Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Demola Sogunle, CEO of Stanbic IBTC Bank
Stanbic IBTC’s future landscape of the country’s economy influenced by the exponential growth of digitalization.
The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted deep reliance on technology and sparked an advent of digital innovation in the financial services sector. With customers having limited access to banking halls and staff working remotely, the application of digital technologies has helped banks to become more efficient, offering banking services digitally via the customers preferred channels.
While Banks have quickly adapted to the new realities, leveraging the opportunity in terms of more effective processes, new products as well as enhancing the competitiveness of the industry, it has also favored the entry of new Fintech and Telco firms alike in offering banking-related services. This has inadvertently introduced new threats to the already competitive landscape, especially in the areas of digital lending, payments and customer onboarding. With the newcomers adopting advanced technologies, less bureaucratic decision-making processes to challenge banks, many banks still struggle with instability arising from the maturity level of their digital support system and regulatory limitations.
In parallel, we have also seen other digital assets that do not sit on the balance sheet of banks, these assets can take many forms: from electronic wallets to balances with telecom providers. The competitive advantage is not with the asset itself, but the payment technology associated with it. The convenience of payments and the connection to other parts of our growing digital life has been the key to success.
Stanbic IBTC’s current projects and contribution to local content through SME empowerment.
Help me Grow (Access to funding)- SMEs do not have access to collateral and are mostly unable to provide financials, Stanbic IBTC has delivered an SME EZ cash solution that allows our clients access loans without collateral or any documentation, this has gone a long way in supporting our clients’ business growth and the plan is to further scale this solution.
Training and Capacity Development- We partnered with the Enterprise Development Centre of the Lagos Business School (LBS) to train and develop 3,000 entrepreneurs in 2020, these trainings covers topics such as Business planning, Business development, Cashflow planning & optimization, Human resource management, Product Build , Cost optimization, Marketing, Tax advisory etc and 600 of these clients were selected for one-on-one mentorship sessions to further support them based on identified business needs. We plan to train and develop at least 5,000 entrepreneurs this year.
Trade support and Advisory- About 60% of Nigeria’s non-oil imports is from China and we have launched a proposition that helps deliver a seamless trade experience to our clients importing from China. Our Africa China Agent Proposition(ACAP) was launched through our partnership with our parent Banks (The Standard Bank Group of South Africa and The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China) and provides access to Credible and Verified suppliers, Quality guarantee on item(s) of import, Competitive pricing, Financing options, Split/Part payment options, Logistics support, Mandarin translation services etc. and this has helped our clients grow their businesses and remain above competition in their different focus sectors.
Access to Intervention funds- we also support our clients in facilitating access to CBN and other intervention funds such as Creative Industry-CIFI funds, Healthcare funds, CACS, RSSF/DCRR , NIRSAL funds/Guarantees, Development Bank of Nigeria etc to give them access to loans at cheaper rates.
Fintech Support- We are working with Founders Institute which is based in Silicon Valley and is one of the largest pre-seed accelerators worldwide to grow the Fintech space. Their aim is to support ideas that seek to solve problems in our society and we have partnered with their Nigerian office on this laudable initiative, we have currently sponsored and graduated 3 Cohorts consisting of 63 founders who have delivered different solutions to help us live better. We will continue to support this excellent initiative to ensure the growth and development of Fintechs in Nigeria.
Understanding of the banking sector Post Covid-19 strategies and the opportunities of diversification into different solutions.
Post Covid-19 (if there will be anything like ‘post Covid’), we forecast that banking will move to a system with dominant platforms that control access to a fragmented customer base and some platform-transformed incumbents monopolizing the interface with customers. When this happens, customer data ownership, portability for individuals, and data interoperability between platforms will be key to keeping the sector sufficiently competitive. The financial sector will become more efficient, with greater financial inclusion and stability, as long as efficiency advantages such as superior information (data), secure platforms, borderless and contactless payments platforms, digital lending and repayment capabilities, seamless onboarding and leaner operations are the drivers of the digitization.
This will particularly be the case if, as a response to FintechTech/Telco’s entry, incumbent banks restructure and adopt more advanced technologies, regulation/regulators become adaptive to newer trends (Platforms, Cloud, Artificial Intelligence, Data, Adaptive Governance, Blockchains, Advanced Cyber-Security technologies). A key point to note is that the Nigerian economy is reasonably diversified from a GDP perspective, as the oil and gas sector accounts for less than 10% of GDP, while the non-oil sectors of the economy accounts for about 90%. The challenge remains the ability to diversify government and foreign exchange (FX) revenues away from the oil and gas sector.
We believe that supporting infrastructure development in the country will be critical to driving increased diversification of the Nigerian economy. Improving infrastructure should support the manufacturing base of the country and reduce import dependency. A good example that shows the banking sector support is the Dangote refinery, which is currently under construction, and was partly funded by Nigerian banks. Nigeria will be a net exporter of refined crude unlike our current position where we import refined crude, once the refinery is operational. Refined crude currently accounts for about 30% of annual FX needs of the country, and so one can imagine how much FX is freed up once that is operational. The freed-up FX will be available to fund other infrastructure developments. Additionally, the banking sector continues to finance the backward integration aspirations of companies operating in the economy, across sectors such as agro allied, cement, food producers, brewers and manufacturing sector.
Stanbic’s key objectives and priorities for 2021.
Given the very challenging business climate, one of our key objectives is to stay resilient and forge ahead in creating new opportunities for our various stakeholders. At Stanbic IBTC we are looking to go beyond the traditional ways of doing business, such that we will remain a sustainable business for the foreseeable future.
Technology continues to change almost every facet of our daily lives, and it shapes clients’ expectations of us too. We will continue to drive technological advancements to deepen the experience of our existing clients and widen our horizon in our drive for financial inclusion of the unbanked.
We are confident that our strategies will lead to deeper understanding of our clients’ expectations and providing them with a wide array of technology-driven products and services. Our objectives are to play a much bigger role in the lives of our customers, putting them at the center of our structure.