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CBN canvasses investment in customers to bridge unbanked gap - THE GUARDIAN

OCTOBER 22, 2019

To bridge the unbanked gap in the country, and also ensure that those already banked do not lose interest in the sector, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and Inlaks, a major Financial Technology (FinTech) player, have stressed the need for players in the sector to invest more in people.

This will grow customers’ experience that will unlock digital opportunities in today’s banking age.     While CBN believes that banks should invest more in customers than the technology that drives the banking processes, Inlaks emphasised the need for collaboration between banks, FinTechs, and CBN, to boost customer experience in a digitised economy.

   
Both spoke at the maiden edition of Inlaks Digital Summit, in Lagos, at the weekend, which attracted financial institutions in Africa to experience, learn and implement the application of technology in the digital banking age.
   
Deputy Governor, CBN, Ade Shonubi, who spoke on, “Bank Branches and the Future: The Regulator’s Perspective,” noted that the regulator will always look at things slightly different from the way those it regulates think.

He added that the focus of the regulator is about the impact of banking services on their customers and the people and not really about the technology that drives the entire process.    He continued, “When talking about bank branches, we look at agent points and agent services in financial inclusion drive. Services to customers should extend beyond the technology that is driving the service. In all successful banking services, there had always been the need for trust, and that is what the core banking services are built upon. Trust could be defined as the probability that expectations of the service rendered, will be met and satisfactory to the customer. What attracts customers to the bank is about trust and the reward system. Bank branches must, therefore, build on trust to attract customers to the branches.”     Shonubi further explained that banks should focus more on how to impact customers and build their trust. “The focus should, therefore, be on the people and not about the technology. In Nigeria, we have less than 40 million people, who are banked in a population of 200 million. It goes to show that the majority of the people do not carry digital devices and they are not digital. It is for this reason that banks should focus more on the customers and provide them with services that will meet their needs,” Shonubi said.

From his presentation, the CEO, African Operations at Inlaks, Femi Adeoti, in his welcome address at the summit, stressed the need for greater collaboration between the banks, FinTechs, and the regulator, where banks should not see FinTechs as threats but as collaborators in the race towards enthroning a digital economy.     According to Adeoti, in the nearest future, banks would not be competing against Financial Technology (FinTech) players, but with big players like Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Google. The people are evolving with technology and banks, therefore, needs to adapt and be prepared for the future that is coming.     “Key elements for the survival of banks into the future should be their concern and focus more on customer experience than the products they provide for the customers. Banks need to upgrade their resources with innovative talents that must include Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Biometrics and other solutions. The essence is to drive data, which is the new oil in the banking industry.

“Inlaks is not only committed to revolutionise African industries through the provision of quality ICT products and services, but we believe we also owe it a duty to contribute immensely to problem-solving discourses in leading industries,” Adeoti said.    Deputy Governor 1, Bank of Ghana, Maxwell Opoku-Afari, who was represented by Claren Blay, said: “Technology is evolving fast and banks must evolve with technology evolution. Banks must invest in mobile money because mobile money cannot function without banks. The FinTechs have come to stay and banks need to collaborate with FinTechs to provide the mulch needed customer experience.”

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