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Q&A with Ebuehi Francis

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Ebuehi Francis, Digital Transformation Consultant

What are the highlights of banking transformations in 2022? can you give us some major examples?

With the world coming out of the lockdown associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, banks have come to embrace remote working and the need to increase investments in digital technologies to adapt to the new way of working. Such technologies like Cloud Computing, mobile technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity are now mainstream technologies used to provide remote work capabilities, 24/7 channels/platforms for customer service delivery and tailored financial solutions for banking customers.

In Nigeria, 2022 witnessed an increase in Fintech funding which made them a competitive threat for traditional banks with their cheaper products and services. This saw consumers gravitating towards these Fintechs in large numbers. Some of these Fintechs include V-Bank, Kuda Bank, Flutterwave and more. We saw the traditional banks coming up with various strategies to fend off these Fintechs. Some of them created subsidiaries or sister companies to compete with these Fintechs. A case in point is GTBank and Habari.

With the increase in digital technology especially digital channels, tech savvy traditional banks such as GTBank, Access Bank, United Bank grew their electronic business income by an average of 9.3% compared to 2021. It is reported that a total of nine Nigerian banks generated N203.71 billion ($0.45 billion) from electronic business earnings in nine months of 2022. And this is expected to continue.

In your opinion, what are the transformation axes that are becoming more important for banks in the context of 2023?

1. Digital Transformation: Banks will need to invest more in digital technologies such as blockchain, mobile technologies, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning to improve service delivery, customer experience and business process efficiency.

2. Investments in and use of data driven/mining decision-making platforms: In this new age where data is king, this would be the difference between the winners and the losers. Banks would need to rely on data to make more informed decisions and gain insights into customer behaviour.

3. As the use of digital technologies increase and people become cashless, there is the need to ramp up Cybersecurity to protect the bank’s data from malicious attacks by hackers, spammers, and cybercriminals. Banks would need to protect their networks and data from unauthorized access

4. Open banking: There is a steady growth in the integration of banks with innovators in the financial services space and the increasing adoption of Application Programming Interface (API) based integrations in the industry. Banks should start providing the appropriate framework internally as this would improve their competition in the marketplace

5. With these new technologies, there is the need for banks to invest in the digital upskilling of their staff as these employees need to learn new digital skills and acquire relevant competencies needed for today’s work environment.

Based on your recent experiences, and if you have one piece of advice to give for the success of transformation projects, what would it be?

The success of transformation projects depends on several factors, including strong leadership, top management commitment, clear goals and objectives, effective communication, adequate resources and cultural transformation

Based on my recent experiences, I would say the most critical factor that is needed is strong leadership. The transformation project must be led by a strong committed leader and he should be able to sell the need for transformation and get the whole organisation to buy into it.

I have often seen CEOs delegate the transformation project to other management staff and just wait for weekly status reports. The CEO must be the executive sponsor of transformation project.

The CEO should also invest in instituting the cultural transformation required for the project to succeed. He must realise that the transformation project is a continuous exercise that requires adequate resources and commitment.

Finally, the CEO must be willing to take the risk inherent in this change and embrace change. With all transformation projects, comes a neccsary change in employee attitude, culture and mindset.

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