Modern in, traditional out? In the race of financial services, Fintech leaves African banks huffing and puffing to make it to the finish line.   

09 February 2022: There seems to be an ongoing financial revolution led by the likes of Chipper Cash, Paystack and others.This revolution is sponsored by the increase in mobile internet penetration and funding from foreign venture capitalists.

While the traditional financial service providers are scrambling to catch up, and even though they have put in some significant effort, there maybe a few more things that they could pull out of their hat.

According to a recent report "Africa’s Fintech Transformation: Traditional Banks can still Gain an Edge” by CR2, a Dublin-based banking software provider, For many years, the banks had their chance to transform the sector. But they were rather reluctant/slow until now, thanks to the competition posed by fintechs companies. Hence, he highlights some measures that could be taken by the banks to gain an edge in the fight for consumer attention.

Foreign investors have swarmed to the continent after the success story of M-Pesa in Kenya, which took the financial world by storm. They are bringing in billing of dollars to invest ion the fintech startups. Global partnerships with massive financial players like Visa and Paypal has only boosted the morale further and the momentum continues to grow in favour of African Fintechs.

The Banks have definitely not been sleeping through the revolution and have taken some powerful steps that have worked in their favor. As the new report by CR2 pointed out, some of continent's largest banks caught the frenzy early and have since begun to improve on their 'legacy infrastructure' whilst building new ones all in a bid to compete by offering novel digital products and services to their customers. Some of them have even resorted to partner with fintechs to launch online wallets and other payment services in order to expand their customer base. But there is more they can do.

In its capacity as an innovation partner selling technology to more than one hundred banks across Africa, CR2 recommended the following as a way African banks can gain an edge in the face of the digital revolution happening in the African financial sector:

  1. African banks should consider offering a seamless and user-friendly digital onboarding experience for their customers.
  2. They should consider providing multiple day-to-day payment options for customers, including innovative remittances and lifestyle banking.
  3. African banks should definitely broaden their service offerings to unbanked market segments.
  4. They should operate on both smartphone and USSD in order to expand access to segments of Africa’s population with and without Wi-Fi connectivity and mobile feature phones. To be fair though, BI Africa has observed that a lot of banks are already doing this. However, their services are often bad. So, they should consider improving on their internet and USSD services.
  5. Also, banks in Africa should connect to ATM access to continue to offer access to cash parallel to online payment options.
  6. They should choose a digital banking platform vendor that supports Open API banking.
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