By Juliet Umeh
Banking industry is one of the sectors of the economy that has seen huge innovations in recent years. With the emerging new technology in the sector, the traditional banking landscape is rapidly giving way to a new one engendered by technology.
For instance, about 30 to 40 years ago, bank tellers used adding machines to calculate bank deposits. They used ledger cards, posted nightly, to keep track of account transactions and balances. In those days, if one needed to make a deposit or withdraw cash, a visit to the bank was inevitable.
However, today, technology has made almost everything possible, and most interestingly, at the convenience of bank customers. Deposits are done electronically as well as through the Automated Teller Machines, ATMs.
Financial transactions between business people are done at the touch of the button, thanks to rapid technological advancements.
Evaluating the transformations that have happened in the banking sector following the technology revolution in Nigeria in the past two decades, Head, African Fintech Foundry, Mr. Segun Adeniyi, at an event in Lagos recently, said the evolution of technology and the 4th industrial revolution is just about opportunity.
Adeniyi who spoke at African Fintech Foundry Disrupt 2019, organised by Access Bank Nigeria, said the evolution is about using the power of technology to harness the opportunities in Africa.
Also, Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank, Nigeria, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, said technology has changed everything and not only is this continuing, the rate of development and evolution is speeding up exponentially.
Wigwe recounted: “In the past, it could take a considerable amount of time for the cashier to perform countless calculations and the checking of ledgers to ascertain if the cheques presented were good for payment. The traditional banking environment did not provide opportunities for scalability. The processes were manual and in-branch, creating the need for brick and mortar branches with related expensive overheads, and low level of financial inclusion.”
Why banks must leverage technology
However, Wigwe challenged commercial banks in Nigeria on leveraging technology to improve their services to customers. He said banks can maximise opportunities offered by technology to remain competitive in the global market.
In his speech titled: The future of the intelligent bank, Wigwe said becoming an intelligent bank is no longer an option in today’s financial services, but a necessity. He noted that banks in Nigeria have done well so far but the future holds a lot more than what has been experienced.
He said: “Today, we are experiencing the fourth industrial revolution which uses the Internet of Things, and Cloud Technology to automate processes. This has enabled financial services providers to increase their digital offerings for customers so they can conduct banking transactions on mobile phones, the internet and at the ATM.
“The only waiting time today is how fast your internet connection is, but 5G, which has a faster connection, is already here.
“These technologies that brought about automation in the system, enable banks and Fintechs to now, grant credit in seconds.”
According to Wigwe, “Artificial Intelligence reviews legal documents. Before now, a manual review of 12,000 documents used to take up to 360,000 hours. Today, it is done in seconds, using Artificial Intelligence.
“Block chain can be used to execute smart contracts, eliminating manual costs of transactions while robotics technology is used to serve customers in banks.
“Only one decade ago, we could not have imagined such advances.
“There is so much that can be done with data. Big data analytics helps an intelligent bank understand its customers. Big data categorises customers and analyses their behaviour and needs.
“Such understanding improves product development and enables effective cross and up-selling.
“Cloud Technology has also been a game-changer for banks. It reduces server and infrastructure costs which is most appreciated in a country like Nigeria, where power generation is expensive and its availability is not usually guaranteed. Cloud technology enables the delivery of work from any location where programmers can be based in multiple countries even while working on the same project.
“Intelligent Banks are able to consider the impact of having an active online presence and social media for their business.
Banks can target social media for specific advertising ensuring they provide the right product and content to the right customer instead of marketing all products to all customers.
“In this sense, banking has become much more tailored and personal. Intelligent Banks partner with critical stakeholders to expand the frontiers of their business.
“At Access Bank, we are acutely aware that Artificial Intelligence is the new cool in banking offering ongoing opportunities to enhance convenience for our customers.
“We are in constant pursuit of being the best possible Intelligent Bank. Our applications of intelligent banking range from the review of legal documents, to conversing digitally with our customers.
Our TAMADA system presents a single chatbot experience for all our customers. The services are countless.
“Imagine getting weather forecasts and sports updates without human intervention. Or applying for a loan and receiving disbursement instantly? What about paying bills from the comfort of your sofa,” he added.