7 January 2019

Enabling the digital economy – what does this mean for Africa?

SWIFT and BankservAfrica event focuses on the future of financial services in Africa

We’re entering a new phase of financial services in which financial institutions must re-appraise and re-engineer their business models to suit the evolving needs of their customers. To do so, they will need to ensure that banking services meet the customer wherever they are, embedded in the products and channels they choose to use.

This move towards contextual financial services was one of the main topics addressed at the BankservAfrica and SWIFT event held on 28 November 2018 for the financial services industry under the theme ‘Enabling the Digital Economy – What does this mean for Africa?’

BankServ Africa

Examining the outcome of discussions at the 2018 Sibos conference in Sydney, the event revealed that evolving customer needs are driving major changes in financial services, supported by technological innovation and appropriate regulation. Customers are influencing digital transformation through their expectations for a highly personalised experience and immediacy of service.

The payments landscape is changing fast, driven by evolving customer requirements and emerging technologies that enable banks to deliver on these. In an increasingly competitive market, financial institution need to be able to offer seamless payments services at both a domestic and international level.

Alain Raes, Chief Executive Officer for EMEA and Asiac Pacific, SWIFT

Delivering contextual financial services will require leveraging customer data, for example knowing to offer a home loan when a customer starts to search online for properties for sale. There is therefore a need for open data or regulated access to data in different pools. Companies will need to be cognisant of consumer rights and relevant rules and regulations during the use of this data in order to win trust and ensure the customer provides access to the appropriate information required for a service.

BankServ Africa

Leveraging the data will require the use of a number of new technologies, including cloud, automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence to optimise the customer experience. As the industry becomes ever more digitally connected, the systemic risk increases and companies will need to manage the threat of cybercrime. To mitigate risk, it is vital to know where critical data lies and take the appropriate steps to protect it through technology, educating employees, improving processes, thinking like an attacker and learning from industry incidents.

Unbundling the customer experience is a complicated thing to achieve. In China, the best experience has not been driven by banks. However, there is an opportunity for banks to develop a curation platform that is going to work for the community. We need an Uber experience but with smoother admin behind the scenes.

Chris Hamilton, BankservAfrica Chief Executive Officer

Ultimately, this enhanced customer experience needs to be supported and enabled by more nimble, agile regulation that allows for the adoption of the latest technological innovations and mitigates the risk of isolated networks.

BankServ Africa

SWIFT’s global payments innovation (gpi) service has raised the bar for cross-border payments and is set to become the norm by 2020, delivering faster, more transparent and traceable payments to banks and corporates around the world.

Alain Raes, Chief Executive Officer for EMEA and Asiac Pacific, SWIFT

The presenters and panellists agreed that the transition to contextual financial services will take time, but it will happen. Creating an experience as real-time and seamless as cash  can only be done by coming together as a community to answer the customer need – to co-create and come up with solutions that are interoperable. It is about collaboration and information sharing, taking shared responsibility for adapting appropriate regulation and responding to cyber threats.

The aim of this conference was to encourage open debate and discussion about the future of financial services in Africa. Banks need to be aware of the changes taking place, consider adapting their business models or partnering with new players, and make sure that the customer first mind set permeates their organisations. The only thing that is certain is that the status quo is not the model for the future.

Interested in attending a SWIFT event in Africa? Join us at the African Regional Conference on 18-20 June 2019 in Accra, Ghana.

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