Nigerian artists bank on crypto-art

A piece by artist Osinachi. (Twitter)
A piece by artist Osinachi. (Twitter)
Short Url
Updated 26 June 2021

Nigerian artists bank on crypto-art

Nigerian artists bank on crypto-art

LAGOS: At only 29, Nigerian pop-artist Osinachi has sold paintings on Microsoft Word for several thousand euros, or the equivalent amount in ether, a cryptocurrency often used to buy digital art.

One of his works, “Becoming Sochukwuma,” shows a black dancer wrapped in a tutu made of African fabric, dreadlocks tied in a bun, swirling on a computer screen.

But what makes the painting truly unique is its endorsement with an NFT (Non-Fungible Token) — a set of data stored in a blockchain that is used as a certificate of ownership.

The digital painting was sold in April for $80,000 worth of virtual money on the crypto-art market, a growing business in Africa’s most populous country.

Worldwide, NFTs, which serve as a unique identifier, have reassured collectors when buying online art and propelled digital artists to stardom.

Between January and May, NFTs generated around $2.5 billion worth of transactions according to the website NonFungible.com sparking the interest of global auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s.

Osinachi’s pieces have done very well on this emerging market and in just a few months the young man has become the most famous African crypto-artist.

He was already using Microsoft Word to paint when he was at university but “gallerists didn’t care about digital art” until recently, he told AFP.

It was in 2017 that he discovered he could sell his artwork directly to buyers using a blockchain — where a record of NFT ownership can be stored.

In the past six months, as crypto-currencies and NFTs have boomed, digital art like Osinachi’s has thrived.

“Now, galleries are after him,” said Oyindamola Fakeye, creative director at the Center for Contemporary Art in the country’s cultural capital Lagos.

“He has a very positive influence on other African digital artists.”

Blockchain, cryptocurrency, NFTs, are terms that are no longer foreign to Osinachi, who spends a lot of time in person and online explaining what they are to other artists.

Many creative minds and entrepreneurs in Nigeria are inspired by his success.

It’s a “revolution in the art space,” said fellow crypto-artist Niyi Okeowo, whose Afro-futurist work combines photography, 3D and graphic design.

Nigeria has about “a hundred” digital artists, Okeowo says, and “most have been inspired by Osinachi.”

With its large, youthful, creative and connected population, the West African nation has “the potential to lead” when it comes to NFTs, Osinachi believes.

“We have plenty of talents here. The creative energy in Lagos alone is baffling among young people.”

Nigerians are also fond of cryptocurrencies, contributing to the success of NFTs.

In times of economic crisis, with a devalued naira, a growing number in the country are chosing to invest in digital currency.

Last year, more than $400 million was exchanged in cryptos, making Nigeria the third-largest user of digital money worldwide, behind the US and Russia, according to Statista, a German company specializing in market and consumer data.

Entrepeneur Uyi Omokaro was an early believer in the potential of NFT in Nigeria.

This month, he launched Wearmasters, a platform to sell Africa-made NFT art, where he hopes to bring on some of Nigeria’s most talented emerging artists like 23-year-old painter Daniel Pengrapher. “Our ambition is to give them international visibility through NFT.”

For now, NFT collectors are few in the country. One of them is Michael Ugwu, director of a digital studio in Lagos.

“I’m one of the only ones,” says Ugwu.

He started investing in cryptocurrencies in 2017, after several devaluations of the naira, before discovering his real passion: the crypto-art market.

“The traditional art space can be a little bit snobbish,” said Ugwu. On the crypto-art market, he says he “found a community, so welcoming, so interactive.”


UAE’S First Abu Dhabi Bank books profits of $3.4bn

UAE’S First Abu Dhabi Bank books profits of $3.4bn
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 12 sec ago

UAE’S First Abu Dhabi Bank books profits of $3.4bn

UAE’S First Abu Dhabi Bank books profits of $3.4bn
  • The outstanding performance reflects indicators of economic recovery and positive momentum for the bank's core business

RIYADH: Largest bank in the UAE, First Abu Dhabi Bank announced its financial results of the last fiscal year with profits of 12.5 billion dirhams ($3.4 billion).

This figure compares to 10.6 billion dirhams in 2020, representing a 19 percent increase, according to a statement.

The outstanding performance reflects indicators of economic recovery and positive momentum for the bank's core business, the statement revealed.

Moreover, the group’s revenue saw a 17 percent surge thanks to strong trading performance and growth in fee-generating business. This contributed to alleviating the repercussions of low interest rates, the statement said.

Operational costs rose when compared to the corresponding period in 2020. This comes as a result of the persisting investments in digital and strategic initiatives as well as taking into consideration Egypt’s Bank Audi business.

Asset quality maintained adequate rates thanks to the proper management of risks and stimulus measures. These were within the framework of the comprehensive economic support plan tailored for the country’s central bank.

The group also maintained strong levels of liquidity, financing, and capital altogether.

Founded in 2017, FAB provides financial solutions, products, and services through its corporate and investment banking and personal banking franchises. 


Gold’s Gym Saudi Arabia jumps into the Kingdom’s IPO market  

Gold’s Gym Saudi Arabia jumps into the Kingdom’s IPO market  
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 5 min 49 sec ago

Gold’s Gym Saudi Arabia jumps into the Kingdom’s IPO market  

Gold’s Gym Saudi Arabia jumps into the Kingdom’s IPO market  

RIYADH: A leading fitness player in the Kingdom and globally, Gold’s Gym Saudi Arabia, has appointed a financial advisor amid plans to list on Saudi Exchange’s parallel market, Nomu.

To manage and lead the initial public offering, the fitness club selected BMG Financial Group, according to a statement by BMG.

US-based Gold’s Gym has several branches across Saudi Arabia, which are all owned by Jeddah's Batterjee Holding Co.


Dubai, Monaco sign agreement to attract ultra-wealth individuals

Dubai, Monaco sign agreement to attract ultra-wealth individuals
Updated 11 min 15 sec ago

Dubai, Monaco sign agreement to attract ultra-wealth individuals

Dubai, Monaco sign agreement to attract ultra-wealth individuals

RIYADH: Government-owned Dubai Multi-Commodities Centre, or DMCC, has signed an initial agreement with Monaco Economic Board in a bid to attract ultra-rich individuals. 

Dubai and Monaco are both synonymous with the ultra-wealthy. The agreement focuses on enabling Ultra High Net Worth Individuals and family offices, with DMCC being the primary destination for global business. 

This comes as the two cities seek to further strengthen the economic synergies and expand bilateral trade relations, the Government of Dubai Media Office reported. 

“The agreement will build on our existing strategic bonds and allow us to explore further trade opportunities between our two countries,” CEO and executive chairman of DMCC, Ahmed Bin Sulayem, said. 

“In line with its mandate to attract trade to Dubai, DMCC continues to expand its global network and work closely with its stakeholders to nurture a thriving business ecosystem in Dubai,” he added. 

The deal comes following the recent European roadshow held by DMCC, where it signed agreements with key counterparts and strategic partners to strengthen collaboration and attract foreign direct investment to Dubai. 

 


Kuwait’s credit rating downgraded to ‘AA-’ by Fitch

Kuwait’s credit rating downgraded to ‘AA-’ by Fitch
Updated 38 min 2 sec ago

Kuwait’s credit rating downgraded to ‘AA-’ by Fitch

Kuwait’s credit rating downgraded to ‘AA-’ by Fitch

RIYADH: Kuwait has had their long-term foreign-currency issuer default ratings, or IDR, downgraded from 'AA' to ‘AA-' by Fitch Ratings.

The downgrade comes as a result of the ongoing political constraints on decision-making that is contributing to structural challenges in the Gulf state. 

 


Deutsche Bank sees biggest annual profit in a decade

Deutsche Bank sees biggest annual profit in a decade
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 54 min 1 sec ago

Deutsche Bank sees biggest annual profit in a decade

Deutsche Bank sees biggest annual profit in a decade
  • Sewing’s 2019 plan involved shedding billions in risky investments

Deutsche Bank said Thursday it reaped its best annual profit in a decade in 2021 and had put most of the costs of its wrenching, years-long restructuring behind it.

The bank underlined its recovery by announcing a dividend for 2021 and a 300 million-euro ($338 million) share buyback to return money to shareholders.


CEO Christian Sewing said Thursday the bank had created “positive momentum” in a “negative environment” during the pandemic and that “the downward spiral turned into an upward spiral” as the bank made progress toward the goals laid out more than three years ago in an extensive plan to revamp its business.


Last year, Germany’s largest bank saw stronger earnings from its investment bank, which made 3.7 billion euros ($4.1 billion) in before-tax profits, a gain of 17 percent.

And it had lower losses for loans that aren’t being paid back, which fell 71 percent during the year against a background of low interest rates and an economic recovery from the worst of the pandemic lockdowns.


The bank said it had already accounted for 97 percent of its restructuring costs anticipated through the end of 2022.


In July 2019, Sewing announced a 7.4 billion-euro ($8.3 billion) restructuring that involved cutting overhead costs and thousands of jobs in an attempt to end years of uneven profits and large losses from repeated run-ins with regulatory authorities.

The bank had just under 83,000 employees at year-end 2021, down from 91,737 at the end of 2018.


Progress in cutting costs slowed during the year but in some cases for positive reason such as higher business volumes and spending on computer systems and financial controls.

Sewing said that such spending helped ensure the bank’s compliance with anti-money laundering regulations and promoted more profitable business going forward.
“Our determination to reduce costs further has not changed,” he said.


The bank also said it would be paying higher bonuses because of the bank’s stronger performance.


Sewing’s 2019 plan involved shedding billions in risky investments, leaving less profitable lines of business where the bank wasn’t a dominant competitor.

In 2021, the unit charged with running down holdings no longer seen as parts of the bank’s core activities shrank to 28 billion euros, down from 34 billion in 2020 and remained ahead of its 2022 goal.


Remaining costs for restructuring such as severance for employees being let go continued to weigh on earnings into the last months of the year, hitting fourth-quarter earnings with charges of $456 million.


Full-year net profit rose fourfold from the year before to 2.5 billion euros, the highest since 2011.

Revenues rose 6 percent to 25.4 billion euros. For the fourth quarter, the bank managed to turn in a net quarterly profit of 82 million euros despite higher remaining restructuring expenses including employee severance.

The bank proposed a dividend of 20 euro cents per share for 2021, its first since the 11-cent dividend for 2018.