By Bala Augie
As financial solution providers continue to face stiffer competition globally from Fintech startups and emerging technologies such as blockchain, cryptocurrency and crowdfunding, and the increasing level of disruption in the traditional mode of payment and business models, technology holds the key to unlock the potentials in the financial service sector across Africa through Fintech.
As the banking sector continues to find newer ways of engaging and providing customer centric services to bridge the current level of unbanked and under banked population to achieve Nigeria’s 2020 financial inclusion target, the fallout of the recently held FirstBank Fintech Summit 3.0., is that technology is the growth to financial institution in Africa.
“Customer experience and innovation are key in our approach to satisfying our customers. As a leading banking services solutions provider, FirstBank has continued to set the pace in the financial services industry, coming up with new initiatives to provide financial products and services with greater speed, accountability and efficiency,” said Adesola Adeduntan, the CEO, First Bank of Nigeria Limited at the recent FirstBank Fintech Summit 3.0.
Adeduntan opined that the third edition of the FirstBank Fintech Summit indicates the Bank’s commitment to putting its customers first. According to him, FirstBank is keen at offering excellent financial services by devising new ways of effectively and efficiently meeting customers’ financial needs.
“Evidently, financial technology is causing positive disruption in the financial services industry. The impact of technology in lifestyle business and other areas of today’s customer is huge. We are therefore following global trends in collaborating with Fintechs and other big technology companies on several transformational initiatives to be able to satisfy our customers’ needs,” said Adeduntan.
According to Adeduntan, the main purpose of the FirstBank Fintech summit is to converge thought leaders in the FinTech space to champion discourse around financial technology and proffer solutions that will shape the future of banking.
He stated further that key areas of interest for the bank, is to champion the propositions around e-business and digital offering, agent banking, wholesale or transaction banking product suite, retail and consumer lending and SME productivity.
“I am optimistic that every organisation represented here will be empowered to provide services with greater speed and solve real societal problems to the advantage of the Nigerian populace through the insights that will be gained from this event.
“At FirstBank, our promise is to always deliver the ultimate ‘gold standard’ of value and excellence. We will therefore stop at nothing to provide excellent and innovative financial services to our esteemed customers,” he concludes.
Victor Asemota, keynote speaker at the summit said the essence of Fintech is the ability to deploy technology towards solving human problems with tools and processes. According to him, innovation simply means the ability to effectively combine and deploy tools, process and people together to achieve an aim.
Asemota opined that Fintech will help to end the deficit narrative associated with human centered innovation. Hence, people plus innovation will result into solving real life problems, real time.
Chuma Ezirim, the Group Executive, eBusiness and Retail Products, said Fintech is an enabler in solving real problems in the financial sector. However, building a strong digital franchise in the financial ecosystem will be driven by successful partnerships.
In rolling out the figures, Ezirim said, “Over 18m customer accounts, over 10m cards issued (processes about 25% of card transactions in Nigeria). Highest number of Verve transacting cards; Visa debit multi-currency card. Over 8 million users (80% of customer base) with an average of 2.1 million transactions worth over N7 billion is processed daily.
“Over 3.3 million customers; over 500,000 transactions worth N23billion are processed daily. Over 36,000 active agents in Nigeria with a dominant presence in 754 local governments in the 36 states. Over 600,000 transactions worth over N9billion are processed daily,” said Ezirim.
According to him, in developing digital innovation lab, the banking sector must create new digital experiences for customers by enhance existing channels and products. Therefore, banks and the financial sector should leverage Fintech and non-Fintech ecosystem in Nigeria by promoting open innovation, collaboration and co-innovation in the Nigerian financial services sector.
According to Ezirim, in offering banking as a service to its customers is leveraging its API infrastructure. FirstBank is today offering payments through accounts, wallets and cards. However, he is of the view that there are growth areas and opportunities in Fintech.
According to him, Fintech allows banks to offer real time processing of transaction (instant payments and settlements). Mobile payments/acceptance channels through mobile Apps, USSD, QR Code, E-/M commerce, and others that are out-growing cards usage.
Similarly, Fintech has contributed to the digitalization of person to person, person to business, business to person and business to business payment transactions. And, it allows for new approaches to assessing risk in underserved segments especially with consumer and SME Loans.
Callistus Obetta, the Group Executive, Technology & Services, FirstBank, said financial technology has made positive disruption in banking and other financial services; and financial institutions will do well to take advantage of Fintech.
According to him, FirstBank is taking giant strides in the digital space. “In a short time, we have become the foremost financial inclusion solution provider with over 36,000 agents in all states of the federation. We have done over N2 trillion in transaction value from inception to date.
“The FirstBank Agent Banking Network is currently doing over N8 Billion daily. This is helping us reduce poverty in the country. Our Firstmobile application has become the foremost mobile banking application in the country with over 3 million users doing over 14 million transactions monthly,” said Obetta stating that FirstBank has been able to achieve this feat due to its ability to embrace technology.
However, Obetta urged participants at the Fintech summit to leverage on the insights shared by speakers. “We will continue to adopt the best technology and collaborate with the best partners to deliver value to our customers,” Obetta stated.