entrepreneurs to improve job creation on the continent.

The Ecobank Fintech Challenge and Fellowship is designed and managed by the advisory firm Konfidants and supported by FMO, Microsoft4Afrika, Accion Venture Labs, Cellulant and FinConecta. More information on the fellows, their innovations and the Innovation Fellowship can be found on the programme website at

incorporated in Lomé, Togo, in 1988 Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (‘ETI’) the parent company of Ecobank ( is the leading independent pan-African banking group. It currently has a presence in 36 African countries, namely: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Democratic Republic), Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Group employs over 17,500 people in 36 different countries in over 1,200 branches and offices. Ecobank is a full-service bank providing wholesale, retail, investment and transaction banking services and products to governments, financial institutions, multinationals, international organizations, medium, small and micro businesses and individuals. Additional information on Ecobank can be found at

Ecobank named Africa’s Best & Most Innovative Retail Bank

Ecobank ( has won two major awards at the African Banker’s prestigious ceremony held at the Paradise Hotel in Busan, South Korea. The bank was named Best Retail Bank in Africa after impressing judges with the strides it has made to leverage digital financial services and an enhanced service model, to be the retail bank of choice.

ecobankThe ever improving feature set of the truly revolutionary Ecobank Mobile App, which has now been downloaded by more than 5 million people, took the prize for Innovation in Banking, thanks to the way it has redefined borderless and inclusive banking, along with several other transformative innovations designed to deliver financial services to all.

Commenting on the double award win, Omar Ben Yedder, Publisher of African Banker said: “Ecobank has had a game changing year in so many ways and their approach to embracing technology and putting it at the centre of their growth strategy has obviously paid dividends.”

Ade Ayeyemi, Group CEO of Ecobank said: “It gives all of us at Ecobank great pride to be recognised as not only the Best Retail Bank in Africa, but also the Most Innovative. This is further proof that we are on the right track in our quest to be the bank of choice for middle Africa. We will continue to ensure that we are at the forefront of harnessing state-of-the-art technology to provide our customers with accessible and affordable banking services.”

Ecobank is committed to providing the range of financial products and services that meet the day-to-day banking, transactional and investment needs of all Africans. Ecobank enjoyed a 40% increase in customer numbers during 2017 and the bank aims to serve 100 million customers by the end of 2020.

The Ecobank Mobile App aims to deliver real convenience to customers and with its removal of barriers to entry, at affordable price points, is an integral part of Ecobank’s strategy. It is the first unified banking application across 33 countries and enables customers to do their banking activities where and when they want, 24/7 and 365 days a year, conveniently on their mobile phones. It allows transactions in 18 different currencies and in four languages (English, French, Portuguese and Spanish).

The app includes the multi-featured digital payment solution, Ecobank Pay, which enables customers of any bank to pay for goods or services. It unifies all of Ecobank’s digital payment offerings for internet payments, paying bills and airtime top-ups by mobile.

Patrick Akinwuntan, Group Executive, Consumer Banking said: “Ecobank represents more possibilities for every African. Our Ecobank Mobile App, Xpress Account, Ecobank Pay, Xpress Points and Rapidtransfer are fast becoming top-of- mind consumer banking brands that represent convenience, affordability and instant fulfillment to our customers across Africa and in the diaspora.”