Banking consultant and corporate governance expert Dr. Richmond Atuahene has said that for banks to remain resilient and safely sail through the coronavirus pandemic storm, it will be necessary for them to improve on their digitisation drive and form strong partnerships with financial technology companies (fintechs).
Speaking ahead of the Ghana Economic Forum (GEF), where he is expected to share his thoughts on the theme ‘Building Resilient financial institutions to mitigate the impact of COVID-19’, Dr. Atuahene said considering how the pandemic has aroused consumers’ appetite for digitised products and services, it would be a good bet for banks to capitalise on it.
Besides digitisation, he adds, it is also extremely important for banks to have what he calls ‘strategic collaboration with financial technology companies’, especially with the telecommunication industry’s mobile money platforms, as they command a greater customer base than the banks do.
“While the current situation brings multiple challenges, it also brings many opportunities. The first is COVID-19-digitised customers. Because of digitalisation, people are able to do banking transactions without going to a bank. Before COVID-19 banks were not very aggressive with digitisation, but now they have come to realise it is very important.
“Secondly, technology has also changed the face of COVID-19. During this pandemic, technology has created the opportunity for digitised financial services to accelerate and enhance financial inclusion in the midst of social distancing and containment. Now, low-income earners and small businesses can all do transactions by phone.
“So, there are three key areas the banks must now take seriously: One is to do more digitised banking; the second is to intensify use of technology; and the third is to have a strategic collaboration with the fintech companies. Other than that, if the banks try to do it alone, it will be difficult for them – however, the fintechs can easily take over the business of banks. So these are the areas I think banks should focus on for the next 2-3 years to remain resilient,” he said in an interview with the B&FT.
He however cautioned that in migrating to intensive digitisation there should be robust cybersecurity systems to tackle possible incidences of fraud, in order for customers to trust the system, or else the digitisation agenda may be derailed.
This year’s Ghana Economic Forum is themed ‘Resetting the economy beyond COVID-19; building economic resilience and self-sufficiency’. The Ghana Economic Forum’s inception in 2012 was aimed at bringing together captains of industry and thought-leaders to discuss key issues affecting the Ghanaian economy, and offer solutions to help overcome the challenges in order to enhance achievement of the country’s economic development plans.
The forum remains the foremost creative force for engaging the country’s top business leaders in collaborative activities to shape the country’s economic agenda. For eight years, the Ghana Economic Forum’s mission has driven policies aimed at steering the country’s economy on the right path. The event aims at bringing out new thinking and policy alternatives to help shape the country’s agenda for economic growth.