Exploit digitisation to rope-in the unbanked – Banking stakeholders urged

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

Dr. Opoku-Afari said players adopting digital technology 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.

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He said digital innovation is 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 have given way to dynamism and competition, as innovative financial services and products are constantly being churned out,” stressing that digitisation provides great potential for the banking sector to offer products and services which hitherto were 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 concerning banks’ business models that will 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 acceptance of digital financial services and products by merchants and the public.

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

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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 must adapt to the fast-changing evolution in the banking and digital space to remain in business.

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

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