Africa’s Banker Of Tomorrow: Armed With Fintech And Fuelled By Data

Africa’s Banker Of Tomorrow: Armed With Fintech And Fuelled By Data

By Nicholas Norbrook and Mark Anderson – From Theafricareport.com

The time is 6:02AM, the year 2026, the location Lagos Financial City. Fatima Abouzeid flails at her digital personal assistant to silence the alarm, which in return flashes her a miffed/not-miffed emoji and starts to warble the main news headlines of the day.

“Markets in Shanghai closed up today on news that the Chinese bullet train manufacturer Fujian Corp won the contract to connect Casablanca to Abidjan… Shares in Echobank rose after chief executive Rosa Lawal suggested the Lagos-based lender might consider a sweetened buyout bid from an interested consortium of Nigerian and South African banks… Energy supplier AfriMaterials announces a new solar farm next to the industrial estate of Tema… And don’t forget your 7:30 with Mr Solarin.”

Fatima sighs and rolls over. “Dammit. Dammit!” Lawal was playing with her. A veteran of the long war between the mobile phone companies and the banks on the continent, Abouzeid is now in the frontline of a new battle. The Nigerian/South African consortium and her own consolidated NorthAfricaBank are struggling to be top dog in the financial landscape. Echobank was the last big player up for grabs, and she had flown there to sound them out. It looked like she had company…

This is, of course, fantasy. There is no way a bullet train will soon cross the Sahara. The rest is in the realm of possibility. Technology, consolidation, fast-rising urban centres and changing industrial structures will all reshape African banks. So who will survive, and who will thrive?

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There are issues that may trip up today’s bankers, both from the current global economic malaise and from problems such as the correspondent banking drought caused by new global banking regulations. This hits African banks, which need partner banks to complete transactions for their clients in foreign countries. J.P. Morgan and Citibank have already cut ties to 500 foreign lenders, says Adebisi Lamikanra, a partner at the KPMG consultancy in Nigeria.

But in the longer term, the real threat to banks is from technology. It is now moving much faster than banks, which are “by nature conservative, bureaucratic and not known as being the most innovative of institutions,” according to Brian Richardson of South African financial technology company Wizzit.

HERE COME THE DISRUPTORSJust as disruptors like Uber and Airbnb are shaking up the taxi and hotel industry, new competitors want to eat the lunch of the banks in core banking functions: payments, storing value and credit. They will do it without bringing with them expensive ‘legacy’ infrastructure such as brick and mortar retail outlets. And they will use ‘big data’ to swiftly gauge creditworthiness. “In 10 years’ time, the technology will be so good,” says Andrew Nevin, chief economist at PwC consultants in Lagos, “that when someone applies for a loan, the only question you will ask is: ‘Can we access your data?’”

For Brett King, co-founder of United States-based banking app Moven, by 2025 the dominant form of bank account will be mobile. “It won’t even be close. Banks that are geared towards distribution of bank products and services using physical branches will be in rapid decline.”

Read the original article on Theafricareport.com