By Prince Osuagwu, Hi-Tech Editor

Software giants, Microsoft, last week declared it is specifically tailoring a specialized cloud support service to help Nigerian financial services providers break even in business. 

The gesture forms part of its Roadmap to helping the country’s digital transformation. 

At a digital transformation roundtable it hosted for the financial services industry, FSPs, recently, the company said it is  uniquely placed to empower Africa’s FSPs by bringing together existing and new industry capabilities to deliver a more seamless, customised cloud-based experience. 

Marketing and Operations Director for Microsoft Middle East and Africa,    Hoda Younan, said  Microsoft’s Digital Transformation journey is mainly to accelerate meaningful transformation for Nigeria’s financial services providers.

According to Younan, “With deep security and compliance built in to meet the needs of the FSI, the proposed digital transformation roadmap future-proofs FSPs as they continue to manage unprecedented risks and grow rapidly with innovative business models.” 

He said with this targeted solution, Microsoft has already helped many FSPs successfully embrace change and unlock new value creation on their digital transformation journey. 

He added that “what we’ve seen in doing so is common thread that defines success for FSPs. These organisations view transformation as a journey that supports their staff to create the value the organisation seeks. 

“These businesses access this value by defining a clear vision and strategy, creating a collaborative company culture, and understanding their unique potential and capabilities, before turning to technology to transform the way they work. Put simply, technology is the tool. People are the focus. And more value is the outcome.”

Dissecting the factors driving the urgency to digitise,   Younan said recently, the African Financial Industry Barometer (AFIB) revealed that nearly 72 percent of banks have already launched digitalisation programmes as a priority for the year ahead. However, most of those surveyed feel that their digital maturity is still at the emerging stage. 

He said these FSPs need to accelerate transformation as a business priority.

Also, Ola Williams, Country Manager for Microsoft Nigeria, noted that there are several factors driving this urgency to digitise.

He said: “First, we’ve seen changes in employee work patterns that have shaped a hybrid workforce, as well as the increasingly sophisticated customer expectations for a 24-hour-a-day service at their fingertips with the same level of security as a physical vault,” she explains.

“Remaining competitive has seen a growing call for more sustainable, cost-effective business systems. Additionally, the urgency to digitise can also be attributed to increased regulatory scrutiny, a global surge in cybercrimes, and the rise of non-traditional FSPs in the form of FinTechs.”————————

This urgency is not only underpinned by the need for FSPs to remain operational and productive – it also addresses their goal to accelerate financial inclusion by extending services to unbanked markets through mobile tech solutions. 

Embracing an industry-specific cloud-based solution

“Our focus on providing services that facilitate a trusted cloud with pervasive intelligence allows FSPs to reimagine how they deliver payments, manage risk, empower employees, and deliver engaging customer experiences,” notes Williams.

This reimagining is powered by Microsoft’s smart cloud-based products, including Azure, Dynamics 365 intelligent business apps, the Microsoft 365 productivity cloud of industry leading apps, the Microsoft Power Platform offering tech solutions around data and builds, the Microsoft Teams business collaboration hub, and GitHub Enterprise code-repository service for developers.

Benefits delivered through Cloud for Financial Services capabilities

Microsoft’s roadmap offers an end-to-end integration of intelligent cloud-based products. Integration benefits include the ability to empower employees, deliver differentiated customer experiences, combat financial crime, boost security and compliance, and ease interoperability while unifying data.

In helping FSPs empower employees, Microsoft’s cloud enables organisation-wide communication and collaboration through secure digital channels, providing staff with access to key information from any location. By breaking down siloes, the plan streamlines all business processes.

The result is enhanced employee engagement and satisfaction and strengthened customer connections with these banking representatives. Exceptional customer experiences are further achieved through use of the cloud’s predictive analytics for a 360-degree customer view. This allows FSPs to anticipate and proactively address customer needs in a more personalised, relevant way.

Today’s increasingly complex regulatory environment, against the backdrop of market volatility brought on by the pandemic, means FSPs must prioritise compliance, being able to assess companywide exposure and risk across more often, with greater agility. Leveraging Cloud for Financial Services’ enterprise-grade analytics, FSPs will realise this level of agility.

It enables better regulatory-aligned management of sensitive data, records, and communication channels, while also offering the ability to simulate business scenarios to manage risks more accurately.

A huge focus is to help FSPs combat financial crime. They must be able to innovate at the rate of financial crime to reduce operational costs while protecting the organisation and its customers against losses and criminal activity.

As such, users can employ the cloud’s enhanced data analytics to identify outliers faster to respond to the newest criminal topologies, and to conduct ongoing risk scoring. Microsoft’s solution also helps FSPs enhance fraud-detection systems to add contextual information that will reduce false positive alerts.   

The last capability enabled benefit speaks to the need to modernise core banking systems and operations, such as payments, to boost customer experiences in an increasingly digitised data-driven economy. In streamlining operations and infrastructure, this benefit also helps FSPs save on costs and increase real-time business agility.

Understanding the driving factors to digitise gives context to the way that a trusted, tailored solution for Financial Services can deliver unique benefits to enhance competitiveness. “It’s clear that any FSP looking to modernise, automate, streamline, and secure processes and operations need look no further than a robust cloud-based ecosystem to achieve it,” concludes Younan.

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