As Sibos 2020 kicks off, we look back to some of the predictions and forecasts made in 2010 and pick through what lessons can be learnt from the post-financial crisis world to inform strategy in the not dissimilar economic environment of today.
Ade Ayeyemi, group CEO of Ecobank, believes that comparisons are quite difficult as the post-Covid economic downturn has not been caused by any fundamental weaknesses in the way banks operate or generate revenue, unlike in 2008.
Therefore, despite the evident challenges, the financial position of banks is fundamentally sound, which enhances their position to react.
“The capital of the financial industry is built much better than it was 10 years ago, and therefore our ability to respond is much different,” Ayeyemi tells Finextra Research.
In this series of articles, Finextra looks at Capgemini’s 2010 World Payment Report to appraise their accuracy or lack thereof, with insights from expert voices in the payments space.
Prediction - “Partnerships can support revenue focused strategies, filling the technological gap— and consequently addressing the more onerous customer demands. Insourcing/outsourcing can reduce running and compliance costs, improving efficiency and obtaining scale on specific segments, geographies or services.”
“We have seen that it is important for banks to look to the fintech industry, the mobile network operators and other industries, such as fast-moving consumer goods, and determine what goals we have in common,” Ayeyemi says.
To address societal matters relating to financial inclusion and so on, he believes it is important for different institutions to understand where they are in competition and where they are in collaboration.
Financial inclusion, for example, should not be a battleground between different businesses and industries, as it is can achieve a common societal good.
“We need to figure out how to define the boundaries of what we do internally and what we do collectively and collaboratively with other industries,” he sums up.
Prediction - “Banks need to decide to what extent payments are core for their business, since the reality might prompt banks to think far more radically, and perhaps more quickly, than expected, about their payments strategies.”
“Over the last 10 years, we’ve seen payments remain core to what banks do,” Ayeyemi says. “Payments are messages plus liquidity - you send a message to somebody pulling liquidity behind it.”
He argues that the significance of providing liquidity has increased as consumers are now less likely to deposit physical money in their bank accounts - money is instead merely a means for transacting electronically.
This means that banks have recognised payments as a vital avenue for placing themselves at the centre of their customers’ personal ecosystems and so have invested accordingly.
“One of the fundamental purposes of money is to facilitate transactions. Therefore, banks have to ensure that money sits in the confluence between the payer and receiver.”
Prediction - “The ‘Wait and See’ approach is passive and could result in the bank progressively losing clients and market share over time. Such an approach could ultimately prove more expensive than making a decision to invest and take proactive governance of this area of business.”
Ayeyemi believes that 2020 has demonstrated the importance of businesses being proactive to the possiblities of customer demands changing rapidly.
He uses the example of a hypothetical retailer being “a star of the high street in London” but without the digital experience to go with it.
“If you weren’t prepared for what has happened this year, you wouldn’t have made any revenue after February!” he says.
This could be applied to a financial institution taking a ‘wait and see’ approach regarding digital transformation and finding itself ill prepared to serve its customers when banking relationships become more mobile or online centric.
“We’ve seen it is important to be part of the drivers of change, understand where the future is going and invest quickly to be part of that future,” Ayeyemi says.
Ade Ayeyemi is speaking at Sibos 2020 on October 5th. For more info, click here.