Head of Retail Banking at FBN Bank, Allen Quaye, has stressed the need for banks and financial technology firms (fintechs) to intensify their partnership efforts so as to stay competitive and meet the ever-changing needs of customers.
According to him, fintechs have brought new ways of conducting financial transactions, providing digital solutions that are faster, more efficient and cost-effective; and that banks need to leverage these innovations to offer better services to their customers.
As technologies continue to disrupt the financial industry, such partnerships, he said, will enable cross-sector collaborations with the ability to leverage relevant key infrastructure. Additionally, it will facilitate combining strengths of the banks, which have a deep understanding of the industry, with the agility and expertise of fintechs.
“As banks, we have our strengths and weaknesses. Our strengths include broad customer bases, several physical branches for clients to walk to in terms of advantages, as well as some tailor-made products that suit the needs of businesses.
“However, the current situation is that people do not want to walk into branches; and some of our products too do not meet their expectations, so that raises the question of what alternative can we give them. And that is where technology and fintech come into play, since there are certain services we cannot provide on our own because regulations do not allow. But a fintech is in a better position to do that, which calls for this intensified collaboration with them to leverage our system to provide these quicker products in a win-win situation,” he said.
He made these remarks while speaking as a panellist at the Money Summit (TMS) 2023 organised by the Business and Financial Times (B&FT) in Accra.
By working together, he said, the two strengthen infrastructure and improve their product offerings – such as payment solutions, digital banking and block-chain, among others, in addition to developing products that align with their needs.
Key areas of collaboration
One area where banks and fintechs can collaborate, he explained, is in developing solutions for financial inclusion. He said many people in underserved areas lack access to basic financial services like banking and payment systems, hence fintechs working with banks can provide innovative solutions like mobile banking and digital payment services that can bring people into the financially-included bracket.
Another area of collaboration is in data analytics. Fintechs are known for their expertise in big data and analytics, while banks have access to large amounts of customer data. By working together, they can leverage this data to provide better products and services to customers.
The banking expert mentioned that going digital means entering another ecosystem that comes with its own risk just like it has advantages. The digital space, he noted, is subject to cyber fraud, data leaks, account impersonations, and social engineering or phishing attacks to make away with customers’ savings and investments.
Again, operational and credit risk whereby people will not pay for their loans – leading to high non-performing loans (NPL) for banks – can be transferred to fintechs.
However, he is of the view that collaboration – particularly data sharing between fintechs and banks and a robust regulatory system that is reflective of the transformations in real-time – can curb such risks.
Mr. Quaye concluded that, ultimately, by combining the financial prowess of banks with the technological agility of fintechs, they can deliver better financial solutions; thus improving the financial ecosystem for years to come.
Role of the regulator
The regulator must make it possible for banks to also access data from fintechs and telcos, because the new era of banking and finance will be data-driven. “Regulatory policy can make or unmake the banking sector based on the policies. If policies are not friendly to banks, and even fintechs, then the sector will not thrive. For me, the regulator determines goals and puts in the policy; which may be friendly or not. And so, our regulator must be forward-looking and help the sector to grow.”