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Digital Banking Key to Financial Inclusion, Says GTBank CEO

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Segun Agbaje
  • Digital Banking Key to Financial Inclusion, Says GTBank CEO

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTBank), Mr. Segun Agbaje has described digital banking as a major plank to drive financial inclusion in Nigeria.

Agbaje stressed that Nigeria was becoming increasingly connected thanks to digital banking.

The bank CEO stated this in an interview that was published by worldfinance.com

“There are so many people in Africa that are outside the banking system. For you to be part of organised society, financial inclusion is a must. Slowly but surely, financial inclusion in Africa is improving,” he said.

The Central Bank of Nigeria predicts that, by 2020, the number of adult Nigerians with access to payment services will increase to around 70 per cent
“It’s not as superfast as we would like it to be, but there are marked improvements, and this is steadily increasing,” Agbaje added.

“Just 10 years ago, data on financial inclusion was hard to come by. Now we know just how much better we must do in order to expand access to financial services.”

Access to savings, credit, insurance and pensions is also growing rapidly.

He added: “Encouraging as these projections are, we know that there’s a lot more to be done. This is why, at GTBank, we are keen to leverage digital technology to expand the reach of our products and services. Mobile has become very, very big and we have begun to see people doing a lot using their mobile phones.”
Agbaje pointed to the example of Kenya’s M-Pesa, a mobile-based money transfer and finance platform that is now used by more than two thirds of the country’s adult population.

The mobile app serves as a channel for approximately 25 percent of Kenya’s GNP.

“When I look at our mobile technology compared to a lot of developed economies, I think we’re a lot further ahead. You know, I actually think that the African banking sector is very much ahead in terms of mobile banking. And I think African banks are probably embracing disruptive technologies a lot quicker, because we don’t have as many legacies.”
This readiness to embrace new technologies has helped a large proportion of the African population skip whole stages of traditional digital development altogether.

Indeed, for many, a smartphone is their first computer. Agbaje said: “From experience, we know that the major reasons for financial exclusion include the lack of physical access to financial institutions, inadequate understanding of financial institutions and their products, general distrust in the system, and the affordability of products as a result of minimum opening balance requirements.”

Despite these hurdles, technology is helping forward-thinking institutions tackle such challenges head on, prompting financial inclusion to leap forward on the African continent.

Agbaje explained: “The world is changing around us and the future of banking is digital. To protect our traditional business and maintain our social relevance, we are incorporating another model, which involves mobile phones, use of data, partnerships and collaborations. Simply put, we are creating a platform to support our traditional business model by leveraging digital solutions.”

He said core to the bank’s digital strategy was both its understanding that the future of banking remains digital, as well as its determination to lead that future.
Agbaje said. “We know, because digital technologies have dissolved the boundaries between industry sectors, that our competition is no longer just banks.

“It now includes fintechs, telcos and tech companies that can provide speed and flexibility to customers as we can. This creates tough challenges for the banking sector, but it also creates ample opportunities to extend our footprint.”

A readiness to embrace new technologies has helped large portions of the African population skip whole stages of traditional digital development altogether
For example, the bank’s SME MarketHub is an e-commerce platform that allows business owners to create online stores.

Agbaje told World Finance: “Our strategy is to take advantage of the new opportunities born from the digital revolution by moving beyond our traditional role as enablers of financial transactions and providers of financial products, to playing a deeper role in the digital and commercial lives of our customers.

“In pursuit of this strategy we have created our own in-house fintech division, while also actively seeking partnerships and collaborations with other fintechs.

“Our immediate focus is three-pronged; to digitalise our key processes, build a robust data-gathering infrastructure, and create a well-designed, segmented and integrated customer experience, rather than a one-size-fits-all distribution. In the long run, our goal is to build a digital bank that consistently delivers faster, cheaper and better solutions for the constantly evolving needs of our customers.”

The lack of digital and electrical infrastructure, as well as lower levels of wealth than those found in more developed markets, means that there are some barriers to the full adoption of digital banking that are particular to Africa.

“Another obvious challenge is the little focus given to innovation in the banking industry.

Agbaje also pointed out that, while GTBank had made significant gains in getting customers to accept digital banking as a viable alternative to traditional forms, there is still more to be done.

That said; he was hopeful that the Central Bank of Nigeria’s ‘Cash-less Nigeria’ policy, which discourages the use of cash, would drive greater migration to e-banking platforms.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Banking Sector

Wema Bank, MOD Launch Scheme For International Students

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Wema Bank has launched an advisory and loan scheme, the Education Advisory Service, in partnership with MOD Education for young Nigerians wishing to study abroad.

Following foreign exchange control measures introduced by the government, parents and guardians have experienced difficulties paying tuition fees for their children and wards studying abroad. Some who have the money don’t know the requirements for foreign admission and waste lots of time and resources in fruitless searches.

But to help them surmount these challenges, Wema Bank has partnered with MOD Education, a professional student advisory, marketing, recruitment and placement company for the advisory services and school fees advance facility. The partnership, which was launched on Friday, April 9 at Eko Hotels, Victoria Island, will see both organizations providing innovative education advisory services and funds for international students.

Speaking about the partnership, Divisional Head, Retail Business, Wema Bank, Dotun Ifebogun, explained that the initiative would aid hundreds of thousands of Nigerians requiring advisory and financial support to pay for their wards in foreign schools.

He explained that Wema Bank does not want the aspirations of Nigerians desirous of foreign education truncated, hence the support.

“We are interested in everything that concerns our customers, and education is one of them. Some parents and guardians desire a certain quality of education for their wards outside the shores of Nigeria, and we would be able to assist them with this product. Our school fees advance loan results from the requests of parents and guardians who need to get short term financial support to meet the tuition obligation of their wards irrespective of the constant increase in fees.

“There’s nothing as heartbreaking as withdrawing a child already in a foreign university or being unable to raise the requisite forex for a child offered admission in a top-rated foreign institution of higher learning. But our school fees advance loan will take care of this problem and help secure the futures of such students – both undergraduates and postgraduates. The fact that you get counsel from the right sources at any particular time is another benefit of this product.

Also, the Managing Director, MOD Education, Michael Dosunmu, expressed gratitude to Wema Bank for the partnership. “Wema Bank has been supportive to us as a business and it was just a natural marriage. We trust the bank enough to bank with them, and our trust is enough to recommend it to others.”

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Finance

NAIC Pays N1.7bn Claims to Farmers

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The Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC) said it paid a total of N1.7 billion claims to over 5,000 farmers in the past two years.

NAIC, which is the only federal government owned insurance company authorised to offer agric insurance services to farmers at subsidised rate, said a breakdown of the paid claims showed that it paid N856 million to insured farmers in 2019 and N848 million in 2020.

Commenting on the development, NAIC Managing Director, Mrs. Folashade Joseph, said the claims were paid to the farmers to cover losses incurred in the course of doing business.

Joseph, enjoined agricultural investors and lending institutions to continue to partner NAIC by taking agricultural insurance cover that will enable them remain firm in business despite unforeseen circumstances from weather conditions and other risks in order to realise the food security agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari.

She said the above-mentioned amount was shared among five million farmers who suffered various setbacks in their farms as a result of natural course.

According to her, the NAIC Agric Insurance Scheme was launched in 1987 by federal government to restore the confidence and productivity of Nigerian farmers who suffered losses as a result of natural disaster such as flood, drought, pest and diseases.

The NAIC boss explained that the essence of the sensitisation campaign embarked by the corporation was to let the farmers know and understand exactly what NAIC does, the importance of insurance, and make them understand how insurance works, how they can access NAIC products and services, how to process their claims, as well as what insurance stands to do for them.

“Agribusiness is evolving fast and so many risks are being thrown up, many new participants are coming into the business of agriculture, and the risks are on the increase if you look at them across the value chain, there is no so many participants so we need to keep sensitising the farmers and let them know we are serving them, and we need to know from them how to serve them,” she explained.

Speaking further, she said, “our assurance to farmers is that when they are insured and they suffer losses covered by any of the policies they purchased, including natural disasters and whatever, they will get paid for their losses, and that is the purpose of insurance and setting up NAIC.

“Our motor is ‘Plowing the Farmer Back to Business, Plowing the Farmers into Prosperity’, and we settle claims.”

She said NAIC currently deals with thousands of farmers (Small, Medium, and Large scale farmers) across the country, adding that the corporation serves farmers with investment as little as N100, 000, and at the same time serves multinational farmers.

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Banking Sector

UBA Organises Capacity Building Forum

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UBA Insider dealings

As part of its commitment to support the growth and sustainability of micro, small and medium-scale enterprises (MSME) in the continent, the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, is set to organise the next edition of its UBA Business Series.

The UBA Business Series which is a monthly event, is an MSME Workshop as well as a capacity building initiative of the bank where business leaders and professionals share well-researched insights on best practices for running successful businesses, especially in the face of the difficult operating environment that dominates the African business landscape.

Through this initiative, UBA has been assisting with essential tips to help businesses re-examine their models and strategies and ensure that they stay afloat and remain thriving, a statement from the bank explained.

The topic for the next edition of the series is, “Managing Performance for Business Growth,” and it will be held today, via Microsoft Teams.

At this session, the Managing Director, Secure ID Limited, Mrs Kofo Akinkugbe, will be sharing useful tips and insights on the key strategies of performance management to boost business growth.

Akinkugbe is the founder of SecureID Nigeria, a MasterCard, VISA and Verve certified Smartcard Personalization Bureau and Digital Technology company. She currently serves as the Managing Director/CEO, Secure Card Manufacturing, – a Smartcard manufacturing plant producing high security identity cards and documents for the Banking, Telecoms and Public sectors across Africa and beyond.

UBA’s Head, SME Banking, Sampson Aneke said of Akinkugbe, “with her vast experience garnered over the years from various sectors, she will help business owners understand how performance management strategies can be effectively implemented to ensure business growth.”

He emphasised UBA’s commitment and deep passion for small businesses, which according to him, remains the engine of any developing economy adding, “We know small businesses are the backbone of the economy in every country. In many climes, businesses with fewer than 100 employees account for 98.2 per cent of all businesses. This no doubt captures the importance of SMEs to a thriving economy which is why UBA is committed to seeing them flourish.”

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