Time for African banks to form new partnerships with Fintech

By Nana Appiah Acquaye, Accra, Ghana

The Ecobank Group Executive for Operations and Technology, Eddy Ogbogu, has called for African banks to take a new approach to dealing with technology solutions companies.

Over the past decades relations between the continent’s financial and telecoms sectors have not always been cordial. It’s widely perceived that since the advent of fintech, most leading players in the financial sector are not too comfortable adopting tech solution and even seeing it as a threat to their business operations hence the need protect their turf.

However Mr. Ogbogu has a whole different perception about the adaptation of fintech solution by banks in Africa.  He called for new partnership when Biztechafrica caught up with him during the Ecobank Fintech Challenge held at the Ecobank Group Headquarters in Lome, Togo.

Biztechafrica: What’s your impression about the maiden edition of the Ecobank Fintech Challenge?

E.O: We were actually blown away, like I said in my introductory remarks nothing prevent us from what we saw. When we launch this, yes we knew quite a lot of innovation in Africa we knew a lots of talent in Africa. But when we launch it online we got more than 800 entries and they were quite good. But coming down to twenty (20) is not to say the rest are not good and even the twenty as you can see they are world class and of course we are calling them winners because the twenty are winners already and that what they are and so I am quite impressed and satisfied with what I have seen.  And like I said this is just the first and as we go along I am sure there will be an improvement and even those people who didn’t enter maybe the next one they will enter and their superior product might emerged just as we have seen today.

Biztechafrica: What did you mean when you called for a new partnership with Fintech?

E.O: You see time is gone and I don’t think we should be looking at Fintech as a disruptive as such or in competition with the banks. It is collaboration, now if you have a good product and we (Ecobank) have the platform already so we can bring these innovative products onto our platform and that becomes available to our customers automatically across the various countries where as if you don’t use our platform then you have to build alone country by country and so that’s the new approach and that’s the partnership we are talking about. Good product, good solution. Ecobank platform has a fantastic winning partnership.

Biztechafrica: Are you convinced that the current innovative solutions have the power to disrupt Africa’s financial sector?

E.O: I am a little bit reserved talking about it as a disruption, it is a transformation let call it this way because we want to transform the ways of doing things so if its transfer, if its remittances how fast can it be done? If it is opening of an account how fast can it be done? So it is all collaboration using the same technology this very good solutions now close to what we have then we can open an account just like how we are doing currently at Ecobank, opening account on the fly. Now customers can open accounts on their mobile phones in seconds and minutes.

Biztechafrica: What’s the main objective of the Ecobank Fintech Challenge, is it solely for countries that Ecobank operates in?

E.O: No, No as you can see we are not in South Africa we just have a sub branch in South Africa but we have someone from South Africa in the competition, we don’t have a physical presence in Algeria but somebody came from Algeria and off course there are some from the diaspora. You can see somebody from the US so that what it is, it’s for Africans because we believe in Africa, we believe in talents in Africa and we believe that it is only Africa that can lead itself forward. And technology should be at the centre of it.

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