The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) may have unwittingly taken sides in the Bank vs Fintech debate by labelling Fintech as a threat to banks.
Governor of the apex bank Godwin Emefiele made this known during the investiture of Uche Olowu as the 20th President of the Chartered Institute of Banker of Nigeria (CIBN) recently.
Represented by the deputy governor on Economic Policy, Joseph Nnanna, Emefiele advised banks to step up their service delivery.
“Banking has a common threat. The enterprise risk posed by FinTech is real and there is need to be at the forefront of sensitising the banking sector about the real threats posed by FinTech.”
Financial technology (commonly known as fintech) can be defined as the intersection between financial services and technology. Fintech firms are distinct from the conventional banking institutions in the country, though several of them own fintech operations.
Fintech firms in Nigeria have witnessed huge success recently. Piggybank, a popular fintech firm had grown savings in its kitty by 3000% to N1 billion in 2017. The firm has also acquired a major stake in VFD microfinance bank.
Patronage of these fintech firms has been on the upside because of the less cumbersome requirements for opening an account and higher interest rates compared to regular financial institutions.
Fintech firms are able to offer this because of lower operating costs, driven by an emphasis on technology. Banks have a higher cost outlay due to the costs of running brick and mortar operations.
While many on both sides, regard banks and fintechs as competitors, in reality both are complimentary in Nigeria. Fintechs do not hold depositors funds but merely serve as an intermediary.
Increased patronage of fintech firms, thus increases the volume of money available to banks for onward lending.