By Emma Okonji
The Head, African Fintech Foundry (AFF), Mr. Victor Okigbo has said that the Nigerian economy would benefit from the recent collaboration between banks and FinTechs.
Okigbo who spoke at the just concluded AFF Conference in Lagos, based his assurance on the democratisation of financial services in the country.
According to him, the much-awaited financial inclusion will become existent in the application, services and solutions created by companies.
"Loans that are inaccessible to everyone, will becomes accessible as a result of this great collaboration. Financial advisory services will be available only to the top one per cent and consequently made available to a large audience," Okigbo said.
Speaking on the importance of the collaboration, he said: "We are bringing together disparate groups that represents different financial services and emerging FinTech disruption and we are helping them to connect, also surrounding them with investors, mentors, coaches and opportunities."
He explained that the conference served as a meeting point for all these disparate groups to collaborate and create the future.
The Executive Director, Access Bank, in charge of Personal Banking, Mr. Victor Etuokwu, explained that AFF remained a brainchild of Access bank and in existent to boost the technology, health, defense, security, and agriculture sectors of the Nigerian economy.
"AFF was Access Bank accelerator, which sought to create new opportunities in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa. The foundry was to provide a platform designed to inspire and challenge African innovators, entrepreneurs and developers.
"The idea of the foundry was conceived a year ago as the bank was thinking of better ways to remain relevant in the coming years. It was then it dawned on them that innovation was the only insurance that the bank has against irrelevance.
"AFF will provide African tech start-ups seeking to launch their product, with capacity building and training in business development and will also provide connectivity to global innovation grids, promote access to capital, create opportunities for partnerships and showcase best practices and successes in Africa-led innovation solutions," Etuokwu said.
He further explained that the bank was looking for better ways to serve its customers and stakeholders and, in order to be and remain relevant in an ever-changing world, it has to be innovative, stressing that AFF and the AFF Disrupt conference remained one of the ways to grow and maintain the market share of the bank.
"We knew right from the beginning that we needed to have people who are different and can be very creative outside of a regular banking environment. That was why we created this foundry.
"It took us a long time looking for those who will run it, and we have the team that we think will take us to that effort," he said.
According to him, the idea was to generate new products and enter new markets, which is an open environment for every person who is creative, including innovators and developers."