Winning with Technology

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As the winner of the Best Flow House in Africa in the 2015 Euromoney Awards for Excellence, Access Bank’s use of technology no doubt continues to set it apart from its counterparts.  Solomon Elusoji writes

“The 21st century will bring about an all-embracing convergence of computing, communications, information and knowledge,” business and management enthusiast, Hassan Ghaziri, wrote in a thesis on information technology in the banking sector in 1998. “This will radically change the way we live, work, and think. The growth of high speed networks, coupled with the falling cost of computing power, is making possible applications undreamed of in the past. Voice, data, images, and video may now be transferred around the world in micro-seconds.”

He continued: “This explosion of technology is changing the banking industry from paper and branch banks to’ digitised and networked banking services. It has already changed the internal accounting and management systems of banks. It is now fundamentally changing the delivery systems banks use to interact with their customers.

“All over the world, banks are still struggling to find a technological solution to meet the challenges of a rapidly-changing environment. It is clear that this new technology is changing the banking industry forever. Banks with the ability to invest and integrate information technology will become dominate in the highly competitive global market. Bankers are convinced that investing in IT is critical. Its potential and consequences on the banking industry future is enormous.”

Just some years later, and Ghaziri’s prediction is spot on. The financial institutions in the world have succeeded due to their ability to leverage on the power of information technology and employ it to survive in an ever dynamic business environment.

In Nigeria, one of the banks that have successfully managed this transition is Access Bank, who continues to garner accolades home and abroad for its work in IT, and ensuring the customer is well served.

One of the bank’s IT initiatives, PRIMUS, delivers access to its comprehensive suite of banking solutions which offers confirmation of transaction instructions on the go, integrated solution suite that meets all banking needs of its corporate customers and access controls combined with online security technology.

Recently, the bank emerged as the winner of the Best Flow House in Africa accolade in the Euromoney Awards for Excellence 2015, which held at the Natural History Museum in London.

It is the first time an African Bank will be recognised as winner of this highly sought award.  But Access Bank’s win comes in recognition of the bank’s increasing transaction flows across Africa, particularly its dominance in the Nigerian financial markets  and  more importantly, due to how it has shown leadership in developing and integrating technology into its sales and trading businesses, as well as the importance of research.

According to Euromoney, the Best Flow House award is given to honour firms that have demonstrated an ability to excel across the region in the key areas of foreign exchange, equities, rates and credit. The winning firm must also have shown commitment to providing liquidity and pricing in all market conditions.

Speaking at the presentation ceremony, the Group Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, Mr Herbert Wigwe said: “We are delighted to be presented with this highly coveted award. This is recognition of our regional expertise and our continuing ability to provide customised currency and fixed income solutions to our customers across Africa. This award is an attestation of the bank’s determination to be the world’s most respected African bank by 2018.”

Wigwe assured that his bank will sustain this growth momentum while noting that the award is an honour not only for Access Bank, but for Nigeria. “This is just the beginning of more things to come for our bank,” he concluded.

The Euromoney Awards for Excellence now in its 25th consecutive year continues to be the most respected awards in the financial services industry. The award which is based on independently verifiable data recognises those institutions that have brought the highest levels of service, innovation and expertise to their customers.

“Technology is critical,” Wigwe has noted, “and we have an interesting perspective on the future of banking—we are pushing a digital strategy and an omni-channel strategy, which will allow customers to use different touch points, mobile phones, and the internet.

“The world is moving from an analog mindset to a digital one, which actually represents the future. Without a strong, robust technology base, you will not be able to achieve this. When we were a wholesale commercial bank, technology was critical to ensuring that we had a cash management system so that people running large corporations could make multiple, large payments from the comfort of their offices. That solution was provided through Access Primus. Today, we have applied this approach to the retail end and provided a versatile technology platform where people can make transactions speedily from the comfort of their homes.”

The bank has also been involved in using technology to empower women. The pioneer set of women selected by Access Bank for training on Empowering Women with Technology (EWT) recently completed a session in the series that has been scheduled to cover the major centres across Nigeria. The program, which in being undertaken in partnership with Wild Fusion Digital Centre (WDC) came under the bank’s special product created for women called ‘W Community’.

The training was a follow up to a session on empowering women in technology held at the bank’s head office on Victoria Island recently. The session had in attendance former Minister of Communication Technology, Omobola Johnson, who was guest speaker and former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, who spoke about her personal encounter with technology.

And the numbers show that the bank is growing. For the first quarter of 2015, Gross Earnings was 76.7 billion, up 34 per cent of which interest income and non-interest income comprised 17 per cent and 47 per cent growth respectively.