By Nnamdi Odumody
The 2019 Africa Fintech Foundry Disrupt themed ‘’Digital GoldRush’’, powered by Access Bank, was a showcase of technology trends which are transforming the financial services sector and other industries.
The Executive Director, IT & Operations at Access Bank, Ade Bajomo, gave a history of the previous goldrush, which transformed global economies, as explorers sought fortune in them, and the current digital gold rush – Fourth Industrial Revolution – which we are witnessing. Dr Herbert Wigwe, Access Bank Group CEO, gave a brief history about the banking experience in Nigeria before the digital revolution, and why his bank decided to play a leading role in offering a seamless technology- enabled personalized experience to its customers.
Banking Disruptor and founder of Moven, Brett King, was the keynote speaker. He gave an expose of the evolution of global banking which started in Italy to the current disruptors led by Chinese fintechs like Ant Financial and WeBank.
A panel on securing Seed and Growth Funding for Startups was next, followed by The Future of Gaming and Artificial Intelligence powered by Microsoft which had its EVP Gaming, Phil Spencer, and its Technical Lead on AI and Mixed Reality, Alex Kipman, explaining Microsoft’s foray into AI and Mixed Reality as well as the reason behind the recent $100 million African Development Centres in Lagos and Nairobi.
Microsoft seems to be putting deep focus on Nigeria. It reported weeks ago that it was opening an AI research unit in Lagos. Now, it is going to also build development centers in Africa with Lagos as one of the centers. The company plans to spend $100 million in the next five years to build the development centers in partnerships with local partners and governments. Microsoft also plans to hire in Lagos and Nairobi, another development center, about 100 full-time developers by the end of 2019, and expand the number to 500 by Q4 of 2023.
Brett King and Roosevelt Ogbonna, the Deputy Group CEO of Access Bank, had a discussion centered on Disruptive Banking which focused on commerciality around banking and API’s.
The role of regulation for financial technology featured Reginald Karawusa, Executive Commissioner Legal and Enforcement, Securities and Exchange Commission of Nigeria; Sam Okojere, Director of Payments and Settlements, CBN Nigeria; Reginald Udom, Partner at Aluko and Oyebode Legal Partners; and was moderated by Dr Segun Aina, President Fintech Association of Nigeria.
A demo session which showcased Robotics in Banking was showcased by Carl Wocke, the CEO Of Merlynn AI, South Africa. There was a remote session on Deep Learning for Digital Identity by Yann Le Cun, former Chief Data Scientist at Facebook and Cofounder Element AI. He spoke on how his technology is helping financial institutions in recognizing customers who conduct financial transactions.
Other components included Masterclasses on Blockchain by Chimezie Chuta; Digital Payments and Cybersecurity by Susanne Chisti, CEO and Founder Fintech Circle UK; Analytics In Action by Dr Bayo Adekambi Chief Transformation Officer MTN Nigeria; Using Agile to drive Digital Transformation by Abiodun Osoba Founder and CEO Agile Advisor. Finally, there was Beyond The Digital Frontier: The Journey From Uncertainty to Digital Transformation by Deloitte Nigeria.
The Future of Cash in a digital world by Claudio Ceresani, Global Marketing and Sales GM, GioriDigital and Zelda Akindele, Partner at Templars LP, which was moderated by Uzoma Dozie, the former CEO Diamond Bank looked at how Nigeria can evolve fully to cashless transactions like China and other markets where cash is being eroded in day to day activities.
There were demo presentations by startups which showcased solutions in healthcare by Trep Labs, blockchain for the real estate value chain by Seso, peer to peer currency exchange platform for African banks to enable their customers send money out cheaper and faster by Kaoshi, provision of banking services to the unbanked through financial cooperatives by Smart Teller and an affordable, portable and active cold chain device for the storage of vaccines, blood and other perishable products by Gricd. Gricd was the winner of the pitch prize of $10,000 with Kaoshi and Smart Teller clinching the first and second runner up positions respectively.
TAP (Touch and Pay Technologies), a Lagos-based fintech company, also showcased its technology in the event. TAP makes it possible for financial institutions to serve informal sectors and deepen financial inclusion by integrating electronic and cash payments at scale. Simply, TAP builds unique mobile payment and services platform capturing offline and online transaction in a seamless way.
With the AFF DISRUPT, Access Bank is positioning itself to play a leading role as an innovation-driven intelligent bank for the future.