President Mohammadu Buhari has urged the Banking Industry to come up with valuable innovations that would ensure global solutions reached indigenous customers.
Buhari gave the advice at the 15th Annual Banking and Finance Conference on Tuesday in Abuja, with the theme, “Repositioning the Financial Services Industry for An Evolving Glocal Context’’.
The Hybrid conference, organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), was an event which offers the banking profession a platform to engage with stakeholders across the industry and the economy on the developments affecting the industry and the economy in general.
The President said that his administration over the past seven years had through various initiatives supported the repositioning of the Nigerian economy within an evolving Glocal Context.
“In the new “Glocal” context, the role and significance of the finance industry cannot be overstated in driving economic prosperity.
“ The sector provides opportunities to create SME start-ups, expand existing business interests and create more jobs thereby pushing the local brand overseas to frontier markets.
“Therefore, repositioning the finance services industry involves valuable innovations to ensure global solutions reach local indigenous customers.
“The recently executed African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is a typical reference point.
“ The deal creates a continent-wide market embracing 55 countries with 1.3 billion people and a combined GDP of US$3.4 trillion.
“Its first phase, which took effect in January, 2021 would gradually eliminate tariffs on 90 percent of goods and reduce barriers to trade in services.
“ In repositioning itself, the finance sector would serve not just as an intermediary for lenders and borrowers but in creating a new ecosystem consisting of platforms where ordinary Africans can buy and sell their locally made products despite currency disparity as being practiced on the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS), a brainchild of Afrexim Bank,’’ Buhari said.
The President was represented by Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
He mentioned some of his administrations initiatives which had been supporting the repositioning of the Nigerian economy to include, support of Nigeria’s creative industry and indigenous Small and Medium-sized businesses as well as the agricultural sector which have enhanced the capacity of indigenous enterprises to compete with their counterparts from other countries.
This effort, he said, would be sustained and extended to more sectors of the economy.
He said that the resolution of global issues within the local context would continue to give impetus for economic prosperity in our local communities.
Buhari highlighted some of the key socio-economic issues which were currently being tackled at both local and global levels to include; Climate Change, Eroding Purchasing Power due to Inflation and Insecurity.
On Climate Change, the President said that the government had set plans in motion to significantly reduce greenhouse emissions from Nigeria, adding that more specifically, by 2030 it aimed to eliminate Kerosene Lighting as well as Short-Lived Pollutants in the Oil and Gas sector.
On Insecurity, he said that the government was committed to securing lives and property within the country and would not relent in ensuring a safe and secure environment for citizens as well as productive activities to thrive.
He said, “ Indeed, the fight to rid our country of banditry, kidnapping, and insurgency is being intensified at all fronts’’.
On Inflation, Buhari said that his administration had over the years introduced several policies to combat inflation including increase in Monetary Policy Rates as well as a 30 per cent mark up on savings rates.
He explained that these policies were geared toward mopping up excessive liquidity in the economy while encouraging savings and investment.
The President promised that his government would continue to cushion these adverse effects through its social safety net programmes.
Mr Farouk Gumel, Chairman, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, alleged that Nigeria’s financial services and tech sectors had to some degree abandoned many of her local compatriots.
He said that banks, bankers and regulators had been receiving numerous awards and had been ranked amongst the best in the world.
“Our systems and processes have made it exceptionally easy for our elites to bank globally and for global elites to bank in Nigeria.
“Let me put it in a different way, an investor in Norway will find it easier to use a Nigerian bank than a farmer in Ningi Local Government.
“Working for Tropical General Investments (TGI) in some of our rural operations, I have come to realise that – as we embraced a global system – we have somewhat abandoned many of our local compatriots. That is not only a loss for them. It is also a missed opportunity for our financial services industry to help create the growth that lifts us all to collective prosperity.
“This is why we are still talking about “financial inclusion” and how to bank the “unbanked” – after nearly 130 years since First Bank commenced operations in Nigeria.
“As leaders in banking, we are often drawn to focus on the latest global forces that are reshaping our industry, we connect with like-minded colleagues and debate how best to adapt the most recent global “best practices and trends”.
“We discuss how to address the challenges of the fintech revolution, we deliberate over how to draw the talent from a new generation that is more mobile and discerning in the workplace.
“Yes. In our board strategy sessions, we all strive to be “world class”.
“But as we hail our role as champions and strive to retain our position as industry leaders on a world stage, it is at our peril that we lose sight of the local element of what it means to be Global.
“So, over the next 2 days, let us once again ask ourselves: What is local?’’, he said.
Dr Ken Opara, President and Chairman of CIBN, said that the financial services sector had been transformed with the latest fintech solutions and modern trends.
“Over twenty years ago, with the internet revolution, we witnessed the emergence of new services, products and companies which replaced the previous ones.
“Now, we are in the digital age where technology has made a significant impact on every traditional industry, including the financial services industry, thereby transforming financial services with the latest fintech solutions and modern trends.
“This has greatly improved efficiency and speed of service delivery as well as provided a better customer experience.
“However, advancement in technology and innovation is bringing about another wave of revolution that will change the landscape of the financial services sector more than ever.
“As a result, the Financial Services industry would need to adapt to this much faster pace of change. Services, products, and technologies that were new and useful yesterday will not necessarily be so soon,’’ he said.
He said that the financial services industry would continue to explore innovation and reconfigure its business and operating platforms as the world continues to evolve, stressing that in some cases it would require making profound changes to succeed in the future.
Opara said however, that this year’s edition of the Conference aimed to consider the forces that could significantly impact the overall landscape of the Financial Services Industry in a rapidly evolving world.
He said that due to the complexity and scope of the theme, the discussions would be x-rayed along five sub-themes over the next two days.
The sub-themes are: Banking in Africa: The Role of AfCFTA and PAPSS, Nigeria’s Economy in the Last Five Years: Lessons Learnt and Choices to Make in the Next Five Years, Workforce Globalisation: Opportunities and Threats, Banking and Fintech: The Nexus and Opportunities, Climate Change: The Role of the Financial Services Sector.