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Open Banking Nigeria initiative’ll fasten financial inclusion campaign—Olowe

Top official of a new group of banking and financial technology experts, Adedeji Olowe, has averred that apart from the fact that the emergence of Automated Teller Machines (ATM) quickened access to financial services to the unbanked, new force emerging with latest applications will deepen financial inclusion.

He stated this while unveiling the Open Banking Nigeria (OBN) initiative clinically designed and tailored to improve banking experience in the country in Lagos.

Olowe recalled some banks went as far as contributing money to create a shared platform in Interswitch and argued that “For the first time, customers could visit any bank’s ATM and withdraw cash, transfer money and buy airtime, among other transactions they could do, without thinking if the terminal belonged to their bank or not”.

“Banks have subsequently worked together to standardise on Point of Sale terminals, NUBAN accounts, Bank Verification Number, watch-list, etc,” he added.

“The Open Banking Nigeria initiative is being driven by a group of banking and FinTech experts who are committed to the expansion of innovation within the Nigerian financial space.

“The initiative is being driven under the umbrella of Open Technology Foundation (OTF), a not-for-profit, group in partnership with eMaginations, Flutterwave, Teamapt, 2i Lab, Kinexus, Wallet and Paystack.

In his keynote presentation during the launch in Lagos, Management Consultant, Blue Advisory, Opeyemi Ndukwe, argued that the nature of the current challenges and opportunities in the financial industry and how collaboration and partnership could take the sector to the next level.

Ndukwe noted that the concept of open banking has to do with a situation when individuals can provide banks and other online service providers with secure access to their account(s) so that they can transact and manage their finances in ways best suited to them.

According to him, countries such as Australia, Hong Kong, United Kingdom and Nigeria were at various stages of review, design and implementation of Open Banking platform.

He made it clear that “Open Banking Nigeria API standard was not a product but a set of standards developed collaboratively between banks and FinTechs to guide how they open up their API gateways to FinTechs and customers”.

“The push for open banking has been gathering steam in Nigeria since June 2017 when the Open Banking Nigeria initiative was founded. Unlike the other financial jurisdictions where open banking is backed by regulation or law, the Nigerian initiative is driven by advocacy as there is currently no regulatory demand on banks to upgrade. Nevertheless, the Nigerian banking customers, who are part of the global digital phenomenon, are asking tough questions from their banks as to why they cannot have the same benefits as customers in other countries.”

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