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Banking Sector urged to go digital to build resilience and sustainable growth post Covid-19

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Bankers from Sub Saharan Africa and China who attended the Huawei Sub-Saharan Africa Financial Services Industry Online Summit 2020 agree that digitisation of the sector will give it resilience against the current Covid-19 pandemic and enable sustained growth in the post Covid era.

The pan-African conference themed “Accelerating Digital Transformation, Enable Business Growth Again” was attended by 1200 delegates from across banks, telco operators, fintech and ICT services companies.

Opening the event, Liao Yong, vice president of Huawei Southern Africa Region, said advances in ICT present unique opportunities for the banking sector, especially when almost 70% of the region’s population don’t have a bank account.

“All of these ICT advances will be critical enablers to a thriving banking sector in Sub Saharan Africa. 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.” Liao said.

There has been a rapid uptake of mobile technologies in the region with strong economic growth in the past 2 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.

Speaking at the online event, Brett King, author of Bank 4.0, a New York-based mobile banking startup, said the behavioural changes that come with coronavirus further underpins 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. The reality is this is likely to accelerate a multi-decade trend we’ve already seen towards digitisation. So when we look at the architecture of banking moving forward and the real elements that have been accelerated during the coronavirus period, you can see that that shift to digital is creating much more aligned, some 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,” said King.

In China, bucking the decline in Q1 GDP, the financial sector recorded a 6% year-on-year growth. Analysts attribute this growing to the sector’s years of unremitting efforts in digital transformation.

Chen Kunte, former Chief Information Officer of China Merchants Bank and current Chief Digital Transformation Officer of Global Financial Services in Huawei’s Enterprise Business Group said digitisation will give the banking sector the resilience it needs in the public health crisis. Banking everywhere can’t come true without leveraging cloud, AI 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.

Banks from the region shared some case studies on digitisation in banking services in the region.

Lucille De Kock, Head of Data Analysis and Product Management at FNB, South Africa, introduced FNB’s fundamental shifts across all dimensions to transform the bank into a helpful, trusted and people centric money manager leveraging digital and data platforms.

According to Alex Siboe Wekunda, head of DFS, KCB, said 97% of all transactions are done digitally which lead to substantial growth during the pandemic. Luckily enough, we had invested well in our platform, so we’re able to handle the traffic that comes through this ecosystem. And Joshua Oigara, CEO and MD, KCB Group PLC, said KCB will continue accelerate that investment beyond just lending platform, which has been very successful.

Huawei works with over 1,000 financial institutions globally, including 6 of the world’s top 10 banks in the digital transformation voyage.

Liao concluded, “Our operations of over 20 years in Sub Saharan Africa enables us think global and act local by providing our clients in the region with tailored made solutions to make digitisation process painless and smooth, as if it is a tech company that happens to work in the financial sector rather than as a bank that tries to adapt disruptive technologies.”

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BUSINESS

FIRSTBANK EMPOWERS WOMEN THROUGH FIRSTGEM ONLINE COMMUNITY

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial inclusion services provider, has announced that its all-female online community www.firstgem.com.ng , offers mentoring, support and capacity building opportunities for all to create a new generation of financially literate women.

With the aim to increase its engagement and reach a wider audience, an online repository for its FirstGem product was created and designed to provide a virtual online community where like-minded women irrespective of where they are in Nigeria and abroad, gather to connect, grow and share knowledge on everything about lifestyle, parenting, career development, entrepreneurship, health, work and family. Financial empowerment and wealth creation ideas are shared to encourage women to play their part in providing financial support for their families.

The portal provides varied contents ranging from Blog stories to Vlogs, Newsletters, Chat rooms which are built on 6 pillars – Health, Wealth and Finance, Food and Recipes, Events, Entrepreneurship, Lifestyle and Beauty. The FirstGem online community presently has over 61,634 members drawn from all walks of life sharing ideas, insights and experiences.

According to Chuma Ezirim, Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, “FirstGem is suited for the Nigerian woman, and we are using this online community as the ideal opportunity to position the Bank’s gender initiatives to meet the required needs on a wide range of issues affecting women from lifestyle, skills acquisition, finances, wealth acquisition and management, business support, etc.

We encourage all women to join the community by signing up via this link https://firstgem.com.ng/community to enjoy this experience.
FirstGem is a gender specific account designed to meet the needs of women, aged 18 years and above.

It is targeted at a broad spectrum of women, working professionals, entrepreneurs and MSMEs with a view to promoting growth via an array of benefits, from free business advisory services, regular information or insights on business opportunities in various sectors and industries, as well as mouth-watering discounts at partnered stores and outlets.FirstGem has successfully empowered women in states across the geo-political zones in Nigeria and the UK.

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FBNHoldings wins World Finance Best Corporate Governance in Nigeria Award

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Nigeria’s leading financial services group and holding company, FBN Holdings Plc, has won the 2020 Best Corporate Governance in Nigeria Award by the World Finance. World Finance is renowned for its comprehensive coverage and analysis of the global financial services industry, international business, and the global economy.

FBN Holdings Plc is winning this award for the second consecutive year on the back of its strong corporate governance practices and outstanding leadership in the Nigerian financial services industry

Commenting on the award on behalf of FBNHoldings, UK Eke, MFR, its Group Managing Director said; “winning the award in quick succession is a demonstration of not only the strength of our corporate governance practices but also its resilience. As a holding company, we emphasize the highest standards in corporate governance across all operating entities in our quest to deliver value to our numerous stakeholders”

For the past thirteen years, World Finance has been celebrating corporate achievements in the areas of corporate governance, innovation, and market leadership in the financial services sector across all the regions of the World.

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FIRSTBANK PRESENTS DEVICES TO LAGOS STATE TOWARDS DRIVING 1MILLION STUDENTS TO E-LEARNING  

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s leading financial inclusion services provider on Thursday, 11 June 2020, presented 20,000 units of e-learning devices to the Lagos State government at the State House in Marina, Lagos. The devices are planned for distribution to school children.

 

With the gesture, the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu said the State had found a “real development partner” in FirstBank, noting that the intervention came at a time the Government was massively deploying technology to transform the conventional mode of teaching and learning.

 

The presentation of these devices which is also in partnership with Robert & John (an edu-tech company that owns Roducate) is part of activities implemented to close the gap caused by the disruption in children education’s due to schools’ closure, following the COVID-19 pandemic. So far the Bank has enabled over 10,000 free sign-ups to the Roducate e-learning platform with the goal to empower one million students.

 

“When we were developing our vision to change the face of education in Lagos, we knew from the outset that we could not achieve much progress in improving the quality of learning without using technology as a strong enabler. So, it is not out of place that we are witnessing more infusion of technology in learning and this intervention by FirstBank could not have come at a better time,” said Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Governor of Lagos State.

 

“It feels great when you have people and organisations share in your vision and working with you to realise it. I’m glad to say that we have found a real development partner in FirstBank, which has supported us to actualise the vision we have signed to achieve. Many years back, nobody foresaw Coronavirus (COVID-19) would come and disrupt our ways of life. These devices will be useful to our pupils in the current circumstances we have found ourselves.”

 

“FirstBank and all technical partners that worked on this project have written their names in the heart of students that will be using the device to learn. They will be forever grateful for passing the future to them.”

 

 

The e-learning device is configured in line with the government’s accredited curriculum for primary, secondary and tertiary schools across various fields of academic endeavours, such as science, commercial and arts. It is built to promote cost-effective learning as there is minimal need for internet connectivity, whilst learning on the device is on-going.

 

Speaking on the presentation, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer, First Bank of Nigeria Limited said “the e-learning initiative aligns with our Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability initiatives and falls under one of our key strategic pillars, Education.”

 

“We are excited to promote education and have consistently demonstrated this in our support of 10 universities and 3 secondary schools on infrastructure projects; our support of 10 universities with professorial Chairs and provision of financial literacy, entrepreneurial and career counselling to over 80,000 students in over 80 secondary schools in the country”, he added.

 

The Bank has also collaborated with IBM and Curious Learning to ensure the e-learning initiative swiftly moves across the country to school children and individuals with the need to promote the pursuit of knowledge, irrespective of age.

 

The partnership with IBM, offers the Digital-Nation Africa program, an online youth-focused learning programme that enables innovation and skills development on emerging technologies through focus areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Coding, Cloud, Internet of Things, Blockchain, Data Science and Analytics, and Cybersecurity whilst Curious Learning offers academic-based contents for students aged 3-8, using fun, self-guided learning apps to help them with their cognitive skills at a fundamental level.

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