How global COVID-19 pandemic served as wake-up call, ignited unprecedented digital transformation in Financial Services Industry – CIBN President, Ken Opara

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The President/Chairman of Council of the Chartered Institute Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Dr. Ken Opara on Tuesday said the global pandemic has been a wake-up call for the Financial Services Industry by exposing gaps in digital service provision and cost structures.

According to the CIBN President, the pandemic came with its challenges and opportunities. He noted that what was once considered ‘business as usual’ no longer exists all thanks to the pandemic.

L-R: Union Bank Chairman/Keynote Speaker, Farouk Gumel, CIBN 1st Vice President, Prof. Deji Olanrewaju, FCIB, Representative of President Muhammad Buhari & Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, CIBN President, Dr. Ken Opara, CIBN National Treasurer, Mrs Mojisola Bakare-Asieru & CIBN Registrar/CEO, Dr. ‘Seye Awojobi at the opening of the 15th Annual Banking & Finance Conference held at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja on Tuesday.

Opara revealed this on Tuesday in his opening remarks at the ongoing 15th annual Banking and Finance Conference organized by Institute in Abuja.

Themed: ‘Repositioning the Financial Services Industry for an Evolving Global Context,’ the Conference which commenced yesterday (Tuesday) at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja is a two-day event (September 13-14) and will end today (Wednesday).

“It is pertinent to say that the Financial Services industry and the world around us have changed faster in the past few years than at any time in our collective lives and will most likely continue to evolve even faster in the future. What was once considered ‘business as usual no longer exists, with the pandemic creating a period of unprecedented turmoil and opportunities.

“The global pandemic has been a wake-up call for the Financial Services industry, exposing gaps in digital service provision and cost structures. Covid-19 proved a powerful catalyst for change. Banking’s digital transformation accelerated beyond everyone’s imagination, as radically new ways of working remotely and serving customers facing dire circumstances were launched at a fast pace. Mobile app transaction processing rocketed. Cash and cheque usage dropped dramatically, replaced by high volumes of electronic and card payments. Business lending, to keep the economy afloat, was off the scale,” he said.

Speaking on the internet revolution of the early 2000s and the emergence of Financial Technology (FinTech) and how it has affected the banking landscape globally, the CIBN said: “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 improvedefficiency 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”.

Opara said with the evolving nature of the world, it has become imperative for the financial services industry to explore innovation, opportunities and most importantly reconfigure the business and operating platforms in order not to be left out or be caught unawares in the evolving world.

“As the world continues to evolve, the financial services industry will need to explore innovation and reconfigure its business and operating platforms, in some cases it would require making profound changes to succeed in the future.

“This year’s edition of the Conference aims to consider the forces that could significantly impact the overall landscape of the Financial Services Industry in a rapidly evolving world,” he submitted.

Dignitaries at the Conference include President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu represented by the Commissioner of Finance, Doctor Rabiu Olowo, Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele who all also doubles as the Chief Host, CEOs, seasoned bankers and industry stakeholders.

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