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Business News of Tuesday, 20 August 2019


Exploit digitization to rope in the unbanked - Banking stakeholders urged

First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr Maxwell Opoku-Afari First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr Maxwell Opoku-Afari

Dr Maxwell Opoku-Afari, First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, has urged stakeholders in the financial and banking industry to exploit digitisation to meet the needs of the unbanked and broaden services to all segments of society.

He said digitisation was key to the future of banking and finance and players must be ready to position themselves to harness the opportunities.

Dr Opoku-Afari was speaking at the opening session of the Digital Banking Summit and Innovation and Excellence Awards 2019 in Accra on Monday.

The two-day programme is organised by the International Centre for Strategic Alliances (ICSA) with KPMG as Knowledge Partner, First Bank Nigeria as Official Banking Partner and Master Card as a Lead Sponsor.

The summit, on the theme: “Digitisation of Banking Sector - en route to a cashless Africa,” aims to outline the challenges and opportunities within the banking industry with focus on global trends of disruption in the banking sector.

Players from the banking and financial industry from Ghana and other African countries are attending the conference.

Dr Opoku-Afari said adopting digital technology by players in the banking and financial space could help promote transactional efficiency in the delivery of financial services as well as scale-up and broaden financial access to all segments of the society.

He said digital innovation was creating unprecedented opportunities for Africa to grow its economy, create jobs, and transform people’s lives.

“New technologies and business models are opening alternative pathways to economic growth in emerging markets, offering opportunities to reshape our lives and improve economic growth,” he said.

He said, “With the advent of technology, conservative banking operations has given way to dynamism and competition, as innovative financial services and products are constantly being churned out,” stressing that, digitisation provided great potential for the banking sector to offer products and services that hitherto was not regarded as feasible.

Currently, banks are not only competing among themselves for financial services but also with non-traditional providers such as financial technology companies (fintechs).

These developments raise important issues on banks business models that would appropriately deal with the increased levels of competition in the industry.

Faced with these challenges, banks are adopting collaborative strategies and leveraging on opportunities to partner new payment service providers or existing players in the delivery of financial services.

He called for collaboration between stakeholders in the banking, financial and Fintech space to promote the acceptance of digital financial services and products by merchants and the public.

Dr Opoku-Afari said Bank of Ghana would continue to create the necessary regulatory environment for the digital industry to thrive.

The Executive Director in charge of Retail Banking at Access Bank Ghana, Stephen Abban, who spoke on the topic, ‘Fintech and the future of banking’, said banks needed to adapt to the changing evolution in the banking and digital space to remain in business.

He said companies, which did not adapt to growing changes in technology collapsed, saying, “You either change or perish.”