Speaking out on banking and mobile money in West Africa
Over 30 local and international speakers participated as speakers at the AITEC Banking & Mobile Money West Africa Conference, held at the Eko Hotel, Lagos, in March 2013. Sean Moroney, Chairman of AITEC Africa, said that the programme achieves an ideal balance between local experience in innovative banking services and international best practice.
“The programme also strikes a balance between mainstream banking technology and systems and mobile money innovation. The conference has its roots in traditional banking technology but now also embraces the full range of banking channels, customer services and retail strategies, including mobile,” said Moroney.
A showcase of speakers
International speakers include Jerome van der Putt of SatADSL in Belgium, who made a showcase presentation on low-cost satellite communication services for financial institutions. Miguel Bedier of Experian MicroAnalytics in the UAE encouraged mobile money operators to broaden the range of financial services they offer in order to accelerate the adoption of mobile money and help achieve the Central Bank of Nigeria’s 'Cashless Society' targets.
Cloud-based services are increasingly important for banks and this will be covered in one of the conference sessions, where Akan Jacobs of Converge GCT made a lead presentation on 'Using the cloud to optimise your business practice'. The session on core banking operations had a lead presentation by Jerome Hoffman of Broadbridge Financial Solutions in the US: 'Operational best practice – Maximising efficiency through process automation'. Another of the sessions covered microfinance, with a lead presentation by Gregory Sheen from Liverpool John Moores University in the UK: 'Are credit unions the MFI solution of the future? Lessons from the West for West Africa'.
Mobile money was under the spotlight in several sessions, with a range of top-flight presentations: Brian Richardson, CEO of Wizzit, one of South Africa’s more successful payment systems, delivered an intriguing presentation entitled 'Mobile Banking – The good, the bad and the ugly: Lessons from seven years and seven countries'. One of Nigeria’s mobile banking pioneers, Peter Asolo, CEO of Petvini Global Concept, examined solutions for the slow rate of mobile money penetration in Nigeria. Chuma Ezirim, Group Head, eBusiness at First Bank, provided an assessment of the bank’s recent First Monie implementation. Chukwuma Igbogbahaka, CEO of ChoboBIG, asked: 'Banking and mobile money - Quo vadis Nigeria?'
And a former Nokia director, Peter Ollikainen, now Senior Vice-President of Mistral Mobile in Finland, spoke on 'Consumer access to mobile financial services: A challenge or an opportunity for banks?' This presentation was supported by one based on local experience by Emmanuel Agha, President of Product Development at Innovectives: 'Building an agency network: The tipping point for financial inclusion and mobile money take-off'. Mac Atasie, CEO of Nextzon Business Services, also examined agency banking, with an emphasis on the link with retailing: 'Winning models in agency networks for emerging mobile money services: The future of retailing'. Gansirey Seck, West African Area Manager for Ingenico, also spoke on agency banking for financial inclusion.
Sola Bickersteth, CEO of Nigeria’s One Network, a new player in agent network development, spoke on 'From Automated Teller Machine (ATM) to Agent Teller Network (ATN): The imperative of co-opeting for agents'. Akintunde Oyebode, Head of SME Banking at Stanbic IBTC Bank, encouraged a broader perspective beyond 'pure' mobile money to include 'real' financial services such as deposits, savings and lending.
Security aspects of mobile banking were covered by Dr Jonathan Aremu, Consultant to the ECOWAS Common Investment Market programme, who spoke on 'The importance of credit risk database development in mobile banking'. Obadare Peter Adewale, COO of Digital Encode in Nigeria, spoke on more general aspects mobile banking risk management. ‘Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, spoke on fighting cyber crime in Nigeria.
Barry Coetzee, CEO of iVeri in South Africa and one of Africa’s financial transaction doyens, encouraged local innovations, solutions and services, with a presentation entitled 'Why local is important for transactions'. Onajite Regha, Executive Director of the ePayment Association of Nigeria (EPPAN), took a broader regional perspective, looking at 'Creating market synergy in payment systems as a pivot for economic integration'.
Presenting on interoperability and practical experience
The following presentations examined the technologies and systems needed for effective transactions, including interoperability:
· 'Mobile money: Technology options to create a winning strategy' by James Ogada, CEO of Expert Edge, Nigeria
· 'The role of a neutral clearing house in processing mobile financial transactions' by Ike Nnamani, CEO of Medallion Communications, Nigeria
· 'Boundless communication: Data exchange for cash services' by Kunle Oye-Ighemo, Solutions Architect for GS1 Nigeria
· 'Achieving mobile financial service platform interoperability' by Lanre Osibona, CEO of InnovaTechNG, Nigeria
The key issue of regulation was covered by Simon Aderinlola, National Co-ordinating Consultant of WASPA Nigeria, who’s presentation, 'Bridging the mobile banking regulator-regulated divide: The minefield & goldmine' challenged both sides to think outside of the current regulatory box. The Central Bank of Nigeria was invited to participate in the conference at a high level of engagement in order to use it as an opportunity to dialogue with the payments industry.
Another highlight of the conference was a 'Feedback Workshop' to be hosted by Making Finance Work for Africa (MFW4A), where current payments supported by donors and development agencies were presented and industry players invited to critique then and provide feedback based on their practical experience.