NCC: Unbundling Financial Services Key to Digital Transformation

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By Emma Okonji

The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has said the surest way to achieve digital transformation is through the unbundling and restructuring of provision of financial services by relevant authorities.

This, he said must be supported by government policies.

Danbatta, who made the disclosure at the weekend, during the Vanguard Economic Forum Series, which held in Lagos with the theme: ‘Economy-Nigeria’s Emerging Digital Economy And The Role Of Financial Technology’, said since digital transformation does not occur in isolation, therefore supporting policies play an important role in guaranteeing conditions for it to thrive.

Danbatta,  who was represented by the Head, Academia Research Support Unit, Research and Development Department at NCC, Mr. Okoh Aihe, said the NCC would continue to ensure high level of quality of service, security assurance of networks, information and data protection, to enhance digital transformation in Nigeria.

While presenting the keynote paper at the forum, the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who was represented by the Director, Banking and Payment Systems Department at the CBN, Mr. Dipo Fatokun, said in order for digital transformation to further gain traction,  banks must collaborate with fintechs as well as financial services regulator to regulate the risks posed by disruptive and innovative solutions from fintech players.

Participants at the forum were however worried at the slow pace of digital transformation in the country, while citing cases of the challenges Nigerians pass through with the unending SIM card registration, where Nigerians are subjected to providing the same personal data each time they buy and register a new SIM card.

They also complained of the difficulties in providing the same personal data for various registrations like drivers’ licence, vehicle licence, biometric verification number (BVN) with banks, national identity cards with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), among others.

According to the participants, government appeared very slow in driving the processes of digital transformation, since Nigeria has no central repository for data capturing and storage, which they argued, gave rise to different agencies of government collecting same data from the same people at different times, and subjecting Nigerians through rigorous processes of providing the same personal data to different agencies for different registration purposes.

They were worried that the agencies that collect personal data, work in silos, hence the country is faced with the big challenge of data harmonisation, which they said, impedes growth of digital transformation.

Responding to the worries of participants, the Managing Director/CEO, Galaxy Backbone, Mr. Yusuf Kazaure, said policy implementation would address the issue data harmonisation.

According to him, NIMC is responsible to harmonisation and the development of a single database for Nigeria but explained that NIMC only got approval from the Federal Executive Council (FEC) two weeks ago to implement a strategic roadmap for a new digital identity ecosystem in Nigeria. He said the FEC approval of the new digital identity ecosystem would bring into full force the implementation of the provisions of the NIMC Act, which include the enforcement of the mandatory use of the National Identification Number (NIN).

The implementation of the new digital identity ecosystem from January 2019, would address the issue of data harmonisation, and boost digital transformation across the country, Kazaure said.