[Column] Jim Ovia: Fintech and the future of the Nigerian Banking Industry
With the saturation of the mobile phone market in Nigeria and the advent of Financial Technology startups (FINTECH) in the financial services industry, the Nigerian polity has witnessed higher financial inclusion amongst the underbanked and unbanked. In a recent interview with BBC, the Founder/Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Jim Ovia expressed the role of FINTECH in local banking in Nigeria.
Mr. Ovia stated that with an operational FINTECH system in place, there would be more inclusiveness of all and sundry in the economy; transactions and payments will be done efficiently and transparently; one may not necessarily need a banking license to establish how payment systems are done – a rare opportunity to digitize the economy. He explained that contrary to popular assumptions, FINTECH is not a threat to the banking institutions but rather a strategic partnership to better serve the needs of customers.
In the face of a myriad of infrastructural deficits that flaws the impetus of FINTECH in the Nigerian context, Mr. Ovia singled out broadband provision as the major area yet to be fully explored and developed. To which, he called on the regulators to create and allocate more spectrum. He voiced his optimism at Nigeria’s achievement with the mobile market penetration at over 90% and added that broadband connectivity is next.
The economic potentials for FINTECH in Nigeria is vast. The Financial Inclusion Summit 2016 report revealed that the use of digital finance could boost annual GDP by $3.7 trillion by 2025 in emerging economies like Nigeria. According to the report, this avenue presents the opportunity to add 10% to 12% to the country’s GDP.