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Banks shouldn’t see FinTechs as competitors, but partners—Awojobi, CIBN boss

The Chief Executive Officer/Registrar of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Mr. ‘Seye Awojobi, has called on Nigerian money deposit banks to stop seeing operators of Financial Technology (FinTech) platforms as competitors’, rather partners in progress.

Speaking in an interview, he said “Banks should not see FinTechs as competitors. Rather, they should see them as partners and the partnership is also resting on what I said earlier-the digital culture is a way of life”.

“FinTech has provided amazing opportunities for us to grow as a country. It will be only mischievous to say that the FinTech companies have come to push the banks away. In a population of 180 million and you have 115 million that are potential bank customers, you will expect things that supports financial inclusion to be the focus. You will expect that attention will be given to things that support financial services spread and rapid business growth, rather than the rigid approach of the past.

“FinTech is not peculiar to Nigeria, it is a global concept. For Nigerian banks to meet the global expectation, FinTech is of essence to them. It is awesome for me that the drivers of innovation coming from even the financial services sector are fundamentally based on technology. Today, if there is no FinTech you can imagine where the banking sector will still be by now. So, for me they are partners.

According to him, “FinTech is not affecting only the banks; It is affecting other areas of the financial services sector and the economy as well. This was why when we held the World Conference of Banking Institutes in Nigeria last year, we emphasised the importance of life-long learning and the roles of technology. Today, you talk of blockchain technology and artificial intelligence even in managing banks. So the future of banking is actually in technology”.

Explaining more on a recent National FinTech Conference, the CIBN boss said “The conference is opening Nigeria’s FinTech space and all that has to do with FinTech to the global arena”. “These include innovations, creativity and ideas in Nigeria. You remember that Mark Zuckerberg came to Nigeria last year. For him to have the confidence to visit the technology hub in our country, it shows that the opportunities present in Nigeria cannot be overemphasised. The knowledge behind this conference, in terms of the capacity of the organisers and the institutions that are supporting it, is great.

“I am not too sure most countries will not see Nigeria as the first port of call when it comes to doing certain business. Last year, Digital Finance from Canada was part of the conference. This year, the conference cuts across several issues. Topics like InsurTech (insurance technology) have been incorporated into the discussion.

“The leading lights in financial technology all over the world are here for business and knowledge sharing. The conference is talking about the growth of the industry. It is not peculiar to the banking industry, other institutions and sectors are part of it. The regulators are part of it, because knowledge on various topics needs to be shared, and different partnerships are emerging from this conference.

“Today, we have the FinTech Association of Nigeria which came up after the last conference.  So what we are doing is to create a platform for further growth and mutual benefits for all sectors. The future of businesses in Nigeria is what we are pushing ahead,” Awojobi noted.