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EBS Discussants Highlight Why Banks Should Court Fintech

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Financial technology [FinTech] experts have expressed concern that the banks and fintech would need to work together to grow the banking sector.

Their stand is contained in a communiqué at the end of first quarter edition, Ennovators Breakfast Series [EBS] with the theme, “Is Fintech and Banks Best Frenemies”.

Their views are hinged on the fact that fintech has gradually inched its way into the growth strategies of traditional banks.

They said that the collaboration has become obvious globally especially in Europe and the US where the surge in fintech and its capability has helped the banks to innovate and develop products to suit customers’ lifestyles.

“In Nigeria, the same thread is apparent. Most Nigerian banks are riding high on the wave of fintech products such as USSD, banking apps, etc. Because of this, research has shown that global investment in fintech has reached as high as $80 billion between 2010 and 2016. As such, traditional banks are paying closer attention to how to regain customers’ trust using fintech”, said Yele Okeremi, MD/CEO of Precise Financial Systems.

 Besides, the banks have realised that embracing fintech approach would assist improve their customer uptake.

To demonstrate the seriousness of the banks, one of the banks in Nigeria has branded itself “Fintech” bank. Will this attract customers’ attention? Will it help to drive market share? Will fintech disrupt the banking sector? Or to put it clearly, should banks engage fintechs for competitive advantage? Should banks build, partners or acquire fintech? Are fintech and banks best friends or foes?, asked the speakers.

Other speakers are Adedeji Olowe, Executive Director, Systemspecs Limited and Victor Okigbo, Adviser/Consultant on Financial Technology, Access Bank, while Emmanuel Agha – MD/CEO, Innovectives, moderated the session.

Key observations made by the speakers, that the line between being a friend and enemy is not defined among the banks and fintech; banking operation is a fallout of the infallibility of technology; fintech firms are creating what the customers want in the non-banking areas and taking it to the banks and Fintech firms can disrupt the banking landscape

They also highlighted that technology has led the way in respect to how the banks operate. That is what brought computerized banking and online fund transfer; noting that the gap between the banks and the customers is so huge. Fintech will fill that gap. Even non-banking companies are also coming into that space.

The panelists also admitted that soon, some basic things that are important to customers would be sacrosanct just like the air-conditioner in a banking hall; the USSD platform kicked off in 2014. In 2017, all the banks are offering USSD as a service. That is because customers are migrating to banks with the USSD platform; Fintech cannot survive the onslaught of the established financial institutions and the regulation. The customers will win from the onslaught.

Sola Fanawopo, event director, EBS said that the session resolved that new technologies are impacting the way the banks view and reach out to customers.

“What has made this happen is fintech. Therefore, the only way to deepen the customer relationship is for banks to collaborate with fintech.

“They also arrived at the conclusion that there is a future of collaboration between banks and fintech. There is a need to cooperate massively with fintech on a level the banks have not done before. That is what the banks want. This is what the customers want.

“The banks are looking for ways to collaborate with fintech. Banks want to hold open discussion with startups and meet them at the point of their needs.

The banks need to court the fintechs. If there is no clear collaboration between the banks and fintech firms, the banks will cease to exist, as we know it”.

The sessions also stressed that collaboration between the banks and fintech is a necessity.

 

 


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Microsoft Moves into 5G Race with Azure Cloud for Telecom Operators

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Microsoft Corp unveiled a new cloud platform on Monday aimed at enabling telecom operators to build 5G networks faster, reduce costs and sell customised services to business clients.

After banning China’s Huawei from its telecom network, the U.S. government has been pushing big American companies such as Microsoft to get more involved with 5G – a technology which promises to enable everything from self-driving cars to remote surgery and more automated manufacturing.

The new platform will be on Azure, Microsoft’s flagship cloud computing business, and the company says it will reduce infrastructure costs, give flexibility to add services on demand and use artificial intelligence to automate operations.

Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice president for Azure Networking, told Reuters that it could cut costs by 30%-40% in some cases.

The developer of Windows and Office software entered the 5G arena after its acquisition of cloud networking companies Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch earlier this year.

“The telco DNA was obtained through those acquisitions and we went from a small number of engineers in this space to literally hundreds of engineers,” said Khalidi. “On the other hand, the foundational pieces, including edge compute, we have had in a pipeline for many years.”

The company has already partnered with companies ranging from telecom operators such as Verizon VZ.N and AT&T T.N to network equipment firms such as Samsung 005930.KS and Mavenir to either use or sell the new platform to clients.

Microsoft’s move will increase competition for existing 5G service vendors like Nokia NOKIA.HE and Ericsson ERICb.ST, said CCS Insight analyst Nicholas McQuire.


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Interior Ministry Boosts Digitization Process with New ICT Projects

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Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Interior, over the weekend commissioned the e-Library, e-Law Library, CCTV Surveillance network services and other projects in his office in Abuja to digitize work processes and procedures in the Ministry.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Georgina Ekeoma Ehuriah, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola said that the projects were part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts at repositioning the Ministry for better performance in line with its mandate of providing internal security and citizenship integrity for Nigerians and foreigners alike.

According to him, the e-Library will avail officers the opportunity to access the right information, in the right form and time.

“The e-Library gives our legal and other officers 24/7 access to a wide range of online resources, which can be updated in real time and we believe this will enhance the quality of their work to the benefit of the Ministry”, he said.

The Minister further assured of government’s commitment to putting in place measures that will boost staff capacity and also ensure self-development, with a view to ensuring proper implementation of projects, policies and programmes that will improve the lives of Nigerians which would lead to economic transformation in line with the present Administration’s policy thrust.

Aregbesola emphasized that crime and criminality has become complex to handle, the world over, hence the need to deploy modern technology to fight it.

He therefore called on staff to see the projects as morale booster for self-development and urged them to continue to support the efforts of government towards improving the lives of its citizens.

Earlier, Lanre Adesuyi, the Chief Executive Officer, Havillah Merchants Limited, thanked the Minister for giving them the opportunity to provide workers with state of the art equipment for efficient service delivery.

On his own part, Mr. Mohammed Mustapha, the Managing Director, Aliph Technologies, called on government at all levels to see the deployment of modern technology as one of the best ways to tackle security challenges in the contemporary world.


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Heritage Bank, PWC, Deloitte Canvass Use of Tech to Tackle Fraud & Rescind Effects of Covid-19

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Heritage Bank Plc, Nigeria’s Most Innovative Banking Service provider has called on internal auditors of banks to adopt the various digital technologies to prevent fraud and annul the adverse impact of Covid-19 on the financial ecosystem.

Ifie Sekibo, managing director/CEO of Heritage Bank, speaking at the just concluded 47th Quarterly Meeting of the Association of Chief Audit Executives of Banks in Nigeria (ACAEBIN), disclosed that for improved banking operations and safer financial system for stakeholders, internal auditors must be dynamic and quick to adopt various digital measures.

Raising the alarming impact of fraudulent activities in the banking sector, Sekibo quoted PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PWC’s) Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey 2020, revealing that that the total cost of cybercrimes is worth an eye-watering $42 billion, which was cash taken straight off companies’ bottom line, whilst 13% of those who had experienced  fraud said they had lost $50 million-plus.

Sekibo, who spoke on the theme, “Elevating Internal Audit’s Role in the Face of Emerging Risks and Opportunities” organised virtually and hosted by the Heritage Bank, urged, “While it was sufficient for yesterday’s auditor to understand regular and routine banking practices such as credit, treasury, etc in his traditional assurance role, for him to be relevant in harnessing the opportunities in today’s business world, he must become versed in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, data analytics, fraud management, regulatory pronouncements, forensics etc and having equipped himself, present balanced, objective audit reports to Executive Management while striking the right balance between the assurance and consulting responsibilities.”

In her keynote address, titled, “Elevating Internal Audit Role In The Face Of Emerging Risks and Opportunities,” Ibukun Beecroft, Partner Risk Advisory at Deloitte, noted that the banking industry in Nigeria today has adopted various digital measures to keep the business running and delivering services to the customers but there was need for Internal Audit (IA) positioned to provide the required assurance and consulting services in the face of the changes and attendant risk, particularly increased cyber-risks.

Quoting 2018 Financial Stability Report by the Central Bank of Nigeria, she stated that Banks recorded 25,029 confirmed cases of fraud and this resulted in a loss of N2.21 billion. More than 90% of fraud cases in 2018 were perpetrated via technologically driven channels.

“As Internal Auditors, the knowledge of technology would enable us identify gaps in our core banking applications and other applications and provide relevant recommendations to eliminating loopholes that may serve as an avenue for potential fraud.

She, however, advised auditors on the need to focus on advanced technologies and risk management operations as reflected around the Three Lines of Defense (3LOD) churned out by the Institute of Internal Auditors, which create opportunities for IA and its future role.

Beecroft warned that the ever-changing landscape and evolving risks in the banking industry could render the current internal audit plan obsolete.

According to her, internal auditors should reprioritise the audit plan as soon as possible to provide assurance over the most consequential risks while being cognisant of the impact on operations.

“To take advantage of these changes and disruptions, auditors need to rethink their role by adapting to and embracing change, enabling the IA function to become more agile, nimble, and forward-looking, thus driving change through the 3LOD,” Beecroft stated.

Yetunde Oladeji, director Internal Audit Services at PricewaterhouseCoopers Limited (PWC), who spoke on the theme, “Elevating IA’s role to meet today’s emerging risks,” advised that the banking sector should be dynamic, prioritse digitization and flexibible workforce strategies as these would determine its ability to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances to survive and thrive.


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