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FinTech and New Face of Banking

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Banking has evolved with technology. The rise and adoption of Financial Technology (FinTech) in tandem with the boost in the subscription level of mobile phone users in the country has helped to redefine the banking ecosystem. LUCAS AJANAKU reports that this rapid development can bring the unbanked into the banking sector in line with the financial inclusion and cashless policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Mr Aderemi Esan is very excited about the development in banking in the country.

According to him, he now pays virtually for everything on his mobile phone, a development that has taken him away from the long queues both at automated teller machine (ATM) points and the banking halls.

“I pay for evrything, including my son’s school fees within the comfort of sitting room. I also transfer money to my aged parents tresslessly on my phone,” he said.

Over the past four years or thereabout, there has been a dramatic change in the face of banking in the country. The lenders have continued to innovate with short codes to do almost everything on the go.

Executive Director, Lagos Business Directorate, Wema Bank, Folake Sanu, captures this development during the unveiling of the lender’s ALAT Digital Bank in Lagos.

She said: “With the shift to all things mobile, ALAT powered by Wema Bank, could not have come at a better time. Over the last decade, we have witnessed how technology has revolutionised the financial sector. Indeed, many products out there in the financial market claiming to redefine the customer’s banking experience are simply making things more cumbersome.

“At present, there isn’t that product that really captures the need of the millennial – the digitally savvy generation (Generation Y as they are fondly called) that are becoming the fastest growing segment in the world and in effect impacting economies and industries across the globe.

“The millennials live in a digital world and are used to digital channels and social media to meet their digital lifestyle. They are in constant need of a 24-hour banking service that would fit into their lifestyles; a bank they can take with them, one without borders that offers them the opportunity to transact business anytime, anywhere and any day.”

Why banks should change

Founder, CWG Plc & Entrepreneur in Residence at CBS, New York, Austin Okere asked why after centuries of conservatism in receiving deposits and making loans, banks should change.

He said there are two main issues stirring the yearning for change: The first being that it is a very difficult club to join, and hence the large population of unbanked adults. Secondly, even for the members of this elite club, the relationship is acutely skewed in favour of the banks; naturally so, as they have carried on as protected monopolies with no serious challenge or competition, resulting in no significant innovation over the decades.

Banks biggest threat

Centuries of relatively significant higher returns, even in the midst of economic downturns that adversely affect the real sectors has engendered an attitude of invincibility and pomposity, characterised by a loss of touch with their customers. Considered too big to fail, they take it for granted that they will be bailed out with taxpayers’ money in the event of any missteps – a perfect prey for disruption, he added.

FinTech – new kid on block

Today, there has emerged a powerful force of challenge from financial technology companies or FinTechs, as they are more popularly referred to. The promise of FinTech is great. It is shaking up a stodgy banking system and helping to build a more efficient one, especially for consumers and small businesses.

Emerging markets show way

Okere who also serves on the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Innovation and Intrapreneurship, said for years, emerging economies have looked up to developed countries for ideas about how to manage their financial systems. When it comes to FinTech though, the rest of the world will be studying the experience of the emerging markets, embodied by the widely successful MPESA mobile money system, championed by Safaricom in Kenya. MPESA has made it possible for a large swathe of the population to gain financial inclusion by providing the opportunity to transact financial services vide the mobile phone, on a continent where typically 70 per cent of the population is unbanked. MPESA today has more than 60per cent of Kenya’s 33 million mobile users; not bad for a service which was only launched in 2007. Similar applications have metamorphosed across Africa.

In Nigeria the Yello Mobile Account, jointly offered by ICT giant CWG Plc and GSM major MTN, added over 6million accounts to an early adopter, Diamond Bank, within the first year of launch. Mobile Money services are today generating 6.7 per cent of Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP).

China leads in FinTech

According to him, by just about any measure of size, China is the world’s leader in FinTech. It is by far the biggest market for digital payments, accounting for half of the global market, according to the Economist Magazine. A ranking of the world’s most innovative FinTech firms gave Chinese companies four of the five top slots in 2016. The largest Chinese FinTech company, Ant Financial, has been valued at about $60billion, on par with UBS which is Switzerland’s biggest bank. Today, digital payments account for nearly two-thirds of non-cash payments in China, far surpassing debit and credit cards.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lenders in China grew from 214 to over 3,000 in 2015, and P2P loans increased 28 fold from 30billion yuan in 2014 to 850b yuan in 2016. Alibaba’s four year old Yu’e Bao fund with $165.6billion has emerged as the world’s largest, overtaking JPMorgan’s US government money market fund, which has $150billion.

Future of banking

According to Austin, there are indeed five major forces at play in this space. They are the banks – traditional and established, best with cash and ancillary instruments; FinTechs – the new kid on the block, disrupter, mostly telecom roots, best with digital currencies and mobile services; regulators – central banks, regulating traditional banks; and communication commissions, responsible for telecoms regulation (and thus FinTechs); currencies – traditional, such as cash and cheques; or digital, such as bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies; and customers, and the weight of their new found voice. Typically, they clamour for whatever will give them convenience and lower costs.

Customers are the most significant force, and represented by the outermost sector of the concentric circles, he said, adding that they tend more towards a preference for digital currencies, the FinTechs will tend to assume a more prominent role in the new face of banking, and the regulatory regime will inadvertently tend towards the communication commissions under whose purview the FinTechs fall.

This will introduce a regulatory imbroglio, as future ‘huge banks’ may fall outside the regulatory ambit of central banks (as seems to be the case with the MPESA mobile money platform, through which Kenyans transacted $28billion in 2015, representing about 44 per cent of the country’s GDP. Safaricom, the telecoms promoter of MPESA ironically falls under the regulation of the Communications Authority of Kenya rather than the Kenyan Central Bank), Okere said.

He said if the customers however, maintain a strong appetite for traditional instruments of financial transactions such as notes and coins, cheques and others, then the current status quo will remain. The face of banking will thus be more of the same, and the regulatory authority will continue to be central banks. Between these two positions may be many variants, depending on the appetite and preferences of customers, and the pace at which they are willing to embrace change.

Retailers embrace financial services

FinTechs are not the only ones challenging traditional banks for turf. Retailers are also jumping into the financial services fray. For instance Amazon has launched Amazon Cash, a way to shop its site without a bank card. The service allows consumers to add cash to their Amazon.com balance by showing a barcode at a participating retailer, then having the cash applied immediately to their online Amazon account. This product is meant to appeal to the those who get paid in cash, don’t have a bank account or debit card, and who don’t use credit cards.

Google is also rolling out a new integration on mobile. Users of the Gmail app on Android will be able to send or request money with anyone, including those who don’t have a Gmail address, with just a tap.

Banking going mobile

In most emerging markets and developing countries, the current formal financial system only reaches a minority of the working-age adult population. Smallholder farmers, self-employed households, and micro-entrepreneurs have to rely on the age-old informal financial mechanisms such as rotating savings clubs, moneylenders, and pawnbrokers. These mechanisms can be unreliable and very expensive. In Nigeria for instance 84.6million people, accounting for 47 per cent of the population are unbanked. In sharp contrast, mobile phone penetration is very high at 94.5 per cent; a perfect set-up for the FinTechs to exploit in their mobile dominated financial services offering.

For policymakers from the global south, the digitalisation of retail payment systems and financial services has become an important economic development priority. It offers the prospect of reaching far more people at far lower costs with the broader range of financial services they need to build resilience and capture opportunities.

The 2015 yearly gathering of some 300 central bankers and policymakers from 90 countries who have formed the Alliance for Financial Inclusion, dedicated the bulk of the agenda to explore such innovations, which could deepen formal financial inter-mediation of their economies.

Imagine a world where all money is digital. Instead of carrying coins and notes in their purse, people would keep digital currency units in electronic wallets on phones, watches or other electronic devices. All of this could happen digitally the way cash is handed over today; in real time, irreversibly, with no additional fees.

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.

Telecommunications

FG Lifts Ban on New SIM Cards’ Issuance

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The federal government yesterday reversed its policy banning the sale of new Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, in agreement with industry stakeholders, also yesterday revised the National Digital Identity Policy for SIM card registration.

According to him, the activation of new SIM card, banned in December last year, will begin in April.

Pantami directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to ensure the provisions of the National Digital Identity Policy for SIM card registration are strictly followed by all operators and subscribers.

He said the implementation of the policy and issuance of new SIMs and other suspended activities would resume on the same date, provided that verification had been completed and the guidelines fully adhered to.

According to a statement by the Technical Assistant (Information Technology) to the Minister, Dr. Femi Adeluyi, an earlier policy was approved on February 4, 2020, while the revised policy was developed in early March 2021. The policy was further improved and endorsed for implementation by President Muhammadu Buhari on March 26, 2021.

According to the statement, the final amendments to the revised policy, based on the directives of Buhari to make the use of the National Identification Number (NIN) mandatory for all SIM registration, were completed on April 14, 2021.
The policy includes guidelines on new SIM acquisition and activation, SIM replacement, new SIM activation for corporates and Internet-of-Things/Machine-to-Machine (IoT/M2M), among others.

The statement said: “For the corporate registration, institutions will be required to appoint a telecoms master (at the minimum of an executive management level) to provide the operational primary NIN representation. The telecoms master will also be responsible to ensure that the users provide their NINs to serve as a secondary NIN.

“For IoT/M2M activations, SIM security protocols would be implemented on the SIM profile to ensure that SIMs can only be used for point-to-point data services specific to the URL they are working with. All other services will be barred.”
Pantami stated that progress had been made in the NIN registration process.

“Nonetheless, the federal government is committed to supporting all Nigerians and legal residents to obtain a NIN. The biometric verification process has been slower than anticipated, owing largely to the non-adherence of many previous SIM biometric capture processes to the NIMC standards.

“The revised policy will ensure that operators conform to the required standards for biometric capture. The guidelines in the policy have been painstakingly developed and while they are thorough, it should be noted that they have been developed that way in national interest since the SIM is essentially a national resource. Citizens and legal residents are encouraged to bear with the government as the process has been developed in the best interest of the country,” the statement added.

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E-commerce

Walmart eCommerce Sales to Grow by 21% in 2021 to $65 Billion, Nearly a Sixth of Amazon’s $367 Billion

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A massive boom in click-and-collect trends is expected to accelerate Walmart’s pandemic-driven momentum through 2021.

According to the research data analyzed and published by ComprarAcciones.comWalmart’s online sales will grow by 21.2% to $64.62 billion in 2021. Its share of US online sales will rise from 6.7% in 2020 to 7.1% in 2021.

Based on the latest NRF ranking, Walmart is the world’s biggest retailer, followed closely by Amazon. Its total sales for 2020 – both online and offline – amounted to $559 billion, more than $200 billion ahead of Amazon’s figure.

Click-and-Collect Purchases will Grow by 15% to $83 Billion in 2021

Walmart’s US online sales for 2021 will almost double eBay’s estimated $38.67 billion. They will also be higher than the combined total of $60.59 billion that Best Buy, Target and The Home Depot will generate.

However, the big box retailer will be far behind the top US online marketplace, Amazon. Amazon’s sales are projected to reach $367.19 billion, nearly six times the Walmart total. Its share of US online sales will increase from 39.8% to 40.4%. Third-party vendors on the platform will grow sales by 16.5% to $220.39 billion. That will be 60% of total sales.

Among the factors driving Walmart’s growth is its huge brick-and-mortar footprint which drives online sales via click-and-collect. It has more than 4,700 stores in the US and 90% of Americans live within a 10-mile radius of one of them.

The click-and-collect trend saw significant growth in 2020. According to an eMarketer report, US shoppers made purchases worth $72.46 billion using the method. Compared to the 2019 total of $35.02 billion, the figure marked a growth rate of 106.9% YoY. It accounted for 9.1% of all online purchases, up from 5.8% in 2020. The growth is expected to carry into 2021. Total sales are also set to rise by 15.2% to $83.47 billion.

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Technology

Service Robots to Hit $30B in Sales by 2022, a 30% Increase in Two Years

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Unlike the industrial robotics sector, service robots have received a boost from the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to data presented by BuyShares, the entire market is expected to continue growing strongly and hit over $30bn in sales by 2022, a 30% increase in two years.

Americas Lead in the Use of Service Robots, Entire Market to Hit $12B Value in 2022

Recent years have witnessed a surge in the use of service robots, as they offer increased productivity and convenience in both professional and private settings. The entire market is divided into two main segments. Commercial robots are used to perform tasks in a business environment, like medical robots and automated guided vehicles used in warehouses.

Personal service robots include convenience robots, which perform tasks like cleaning and vacuuming, and entertainment robots, such as toys and photography drones.

In 2018, the entire market generated $13.7bn in sales volume, revealed the Statista survey. This figure surged by almost 70% in the next two years, reaching $23.1bn in 2020. The growing demand for service robots is expected to continue this year, with the sales value rising by another 17% YoY to $27bn. By the end of 2022, this figure is forecast to jump by another $3bn.

Statistics show the service robotics market is led by the Americas, with an estimated sales value of $10.8bn in 2021, up from $7.4bn before the pandemic. This figure is forecast to jump to over $12bn in 2022.

As the second-largest region, the Asia Pacific is expected to hit almost $7.4bn in sales volume in 2021, a 20% jump in a year. The European market follows with a $7.3bn value.

Medical Robots to Generate One-Third of Total Sales Value

Statistics show that most service robots are used in the medical industry, expected to generate almost $9bn or 33% of total sales value this year. In the next twelve months, this figure is set to jump to $10bn. Technical innovations and demographic developments drive the market growth of these robots.

Robotic technologies can be more precise and flexible than human surgeons, making robot-assisted surgery a popular option. Since they are immune to infectious diseases, medical robots have also been implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are also widely used in diagnostic, rehabilitation, and nursing care.

Statistics show the Americas dominate the medical robot’s market. However, due to aging populations, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to witness the most significant growth in the future.

Convenience robots for domestic tasks ranked as the second-largest segment, with $6.7bn in sales value in 2021. This figure is set to reach almost $7.5bn next year. These robots are increasingly finding their way into households worldwide. Packed with different capabilities, they can make everyday life more comfortable. Statistics show the Asia-Pacific region is the leading market for convenience robots. However, the largest producer, iRobot, is headquartered in the United States.

As the fastest-growing segment of the commercial service robotics market, logistics is forecast to hit over $3.9bn in sales volume this year, up from $3.1bn in 2020. The pandemic fuelled eCommerce surge continues driving demand for logistics robots, as they help automate and optimize operations, enabling higher precision, lower costs, and faster delivery times.

The Asia-Pacific region is forecast to witness the biggest increase in sales volume. However, Europe is expected to maintain its position as the region with the most sales of logistics service robots.

Statistics show the entire logistics robots industry is set to continue growing and reach $4.5bn in sales by 2022.

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