The future of african banking is smart

Date: Tue, 06/07/2011 - 18:48

The future of african banking is smart

Electronic banking systems are opening doors for banks to extend their service reach and accelerating economic growth for unbanked african markets

Africa's financial services sector is being revitalised by employment of before unused banking technologies. In recent research on the drivers of African banking, conducted by IQPC, industry stakeholder quotes revealed that "Wireless and smartcard technologies are enabling the development of services in previously un-banked areas, helping to stimulate local economies and encouraging investment and tourist spend." Similarly, the providers of such banking applications showed confidence in the continent: "There is great potential for growth [in Africa], utilising new electronic banking systems, without having to significantly upgrade the existing infrastructure." Chip technology was recognised as a major enabler in risk management and wireless capability as the main facilitator in improving accessibility to banking services.
South Africa's unbanked population is estimated at more than 10-million people. According to FNB chief executive officer, Lorato Boakgomo-Ntakhwana, in 2009, just over 50% of Botswana did not have bank accounts. In Uganda the banking population is at a low 38% having a bank account and only 7% using more than one banking product. The challenges that banks in Africa contend with are often unique and burdened with inhibiting factors of poor infrastructure and an often low ratio of branch to population. Now, banking institutions are turning this challenge into opportunity by developing new focussed business models that for this unbanked sector.
One of the strategies is to implement branchless banking applications such as mobile banking. Mobile operators have broken into this market through the implementation of mobile money. In Kenya, where a decade ago only a mere 15,000 handsets were in use, a number which has risen to 15 million, the opportunity for accessibility is undeniable. To eliminate issues of poor accessibility to money transaction services for Africans, technology based solutions will be introduced in the form of strategies and products at Banking Technology Africa Summit, taking place 20 -23 June 2011 in Johannesburg, Sandton, South Africa. This event will present innovative applications that are commonly used in Europe and the U.S to curb costs, drive revenue, simplify operational processes and secure a healthy share of the consumer market.

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