Insider Technologies
Insider Technologies

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Nairobi’s Intercontinental Hotel was the place to be on the 15th and 16th September as the Kenyan capital hosted the Future Bank East Africa Cards and Payments conference under the theme of “The Future of Banking: Innovation, Disruption, Collaboration”. With speakers from many of East Africa’s leading banking organisations and with others bringing their perspectives on the crucial issues facing banking from the wider continent and beyond, here is a summary of just a few of the points made by the many compelling speakers at the event.

Key themes


The conference provided some very interesting insights with recurring themes being:

• Youth as a driver of banking innovation and expansion of product penetration in East Africa
• High penetration of smartphone and social media use in Kenya and the region keeping the emphasis on digital banking
• Cross-border remittances and trade steering the direction of mobile payment services
• How to create the next generation of banking products and services that build on the region’s head start in pioneering mobile payments

Africa: an innovation leader in the banking industry


In terms of innovation, Africa is widely acknowledged as a leader in the banking industry, in areas such as mobile money and mobile financial services, as well as others. The advent of M-Pesa, launched in 2007, is still extensively cited as a prime example of business innovation and indeed catapulted mobile money into the banking landscape, however as speakers at the event such as Bernadette Ngara of National Bank indicated, the range of mobile operators offering mobile payments and a wide range of other mobile financial services has proliferated since that initial breakthrough that saw Kenya show the way. As the pioneer, M-Pesa might be one of the most well-established in the mobile money market, however the marketplace is now a lively and competitive one.

Cross-border remittances come to the fore


Speaking on the cross-border potential for mobile payments, Norman Munyampundu of MTN Rwanda highlighted the increasingly international nature of mobile payments in the East African Banking space, with MTN Rwanda and M-Pesa linking up in partnership to facilitate cross-border remittances between two of Africa’s most innovative nations, Rwanda and Kenya.

Kenya: An African leader in debit card use


Focussing on the card element of this Cards and Payments conference, KCB’s Johnson Ondicho spoke on the increasing penetration of the debit card in the Kenyan banking scene and we learnt that Kenya is also a leader amongst African nations in debit card average transaction value, card penetration and frequency of use. Interestingly the drive towards heavier debit card use is being led by the 18-24 age group, thanks to whom debit card usage has seen compound growth between 2009 and 2015 of 26.32%.

The power of youth


The power of youth in driving the course for banking in East Africa was a theme seen also in Zahid Mustafa’s (Barclays) presentation on innovation and evolution of mobile and tablet banking where the largest age demographic in smartphone use is the 25-34 group. The importance of mobile as the means of access to online banking for Kenyans in particular was also brought to the fore by Jeff Ngeta of Chase Bank, highlighting that in the country 83% of internet access is through the mobile (compared to 51% globally and 79% in Africa).

The end goal is convenience


The convergence of banking, payments and customer experience to create loyalty in the customer base through convenience was the central theme of Angela Mwirigi’s (KCB) very engaging presentation where she explored themes of the merging of telcos and banks and integration of diverse banking channels all with the aim of creating a seamless banking environment catering for the bank’s customers offering them products and services through the channel that suits them, or to put it in Angela’s words “the end goal is convenience – that’s winning! The ‘how’ is convergence”.

These and many other excellent speakers together with round table discussions and a speed-networking event made the event a very interesting two days, with plenty of food for thought for anyone involved in the East African banking scene, combined with plenty of opportunities to compare notes with others.

We can free up organisations in the retail banking space to carry out bold innovations


Insider Technologies believes the future for retail banking in Africa is one of further innovation that will continue to see African organisations whether banks, mobile operators; or indeed as the direction of travel would suggest, a marriage of the two; punch above their weight in pioneering new technologies and ground-breaking products in the global banking industry. At Insider Technologies, with 26 years working alongside some of the world’s leading banks in a range of areas through our monitoring and alerting software we are keen to play a role in supporting organisations in Africa that are pushing forward retail banking innovation. Through our ability to monitor and streamline transaction processing, reduce fraud risk and secure organisations from the potential for reputational risk we can free up organisations in the retail banking space to carry out the bold innovations that they need to in order to be at the forefront of financial services in Africa. We ourselves are also pioneering innovative uses of big data that leverage monitoring to “take a view from several angles” reducing risk, minimising operational disruption and making banking easier for customers.*

We look forward to building relationships with the many new contacts we made at Future Bank East Africa 2015 and hope to see you again at next year’s event.