THEME: Consolidating and monetizing the gains of innovation
Now entering its sixth year as the region’s leading banking forum, AITEC Banking & Mobile Banking West Africa 2013 will address the key issues faced by the region’s increasingly dynamic financial services sector.
African banks have a great challenge in overcoming their heritage of colonial banking, which was designed to cater primarily for government, corporate and high-worth individuals. The bottom part of the pyramid has been badly neglected. Now that the mobile operators are setting the pace in terms of providing low-cost banking services, banks are scrambling to catch up. This they can do not only through technological innovation, but also through a customer-oriented corporate culture and service innovation.
The Challenge and Opportunities of Mobile
Mobile banking is the future, not a fad. Because most central banks are also tied into the old banking paradigm, they don’t fully understand the dynamics of mobile banking, worry about the risks involved and therefore resist it. No doubt they are also encouraged to do so by the banks who don’t want mobile operators encroaching into their space. Ghana is a notable exception. There, the Central Bank has taken the risk of allowing mobile operators to provide money transfer services – and it has benefited millions and reduced money transfer costs substantially. Money moves around the economy far more efficiently and quickly and in that sense, a higher level of financial inclusion has been achieved.
A New Era of Regional Banking
Political and business trends are both dictating an ever-quickening pace in regional banking developments. Political leaders in the Community have now provided the framework for substantial economic integration. The region is ripe for even broader regional banking systems. And major banks in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa are investing substantially in cross-border operations. All senior bankers now need think regionally rather than nationally in the systems the set up and the services they provide.
Regulation vs Innovation
Regulation and innovation have to find an optimum coexistence. In order to encourage innovation and financial inclusion, positive, creative regulation is needed, rather than restrictive regulation. And communication is the key, in order to avoid misinformation and misconceptions having a negative impact on the market.
Microfinance: Deepening financial services
MFIs have a vital role to play in achieving financial inclusion for the vast majority of the region’s population who remain unbanked. There have been some impressive pace-setters across the region and their business models provide valuable success case studies. However, others are struggling to meet their targets. These success and failure factors need to be evaluated to enable this sub-sector to develop a solid foundation for future growth.
Standards, Compliance and International Trends
For the region to offer truly world class banking services, it needs to learn from best practices internationally. Lessons from the work banking crisis must be learnt and appropriate steps taken to incorporate those measures that will most effectively achieve board requirements and business objectives. Important international standards are rapidly evolving and it is vital for the region’s banking leadership to understand them and their benefits.
When & Where
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