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Banking has no future without digitalisation, says Sogunle

By Chijioke Nelson
30 January 2017   |   4:00 am
Any serious business with a future market in sight will have to take digitalisation quite seriously. Today’s customers demand faster services without compromising quality.
Chief Executive Officer of Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Dr. Demola Sogunle

Chief Executive Officer of Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Dr. Demola Sogunle

The newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Dr. Demola Sogunle, is passionate about seamless financial services, especially in today’s fast-paced technology age. In this interview with CHIJIOKE NELSON, he speaks on digital banking revolution and his bank’s growth strategy using innovative digital solution. Excerpts.

Economic challenges have negatively impacted the banking industry profitability and raising bad debts’ portfolio. Has technology helped under this circumstance?
Any serious business with a future market in sight will have to take digitalisation quite seriously. Today’s customers demand faster services without compromising quality. With technology, the turnaround time for quality service delivery is constantly getting reduced and able to bring down costs, which is very important if we must boost profitability.

At Stanbic IBTC, we have long embraced digitalisation to strengthen our operations and processes, make them more accessible, efficient and cost effective. So, one of our coping mechanism is to fully embrace technology, which has helped us provide unmatched innovative solutions, like this digital branch, the Stanbic IBTC mobile app, our internet banking, among others. We also ensure we have a highly experienced and motivated workforce. If you check our nine months financial result to September 2016, we did well, in spite of the economic challenges.

In any case, there are and always, will be challenges, but those challenges present opportunities as well. The important thing is that as a bank, it is always ready and prepared to weather the storm and come out in a stronger position. We are here to deliver services to our customers for the long haul and we are ready to go through all these challenges to fulfill our obligations and responsibilities to all stakeholders- customers, shareholders, staff members and the communities within which we operate.

What is your newly launched digital branch all about?
This is our very first fully digital branch and for us at Stanbic IBTC, it is the beginning of a new phase with regards to customer interface, the reach of our channels and access to products and services.

What prompted the bank to embark on this initiative?
We believe that digitalisation is here to stay and the future of banking. With over 80 million Nigerians on the Internet, we also believe that we should be able to take value to them online, while providing same to other Nigerians at our traditional channels. Our overarching objective is to empower the customer further by providing him self-service options in the comfort of a branch. This means he is able to do all of his transactions with little human interaction.

How does this digital branch differ from any other e-branch?
It is a fully digital branch. It is an entirely paperless, self-service environment, which speaks completely to the aspirations of the customer with a millennial mindset. So, whatever you want to do, you can come into the branch, go to any of the points and you are able to pay, collect cash or make enquiries. Everything is available for you; there is very little interface with human beings. When it comes to access to internet products and services, people with millennial mindsets are very conversant with everything that has to do with self-service and internet access. We believe that we are helping the customer improve productivity through these digital branches.

You recently upgraded your mobile app. What is the target?
There are still over 90 million unbanked in the country and we know we have more Nigerians with SIM cards and mobile phones, which makes it easier and cheaper to reach them. What we are trying to do with mobile and internet banking is to make banking faster, more convenient and a lot easier for our clients in such a way that their banking experience is seamless. Our newly upgraded mobile app represents yet another avenue through which the unbanked can be reached. Using technology provides us with the opportunity to develop competitive products and services that will help bring the unbanked into the banking system. It is not cost effective to try to open branches in every part of the country. But the moment we deploy technology via internet and mobile banking, it becomes easier for customers, even those in places where we do not have a physical presence, to access financial products and services. It is very easy for us to do and we would continue to push the technology envelope to reach the unbanked population.

What safety nets are assured?
It is a product co-created with our customers and other stakeholders. This way, we have ensured that the app fits the precise need of our customers, and we will keep updating the app. A lot of thought went into making of this app, which is well encrypted and safe to use. We have no doubt it is a fantastic product that we have put out there. You can do both banking and investment transactions on it.

Going forward, what should we expect from Stanbic IBTC?
Mobile and indeed e-banking is the future of banking. Stanbic IBTC is keen to be at the cutting edge of customer service and technology is a major way to achieve this. We would therefore, continue to innovate and improve our services and ensure this is made available to our customers wherever they are.