The Managing Director of FBNBank Ghana, Mr. Victor Yaw Asante, has reiterated the commitment of banks in the country to continuously innovate and keep up with the pace of changing customer behavior and expectations.
According to him, this will ensure the industry remains relevant and competitive, especially in product development, personalisation and customer service delivery. “Our industry needs to remain efficient and competitive at least in the sub-region, particularly in the face of AfCFTA and innovation – and especially in the areas of product, processes and marketing as a key part of the process.”
Mr. Asante’s comments come at a time when the global economy is going through challenges; real incomes are down because of inflation, input and commodity prices are rising and there is a general ‘war’ on liquidity by central banks to fight inflation. These could alter customer behaviour, needs and expectations. In the opinion of Mr. Asante, banks are generally aware of what customers want – easy accessibility, real-time assistance, personalised services and data security among others, and innovation and digitisation provide the best means to keep the customer happy. He made these remarks when interacting with some customers of the bank’s Abossey Okai and Kaneshie branches.
In the opinion of Mr. Asante, the digital age is transforming almost every sector and aspect of daily life – the way we work, trade, learn, bank and access information, with innovation becoming crucial in the process. In particular, the use of technology to provide digital financial services supports individuals and businesses to live in the digital economy.
Ghana’s National Financial Inclusion and Development Strategy (NFIDS) 2018–2023 has innovation as the main underlining theme in its five pillars of financial sector development: Financial Stability; Access, Quality and Usage of Financial Services; Financial Infrastructure; Financial Consumer Protection; and Financial Capacity.
Ghana however dropped in the 2021 Global Innovation Index (GII). Ghana ranks 112th among the 132 economies surveyed compared to 108 and 106 in 2019 and 2020 respectively. While Ghana’s position has declined over the period, it is worth noting that almost every country increased the pace of innovation when COVID-19 hit. The banking sector has witnessed its share of innovation within that time, with everything movable online moved to meet the needs of customers.
However, the Managing Director of FBNBank Ghana, believes: “Although the pandemic moved up the time for planned investment in digitisation, banks cannot slow the pace because customers’ tastes, product and service technologies continue to change. Therefore, to keep up with customer expectations and new technologies banks should be highly innovative”.
A study from Fraedom, a global financial technology company, showed that 95 percent of business customers who use digital banking in their personal lives expect the same digital experience for businesses. This means retail/personal banking received more attention on digital innovations than commercial/business banking, and there is a need to replicate this feat in the personal banking space.
According to Mr. Asante, this is likely to apply to the Ghanaian market. “Even though this situation and many others present opportunities to banks in Ghana to create more value for customers and other stakeholders, without continuous innovation it will be difficult to effectively and efficiently derive the right value from those opportunities,” he added.