‘Banks’ Collaboration with Fintech Key to Digital Transformation’

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Emma Okonji

Experts that spoke at the African Fintech Foundry Disrupt Conference 2019, an initiative of Access Bank, have stressed the need for collaboration between the banks and the financial technology (fintechs) in order to effectively drive digital transformation in the financial sector of the Nigerian economy. 

The Executive Director, IT and Operations, Access Bank, Mr. Ade Bajomo, in his opening remarks at the conference, which held recently in Lagos, said 82 per cent of financial services companies needed to collaborate with fintechs, if they must survive and participate in the planned all-inclusive tech economy of the future, where Africans would be solving Africa challenges.

“The future is digital and we must embrace it through collaboration with FinTech players to achieve the digital transformation dream of Nigeria and Africa at large,” Bajomo said.

The Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank Nigeria, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, in his presentation on, ‘The Future of the Intelligent Bank,’ said: “Banks have evolved over the years, with growing customer population, which calls for the adoption of digital solutions from fintech players to address the growing needs of customers, which will also help in achieving the digital transformation drive of the country.”

He pointed out that 20 years ago, the banks were struggling to sell debit cards to their customers, adding that  cards were gradually being phased out with technology evolution and replaced with online transactions, using the mobile phones and other mobile devices that allow customers to transact while on the go. 

Wigwe, said Artificial Intelligence (AI) remained an essential tool for banks to remain competitive, and called on banks and the fintech players to leverage AI technology to achieve full digital transformation.

Speaking to the theme of the conference, ‘Digital Gold Rush: Building a Sustainable Tech-Economy”, Wigwe said: ”Leveraging such technology as Artificial Intelligence and utilising data analytics is imperative if banks and fintechs are to remain competitive. Today, becoming an intelligent bank is not an option, it is a necessity, as technology is redefining the way banks operate.”

He said AI, big data, cloud computing, virtual reality, robotics, cryptocurrency, have all brought enormous opportunities for banks to significantly improve the way customers access and manage finances.

According to him, with automation technology, banks and fintechs would be able to grant credit in seconds, adding that a manual review of 12,000 documents used to take 360,000 hours, but that today, this could be done in seconds using AI.    

Wigwe said blockchain could be used to execute smart contracts, eliminating manual costs of transactions. 

He said robotics technology would be used to serve customers in banks, adding that there is so much that can be done with data, as big data analytics can help an intelligent bank to understand its customers better. 

The Head, Africa FinTech Foundry (AFF), Mr. Segun Adeniyi, said the evolution of technology and the Fourth Industrial Revolution were about opportunities that would drive financial services.

He, therefore called on banks and the fintechs to use the power of technology to harness the opportunities that avail in Africa.  

According to Adeniyi. ”We aim to help innovators harness the power of their innovations, give them platforms to test and go to market. We provide them with unparalleled access to global financial, technology, business and investor partner networks.” 

In one of the panel sessions that discussed women in technology, the panelists, comprising of the CEO of MainOne, Funke Opeke; Managing Director for Africa, Element, Barbara Iyayi and Vice President of Commercial Mines, Adia Sowho, called on women to embrace technology and strive to bridge the technology gap between them and the men. They equally called on organisations to give women with technology skills, the opportunity to scale up in today’s digital world.