By Emma Okonji
In order to play more active role and carry out proper oversight functions in a digitilised economy, board members of financial institutions have been advised to adopt new technology strategies that would enable them migrate from their current legacy approach to digital approach strategies.
They were particularly advised to raise more awareness on digital transformation, while sitting on the board of financial institutions in the country.
Financial Technology (FinTech) experts who gave the advice at an annual
technology event organised for board members of financial institutions in Lagos recently, highlighted the opportunities and challenges in a digital economy.
They stressed the need for board members of financial institutions to take advantage of the opportunities and guard against the identified challenges.
Executive Director, SystemSpecs, Mr. Deremi Atanda, who represented the FinTech ecosystem at the gathering, said the essence was to keep board members of financial institutions abreast of new trends the technology space that would enable them align with chief executives and managing directors of financial institutions that report to them.
According fo Atanda, “This is one of the annual events that is aimed at equipping board members of financial institutions in Nigeria on capacity development, to enable them better play their oversight functions.
“So it’s more like a continuous capacity development programme for members of the board of financial institutions, to enable them become more aware of trending issues, so that they can engage with their management at the same level, and also be brought abreast of developments to make them more relevant to things around them.”
According to him, the focus for this year has been helping financial institutions’ board members to reposition their different organisations in the face of digital disruption, and in the face of digital revolution.
“So the main issue is how can board members of financial institutions help the companies they sit on to be repositioned in the face of digital revolution. And so this year’s programme has five components, but the one I spoke on, was about navigating digital revolution, exploring the opportunities and addressing the challenges.
“So the summary of it is that in digital revolution, there are opportunities, and there are also challenges which financial institutions can face.
“So the whole issue is about identifying those opportunities, and working with participants to craft strategies to address them, and also identifying the challenges and also crafting strategies on how to deal with them,” Atanda said.
Financial institutions present at the conference, included the Central and of Nigerian( CBN), Access Bank, Sterling Bank, GTBank, among others, while the FinTech industry was represented by SystemSpecs.
Speaking on some of the identified opportunities and challenges for board members of financial institutions in the digital era, Atanda said: “The first thing we identified is that the digital revolution is here with us, we cannot deny it, and the difference will be how we choose to respond to it. We can see it as coming with loads of opportunities, and respond to those opportunities or we can also see it as a threat, and panic and give up. But there’s a balance that while you’re taking advantage of the opportunities that digital revolution presents to financial institutions, board members should also not close their eyes to the challenges and how to respond to them, because in every opportunity, there is a risk.”
Atanda, however, said more importantly, the digital revolution would provide financial institutions with opportunities that redefine their businesses, so that they would remain relevant; make themselves more attractive for those who are digital natives to come to add value to them; explore digital to lower their costs of operations; innovate, and create products and services that the current environment would need and can relate with; and open new vistas of collaboration to extend beyond themselves to get things done.
They could actually collaborate with FinTech like ours and others to create value for the society, and therefore make more from what they are doing, Atanda advised.
On the balance, the consensus is that digital revolution provides huge opportunities for financial industries, and their board members need to speed themselves up in getting to be aware of the digital technologies, adapt to the changes, and more importantly, support their management to explore new frontiers of digital technology for the benefit of their businesses, Atanda said.