After a competitive bidding process, the United Bank for Africa (UBA) and the Government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoF) have signed an agreement for Liberians residing in the Diaspora to make payments online for passport fees and consular charges.
The payments will be made via the bank’s new platform, U-Bills – a platform that will allow payment through the use of debit and prepaid cards.
‘U-Bills’ is an online payment and collection platform which would help boost e-commerce in Africa.
The agreement, which was finally sealed on December 6, 2016, defines the terms and conditions and states that the bank’s service fee will be 3 percent of the designated price per passport on non UBA bank cards while a service charge of 1.25 percent will be charged applicants using UBA cards.
This means that applicants paying with a non UBA bank card will pay US$200 for the passport plus a US$6 bank charge, while applicants using a UBA card will pay US$2.50 as service charge.
Signing the agreement on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Minister for Legal Affairs Cllr. Deweh Gray said the UBA platform will allow government to track revenue generated from the sale of passports with direct deposits to one central location instead of in accounts at the missions where the centers are located.
Cllr. Gray also stated that the platform will help Diaspora Liberians to obtain their passports with easy access.
Also speaking, Prince D. Chesson, Head of Digital Baking Sales at UBA, expressed gratitude to the GoL through Foreign Affairs for the mandate given them.
“The mandate has given UBA Liberia a proven dominance in the Digital Banking space in Liberia,” said Mr. Chesson.
In another development, UBA has been selected as banker to the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to provide banking and financial services for the Millennium Challenge Account-Liberia (MCA-L).
The agreement was signed on January 19, 2017, by representatives of UBA Liberia, Millennium Challenge Account-Liberia and Cardno Emerging Markets USA Limited (the Fiscal Agent).
The MCC is a bilateral United States foreign aid agency established by the U.S. Congress in 2004, applying a new philosophy toward foreign aid.
It is an independent agency separate from the State Department and USAID that focuses on promoting economic growth with emphasis on good economic policies in recipient countries.
The United States of America, through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the Government of Liberia, entered into a five-year poverty reduction grant assistance (The Compact) to help facilitate poverty reduction through economic growth in Liberia.
The Millennium Challenge Account-Liberia was designated by the Government of Liberia to oversee and develop Liberia’s Compact.
Jacob Slewion, Procurement Director of MCC, who spoke at a one day meeting, said he is certain that UBA Liberia will meet their commitment as indicated in the Request for Proposal (RFP).
He said that the MCA-L is intended to improve economic growth and reduce poverty with specific focus on road construction, infrastructural development as well as access to reliable and affordable electricity in the country.
For his part, UBA Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Olalekan Balogun expressed gratitude to the MCC Liberia team and assured them of UBA Liberia’s commitment, stressing that “excellent customer service and digital banking are critical to the success of our operations.”