by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG – EXPERTS have touted the digitisation of banking to boost the sector’s resilience against the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis and enable its sustained growth in the post-COVID era.
This has been the prevailing sentiment at the Huawei Sub-Saharan Africa Financial Services Industry Online Summit 2020.
Bankers from Sub Saharan Africa and China participated at the event themed “Accelerating Digital Transformation, Enable Business Growth Again.”
Some 1, 200 delegates from across banks, telco operators, fintech and information and communications technology (ICT) services companies participated at the pan-African conference.
Liao Yong, Vice President of Huawei Southern Africa, said advances in ICT presented unique opportunities for the banking sector, especially when almost 70 percent of the region’s population did not have a bank account.
“All of these ICT advances will be critical enablers to a thriving banking sector in Sub Saharan Africa,” Yong said in his opening remarks.
“As we can see, the merging of these two curves of ICT and banking services is powerful. But how much we can unleash the power, depends on how much and how soon banking sector goes digital,” Yong said.
Brett King, author of Bank 4.0, a New York-based mobile banking startup, said the behavioural changes that came with COVID-19 further underpinned the needs for digital transformation in banking sector.
“The declining use of physical branches is likely for many customers to remain a permanent feature of their lives,” he said during the online event.
“The reality is this is likely to accelerate a multi-decade trend we’ve already seen towards digitization,” King added.
He said the architecture of banking and the real elements accelerated during the COVID-19 periodindicated a shift to technologywas creating much more aligned digital experience.
“This basically brings us to a new model of banking…we moved to this low friction banking embedded in the world around us,” King said.
There has been a rapid uptake of mobile technologies in the region with strong economic growth in the past two decades.
According to statistics by GSMA, 4G, mobile broadband technology, adoption will overtake 2G in 2023 and the total of unique subscribers in Sub Saharan Africa will reach 600 million by 2025, representing half the region’s population.
Chen Kunte, the former banking executive and now Chief Digital Transformation Officer of Global Financial Services in Huawei’s Enterprise Business Group, said digitisation would give the banking sector the resilience it needed in the public health crisis.
He said banking was no longer feasible without leveraging cloud, artificial intelligence and Big Data.
“We need to restructure banks’ ICT platforms from legacy architecture to cloud-based, open architecture by building AI-Powered and Data-Driven platforms to expand the way financial institutions engage and interact with their customers, and accommodate more innovative business models and service scenarios,” Chen said.
– CAJ News