The founder and Group Managing Director of Interswitch Limited, Mr. Mitchell Elegbe has blamed the poor online banking services being experienced by customers before and during the current naira redesign project on the mass exit of tech talents from the banks.
Elegbe said the exit of experienced tech staff in the banks, which often comes with short notice, left the financial institutions with inexperienced ones, who have little capacity to deal with the problems within a short period of time.
The Interswitch GMD stated this during an interview with journalists in Lagos, after his emergence as the EY West Africa Master Entrepreneur of the Year for 2023.
This was just as the Founder and Chief Analyst of Nairametrics Financial Advocate Limited, Mr. Ugo Obi-Chukwu won the EY West Africa Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year, while the Managing Director of Abbey Mortgage Bank Plc, Dr. Rose Okwechime, emerged the winner of EY West Africa Lifetime Achievement Award for 2023.
Dwelling on the brain drain syndrome in banks, which had exacerbated customers’ online banking experience, Elegbe explained that such gap was also obtained in other sectors of the economy.
He explained, “I think to be very honest with you, it’s talents. You are experiencing it in PMS because it’s easy to see it, but it’s something that we find across all sectors, whether it’s medicine, education, a lot of very talented Nigerians have left the country and sometimes, when they leave, they don’t give you enough notice to prepare, and some of the issues you are experiencing is partly from that.
“That can’t be the only thing, but that is the major reason. So, you have a problem in the past, you can solve it in five minutes. This time, you may be doing it for five hours or 50 minutes. So, that’s part of what you are experiencing.”
“But it’s a temporary issue. It will be resolved, and we are aware of this. Across the industry, a lot of efforts are going on. You must have noticed in the last few weeks that there has been a lot of improvement. So, these things do happen from time to time.
“Sometimes, somebody who is going to school or going abroad is handing over to someone else, the person whom he is handing over to suddenly leaves too. But we have built a system, it’s spread in Nigeria. So we can solve the problems, we just need some time.”
Expressing confidence and hope in Nigeria despite the growing urge for people to leave the country in search of greener pastures, Elegbe said Nigeria remained a good place to do business and thrive because of the huge opportunities in the country.
With 200 million people, he said Nigeria has a big market for any product, saying no country with 200 million has ever failed as he was told him by a certain Brazilian professor, who also projected that Nigeria would be among the top 10 countries in the world by 2050.
“As long as there is somebody to buy – the market is there, it’s just a matter of time we begin to improve. There are international competitors but local companies are thriving because the market is there. Once you commit yourself to excellence with continuous improvement, you will make it.
“And luckily for us, in our time, there is more money going around today. So you hear about all these fintechs and so on. So people should not give up. There are lots of problems, so look for one problem, tackle it and the market will reward you if you tackle it properly”, he said.
Commenting on the award he won, Elegbe described it as very inspiring as it was not easy doing business in Nigeria.
“When you have been able to survive for 20 years and a reputable firm like EY with that of judges we have say that they recognise you as the winner, it’s something I find very inspiring. I was here 11 years ago for the Emerging Category, and to come back 11 years after for the Masters Category shows that perhaps, there are some things we are doing right.
“And I would like to thank Nigerians with joy. I live in Nigeria and I have stepped across one form of our customer or the other. So, this victory is not just for Interswitch, it’s for all Nigerians,” he noted.
Elegbe who will be going for the EY Global Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Monaco in June to compete for the highest award, said he would have to go and prepare as the challenge was not an easy one.
Also speaking, Senior Partner and EY Head of Markets for West Africa, Mr. Ashish Bakhshi, said the Entrepreneur of the Year Award was a global award which the multinational group has been doing in 60 countries and in 120 cities across the world.
He said the award helps entrepreneurs to grow while EY also grows with them, saying, “what we have seen today is the 2023 award which Interswitch has won and we are happy to do that. We only facilitated, we have a jury which actually decides and agrees on who will be the winner.
“Interswitch’s Mr. Mitchell will now go to Monaco to represent Nigeria and West Africa in the global award. It will happen on the 6th of June in Monaco and he will compete with close to around 60 other competitors and he will be judged there, and with God’s grace, he may win, you don’t know”.