Navigating the Next Normal – Sustainable Impacts in Fintech, E-Government and Emerging Technologies

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Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for being here with us today – both onsite and online – at the 6th edition of the Nigeria Fintech Week (NFW), the first to be held physically since the Covid-19 pandemic. I hope we are all charged up this morning, excited to learn, share ideas and visions, and develop strategies for the progression of both the Nigerian and global FinTech ecosystem.

It is with great pleasure that FinTech Association of Nigeria (Board of Trustees, Governing Council, Members and Staff) and its many partners bring you this event. The NFW is an opportunity to showcase new thinking, solutions, thought leadership and products by the local Fintech ecosystem.

The theme and overarching focus for this year’s meeting is “Navigating the Next Normal – Sustainable Impacts in Fintech, E-Government and Emerging Technologies”. In the current clime, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) discussions are at the top of every executive agenda. So are issues around extreme poverty alleviation, economic growth and digital inclusion. When FintechNGR pursue goals like connect, accelerate and advocate, we do so working with our ecosystem to also place these very important discussions at the center of the next wave of solutioning and innovation.

A recent report published by the International Data Corporation (IDC) shows that the global spend on digital transformation, the engine behind Digital Economy, will top $6.8 trillion in the next year, and this figure will increase by 15.5% every year. At the same time, it is expected that 65% of the world’s GDP will be digitalised within the next two years, and this is further propelled following disruptions by the COVID pandemic. You will agree with me that digital transformation without sustainability and consideration of its impact on the wider ecosystem is irrelevant to the dynamics of the 21st century.

The Nigerian FinTech industry has been a trailblazer in this digitally transforming world. Coming from infancy barely 6 years ago, it now leads Africa on several fronts – ranging from funding, scope and depth of innovation to providing leadership in payments and driving regulatory alignment to create an environment for growth, jobs and prosperity.

The Fintech Ecosystem has also witnessed significant growth in the last five years from foreign direct Investments from barely $53m in 2017 to $1.3b in 2021 (27% of total FDI of $4.8b). Our job as an ecosystem facilitator is to proceed at any length to ensure we achieve the full potential for continuous and exponential growth.

Despite significant strides in payments, lending and WealthTech, we are still largely scathing the surface when it comes to deep technology revolution. There is still room for new innovations in these sectors and huge opportunities in AgriTech, InsurTech, EdTech, HealthTech, PropTech and Blockchain adoption. We also need to start deepening the entire ecosystem at a much more fundamental level – building skills and solutions, based on deep research, science and technology to develop and manufacture chips, hardware, operating systems and indeed 4th industrial revolution capabilities such as machine learning, IoT and AI. We need Nigeria and Africa to be major contributors to the global technology force, not just consumers or fringe participants,  but solving its own problems and enriching the wider global ecosystems.

Our industry has developed, as with Nollywood and Afrobeats, largely with minimal government support and intervention. This is a critical juncture for our governments and regulators to further raise the bar and support FinTechNGR in taking this industry to unprecedented heights through well-thought-out collaboration initiatives, policies, and interventions. We must be the digital light and trailblazer to Africa and the world. We need to move with a renewed commitment and deeper partnership in this respect if we are to address the recent dwindling economic realities and urgency to lift millions out of extreme poverty.

With over 40 million people yet to be financially inclusive, the opportunities are enormous. The IFC estimates that there are only 87,000 developers in Nigeria. Over 1 million engineers are required to power the next level of digital transformation, innovation and economic growth. Funding for research centres and capabilities must become top of mind for our government and corporations.

 

At FinTechNGR, I am extremely excited of our critical role in orchestrating the ecosystem and the numerous deliveries we have achieved including:

  • The introduction of the DigiQuip series with over 400 students from 40 institutions across the country trained to address the huge talent gap issue. Our DigiCorps program is equipping NYSC participants for the future of work, while DigiSkills which is targeted at Institutions, Associations and Individuals who want to upskill, and will commence this year.
  • Our Reguvator Forum, the first and only one in Africa to date (where regulators and innovators meet in an open environment to address and solution forward looking and innovator friendly regulation with appropriate consumer protection baselines) continues to deepen and a partnership has been extended to the World Economic Forum. I thank the various regulatory bodies for making this happen.
  • We have advocated and participated in shaping the outcome of several issues that are critical to the development of our nascent industry including the Nigeria Startup Bill and Digital Lending to name a few. We aim to continue to strengthen our advocacy role with a positive and collaborative stance.
  • Collaborating with other institutions, such as the Chartered Institute of Bankers to develop and deliver a curriculum that will deepen the skills of our FinTechs in critical aspects such as Risk Management, Cyber Security and broader financial services.
  • Deepen relationships with our ecosystem, regulators and participants, including the Central Bank of Nigeria, Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit, NITDA, NCC, NIACOM, FCCPC and EnterpriseNGR, to name but a few

Let me seize this opportunity to particularly commend the Central Bank of Nigeria on the 1st anniversary of the eNaira launch and also the Securities and Exchange Commission for putting forward market leading regulation on Digital Assets.  We thank our members and wider stakeholder community for their immense contributions in making these happen and trust you will continue to support in future years.

The track record of successful collaboration with the Singapore Fintech Festival has opened speaking engagements for FintechNGR at this year’s Singapore Fintech Festival holding from November 2 to 4, 2022. We hope you can join us there online or in person.  FintechNGR will continue to strive for more international partnerships and collaboration in coming years to expose our ecosystem to new frontiers and opportunities, and to position Nigeria as the go-to destination for FinTech innovation and investments.

In closing, we must not be naïve to the various detractors, who pose as FinTechs but operate shady organisations that cannot be part of our ecosystem. We must also recognise that we cannot avoid contrarian views and scrutiny about our industry and operators, which clearly is altering the status quo in innovation and competitive trends and creating opportunities for a new generation of entrepreneurs in Nigeria and across the world. The data points clearly show this and must be quite disturbing to incumbents that are unwilling to change.  In fact, we must welcome these views, and our members must reflect on further steps to take to further strengthen and sustain our nascent industry and their businesses. FinTechNGR will continue to facilitate and collaborate with regulators to create a safe and secure financial services environment for the growth of the industry and our great nation. We have a unique opportunity to position Nigeria at the heart of Africa’s digital transformation growth and FinTechNGR and its 300+ members will drive this irreversible trajectory and deepen its advocacy role with all stakeholders who continue to gain local and global recognition for the work they have been undertaking. This is just the beginning.

As in previous years, we expect that deliberations for this year will go many steps further to generate pragmatic ideas, forecasts and strategies that would advance new developments and further spur the growth of the ecosystem.

I am extremely excited to be part of this revolution – where Africans are resolving African problems, leveraging global technology, partnerships and collaboration but it is more than that. As an ecosystem, we are building the next wave of founders, innovators, creators, and national award winners (which we had 7 in 2022), who will drive Africa robustly into the 5th industrial revolution. I am counting on everyone to re-engage in this respect and be part of this formidable and laudable movement. Thank you.

 

Ade Bajomo

President, FinTechNGR

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