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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Bank consolidation, ICT spur electronic payment in Nigeria

Remmy Nweke

Chairman of West Africa Bankers Association (WABA) and Managing Director of UBA Group Mr. Tony Elumelu, has said that on-going bank consolidation and acceptance of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools, such as mobile phones have greatly boosted the penetration of electronic payment (e-payment) solutions in the West Africa region with particular reference to Nigeria.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the sixth edition of the Card Expo Conference and Exhibition in Lagos, Wednesday, he noted that acceptance of alternative delivery channels banking activities, such as Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), payment cards and Point of Sale (PoS) for retail banking in the country has been attributed immensely to evolution in the nation’s banking industry.

He also linked the growth in the adoption of e-payment system to increasing customers’ sophistication.

Represented at the event by an Executive Director, UBA, Mr. Chika Mordi, he said the banking consolidation directed by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has made local banks bigger with higher capacity to provide elaborate retail banking.

“There is a strong need to increase retail access to customers. And this can only be done through the electronics channels. The adoption of card payment, ATMs, PoS, mobile phones for banking services is changing the retail banking delivery landscape in the country,” he asserted.

As said by him, utilities-based organizations, government agencies are also adopting electronic payment delivery channels, therefore moving away from cash simple lodgement to electronic channels.

Mr. Elumelu equally commended Intermarc Consulting Limited, the organizer of the Card Expo for having the foresight to commence the propagation of e-payment evangelism even when it was not in vogue.

A good will message from the Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Turner Isoun, eulogised the Card Expo, saying it has been helpful to the nation’s plan towards empowering private sector led regional powerhouse.

“This expo and exhibition conference which is attracting significant interest from major global smartcard producing companies will showcase how ICT can really help meet this objective,” he said.

Prof. Isoun further said telecommunications satellite that his ministry proposes for launch next year would boost the country’s communications with the rest of the world and jump-start the full utilization of smartcard in all sector of the economy.

“All these are been done to provide the much-needed desired infrastructural backbone to provide the foundation for the much desired revolution in our payment system with the utilization of smartcard and eliminate the risk involved in carrying and movement of cash,” he said.

Additionally, he appealed to the financial institutions and telecommunications service providers in the country to avail themselves of the opportunity to source the production of their SIM cards locally as it was done for recharge card.

In her welcome speech, Mrs Ibokun Awoshika, the Chairperson of Intermarc Consulting said she was happy the adoption of card payment system is getting better in the country. According to her, “six years ago when the idea of Card Expo was muted, we were called dreamers. People felt that the ideal of card payment cannot work in Nigeria because of the so called “Nigerian factors”. But we are happy today that Nigerians are today using ATMs for their cash withdrawal needs.”

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