Economy: Ecobank CEO calls for collaboration among banks, fintech, telcoms

By Christopher Uba

The Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan, says more collaboration is needed among fintech, banks and telecommunications companies to spur markets in health, agriculture, education, transportation, fashion and creative industry, commodities, and capital markets.

Akinwuntan, who stated this in his keynote address at the ongoing Nigeria Fintech Week, maintained that for Nigeria Fintechs to accelerate positive disruption for value, there is a strong need to develop talents, solve problem beyond payments, monetise data and challenge the status quo.

Specifically, he made a case for the establishment digital school of Fintech to groom talents, deepen skills for businesses and grow knowledge of the financial services industry.
He added that the industry is sitting on a trove of data as big data can be leveraged to create values for customers including adopting superior user experience, and Interface for affordable payment and improved credit access.

According to him: “We must take the lead to introduce a continent-wide Bank Verification Number (BVN) and Global Standing Instruction (GSI) for Africa under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) Agreement, champion blockchain for cross-border payments in agriculture, education, and the government i.e. leveraging technology for better productivity.”
Akinwuntan also emphasized that “we must look at ways to improve cybersecurity and defence”.

Further, the Ecobank Managing Director stated that with a pan-African reach, award-winning capabilities and a customer base of over 25 million, Ecobank was enabling and partnering with Fintech platforms across the continent.

He noted that Ecobank’s flagship pan African switch connects countries where it operates across Africa.
This centralized switch allows easy integration, enabling instant transfers between 33 African countries, while offering real-time settlement across Africa in 18 local currencies.

In his opening remark, the President of the Nigeria Fintech Association, Dr. Olusegun Aina, stated that with the economic vulnerability following the COVID-19, Fintechs are undoubtedly the solution to the current disruptions.

He said: “We must as a country position digitally, as digital readiness will spur our recovery in 2021 and beyond.”

According to Dr. Aina, businesses and stakeholders in general must appreciate changes in customers’ behaviour, which he said mainly determines a company’s success.
He reiterated that regulation and funding are the main challenges hindering Fintechs from occupying their space fully, as they are fully adapted to the need of customers in the present generation.
The Nigeria Fintech Week, with the theme: “Evolving Economic Disruptions: Fintech as a Solution,” has participants from all over the world.
According to the Nigeria Fintech Association, with the evolving global economic disruption, the Nigeria Fintech Week 2020 aims to discover, launch and bring to limelight the new Fintech solutions that can be leveraged in key important but neglected sectors such as health, agriculture, education, ecommerce and logistics.

The weeklong event would feature 20-product pitches/launches, 10-keynotes, 15-panels/presentations, 70+ speakers, 2000+ attendees, and promote solutions for health, education, agriculture and advance insights around customer experience, digital skills, future of fintech, blockchain amongst others.
Some of the speakers apart from Akinwuntan are the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu; Oremeyi Akah, Chief Core Officer, Interswitch; Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, Interim CEO, M-PESA; Ebenezer Onyeagwu, GMD, Zenith Bank; Alan Sinfield, CEO, 9mobile; Jay Alabraba, Co-Founder, Paga; and Ade Bajomo, ED, IT and Operations, Access Bank Plc.

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