MoneyRise 2021 Year in Review

Rise
Rise

We sent our first MoneyRise weekly email on the 15th of March this year with a promise to send you the most valuable financial information every Monday evening (WAT). We decided to do a special edition for New Year’s eve to give you a rundown on what happened in the Financial markets in 2021 and what you can expect in 2022.

While Retail investors in the US started the year with a bang as the shares of companies like Gamestop, AMC made large gains, and successfully short squeezed Melvin Capital; the key themes of the Nigerian investment space in 2021 can be summarised under the acronym “bin”, which meant: Bans, Inflation, and Naira falling.

Bans 

In February, in an attempt to stop the fall of the naira against the dollar, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) ordered banks to close any account linked to cryptocurrency trading.

In March, continuing their efforts to salvage the Naira, CBN instructed Nigerian Banks to stop instant completion of Forex transfers online, making it more hectic for anyone looking to make transactions in foreign currency.

On the 8th of April, the Security and Exchange Commission, Nigeria (SEC) released a memo that said that foreign securities should not be sold to Nigerian investors targeting platforms like Bamboo, Trove, Chaka, and your very own Risevest.

Before Nigerian Fintech startups could recover from the SEC’s memo, NIBSS dropped their own memo, which said that non-banking firms would no longer be able to validate the BVNs of their customers when they are performing KYC.

In June, The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) indefinitely suspended the operation of Twitter in Nigeria after the platform took down one of the President’s tweets that many Twitter users had reported. To date, Twitter users in Nigeria still need VPNs to use the platform.

July ended with another ban. CBN banned the operation of Bureau De Change (BDC) in Nigeria, forcing anyone that needed forex to go through commercial banks.

In August, CBN got a Court order that allowed them to suspend the bank accounts of Wealth techs in Nigeria such as Trove, Chaka, Bamboo and of course, us, Risevest. They eventually unfroze all accounts in October.

Inflation 

Nigeria’s inflation rate for the year was on a steady rise. It went from 16.74% in February to 17.33% in March, to 18.17% in April before it ended its 19-month climbing streak and fell to 18.12% in May, down again to 17.93% in June. In November, inflation was at 15.4%

2021 also marked a year of quantum leaps in the price of foodstuff. The 5-litre bucket of Garri that cost ₦350 in 2018 was going for about ₦1,100 by the end of March and rose to ₦1,300 in May and to ₦1,500 in June. In October 2021, a bag of beans rose to ₦100,000 from the ₦30,000 it went for in October 2020. A 12.5kg cylinder of gas that cost ₦4,100 to fill in October 2020 cost about ₦9,000 to fill in November 2021.

The average transport fare by okada and bus more than doubled in 2021, and by the end of the year, Uber and Bolt prices were astronomical!

While SEC and NIBSS were doing ban wars in April, The cost of building houses was rising. The cost of iron rods, for example, rose over 60%! A tonne of iron rods that previously cost ₦234,000 started going for about ₦380,000. While a bag of Dangote cement went from about ₦2,600 to almost ₦3,800.

Naira Falling

Most of the bans and some of the inflation we saw were in response to the naira, which kept falling relative to the dollar in 2021. 2021 was the year we had to come to terms with $1 costing over ₦500 to get. The black market rate hit ₦545/$1 and fell further to ₦575 in the same month. Also in September, CBN announced that it put Aboki fx under investigation for economic sabotage. This led Aboki fx to suspend forex updates on their site. The government ultimately had to issue Eurobonds which helped the naira gain some ground as it started trading at ₦560 in November.

COVID

COVID was still a big global issue in 2021. Though many Nigerians did not feel the impact, the world is currently in its fifth wave of COVID. Nigeria had to rely on vaccines donated by developed nations, of which many could not be used because they expired before they could administer them. While the developed world boasts of over 50% vaccination rate, African nations and Nigeria, in particular, cannot boast of the same feat as we currently only have 3.5% of the population vaccinated. 

December came with a new, more contagious variant in Omicron. And with it came the red lists. The UK put Nigeria on its red list and Nigeria putting the UK on its red list. A typical case of do me I do you, man, no go vex. The UK has now scrapped the red list idea, and Nigeria, in response, waved their red list status.

Bitcoin and Meme Coins

Bitcoin had quite an eventful year with it soaring past $60,000 in March, crashing to almost $30,000 in May and recovering between August and September and hitting new all-time highs at over $69,000, then falling back to around $46,000 by the end of the year. 

A meme coin called Squid coin, inspired by the Netflix hit TV show Squid Games, was launched on the 20th of October. The coin surged more than 310,000% in the week after its release to $2,861 before falling 100% to less than half a cent on November 1st after the creators of the coin yanked off $2.1 million that was invested in the coin, leaving the coin worthless. Other meme coins like Doge and Shiba had their time in the sun, too, and they did not go to zero like squid coin.

It shows the volatility of crypto markets and how if one is not careful and patient, they might lose a lot of money.

Other issues

Twitter announced that they would be setting up shop in Ghana in April while NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) rocked the world in the same month as an artist named Beeple sold an NFT art collection for $69 million.

After suspending SIM card registration in a bid to force everyone to register for National Identification Number (NIN), a decision that cost Nigerian telcos over ₦1.1 billion, the NCC started allowing SIM card registration and activation again in April.

The presidential economic advisory council told us in May that the estimated cost of insecurity in Nigeria is $10.3 billion.

The amount of foreign investment in Nigeria dipped from $4.31 billion in Q1 2020 to $974.1 million in Q1 2021, a 77.4% decline! On the plus side, this was a 1,635% increase from the $56.15 million recorded in Q4 2020.

In July, the World Bank reported that by the end of 2021, the Nigerian economy would have lost ten years of robust growth. And the economy will be back at the same place it was in 2010. 

Also, in July, 136 school children were abducted in Niger state. When one of the parents went to deliver the ₦30 million the parents of the school children had raised, the man was seized too because the kidnappers claimed the ransom was insufficient.

August marked the beginning of China’s war on Big Tech. August also saw Nigerians having to dip into their pension funds. According to the Augusta & Co 2021 pension industry report, Nigerians withdrew 48.78% of their pension contribution.

September marked one of the loudest Japa seasons in the 2000s millennia as pictures of “welcome to a new dispensation” littered the internet. According to the UK home office, 20,427 study grant visas were given to Nigerian nationals between June 2020 – July 2021. The highest number of visas granted in a single-year period to Nigerian nationals on this route.

While some Nigerians Japa-d, other Nigerians struggled to pay school fees as their children started the new academic session.

One of China’s largest property developers, Evergrande, started making the news in September over fears that it’d default on its over $300B worth of debt. Evergrande’s share price has dropped almost 90% Year to date. And trading of its bonds with maturity in 2022 and 2023 were suspended after they collapsed. Evergrande’s bonds were also blocked, i.e. could no longer be used as collateral. Evergrande is now considered to be in default.

It wasn’t all glum. Here are some great things that happened in Nigeria as well.

A Ray of Sunshine

In some good news, Burna Boy and Wizkid won Grammys, and Burger King announced that like Santa Claus in December, they’d be coming to town. 

In May, the Federal Government partnered with Microsoft to speed up the country’s digital economy. This partnership would create over 27,000 digital jobs and improve digital infrastructure all over the country.

Nigeria’s GDP also grew in the 1st quarter of 2021 by 0.51% and 5% in Q2. 

On October 1st, Nigeria launched its Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), the eNaira. We wrote all about what a CBDC is here. While Nigeria was closing accounts linked with cryptocurrency trading and banning Twitter, El Salvador announced that it would formally adopt Bitcoin as a legal tender in June.

At the end of September, Andela hit unicorn status with the $1.5 billion valuations it got in its series E funding round.

We had the #EndSARSMemorial in October. Following the increase in crude oil price, the IMF has upgraded Nigeria’s growth forecast to 2.6% and 2.7% for 2021 and 2022, respectively.

After Tesla hit $1T in October, the company lost over $200b of that market cap after Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted a poll asking his followers if he should sell 10% of his stake in the company.

In November, Rise got a new look, and we signed Teni Makanaki as our first-ever brand ambassador!

Looking Ahead

We can expect issues around inflation to persist in 2022. And if the naira remains unstable, we can expect more restrictions on Fintech. Globally, we can expect COVID to continue and more advancements to be made to Web3. All the predictions for Bitcoin to hit $100,000 did not materialise this year. The closest it got was almost $70,000 in November. Could we see Bitcoin hit $100k in 2022? It’s quite unlikely, considering that global inflation concerns remain, and Central Banks around the world will likely raise interest rates which would reduce the amount of money available for people to buy Bitcoin with. But Bitcoin remains an enigma, so who knows?

Merry Christmas and have a prosperous New Year ahead.