First Bank of Nigeria Ltd. has pledged support for startups and innovators in the fintech ecosystem by providing relevant data and infrastructure that would enable them to succeed.

Dr Adesola Adeduntan, FirstBank Chief Executive, made the promise at the bank’s FinTech Summit 5.0, on Thursday in Lagos. The summit, which is the fifth in its series, had the theme:  “Open Banking and Its Derivatives Opportunities in the Financial Ecosystem”.

Adeduntan said that the summit was organised to create a global platform for brainstorming on the future of innovation in the financial services sector and specifically in the financial technology space.

The FirstBank boss said that part of the objectives of the summit was to contribute to the rapid evolution in banking and financial services delivery.

“The summit gives us a very good platform to hear from leading experts in the space because open data, cloud technology, artificial intelligence and the way they operate together to create the right environment for innovation or evolution, is becoming important.

“For us, Open Banking demonstrates the practical fusion of these variables, presenting potential that can redefine product development, customer experience and overall value creation within the financial services system with a significant multiplier effect, not just for players but also for consumers of financial services products.

“We believe there is enough space for continuous innovation and for us as an economy to rapidly embrace this in the bid to materially upgrade the quality of financial services in Nigeria.

“As an institution that is over 127 years old, our bank has series of industrial transformations and will continue to play a leading role in forging the conversations on refining regulatory frameworks and shaping the industry not just for Open Banking but for all contemporary issues to back our industry.

“We will also continue to demonstrate our support for startups and innovators in the fintech space by providing them with relevant data, support and infrastructure to enable them to scale appropriately, through our SMEConnect platform,” he said.

Prof. Ndubuisi Ekekwe, the keynote speaker and Lead Faculty of Tekedia Institute spoke on: “Open Banking: The Grand Unification of Application Utility Age”.

According to Ekekwe, Open Banking is the mechanics where banks are required to share their market data through API’s, which are third party companies, to help to drive innovation. Ekekwe said that through APIs, different companies would have access to customers.

He called for the development of the credit system to grow the economy, noting that Open Banking could create the credit architecture to help individuals to rise in the economic ecosystem.

“Open Banking offers us a very important tool, it makes it possible for you to share customer data as a bank with trusted third-parties through APIs without any form of violation of privacy or risks.

“It gives retail customers the opportunity that their data can be aggregated, and with an analytic system, you can have an insight of what is happening within your banking experience.

“There will not be a catalytic evolution in Nigeria’s economic architecture without a credit system, which is urgently needed for us to have the opportunity of expanding our economy.

“I believe that open banking through data aggregation and the analytic system can also bring a national credit architecture that will make it possible for every one of us to rise and imagine every person with a BVN will have a credit score,” Ekekwe said.

The Deputy Director of Payment System of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Musa Jimoh, represented by Mr Olubukola Akinwunmi of the apex bank, said that the framework looked specifically around risk management that needed to be built.

Jimoh said: “Eventually when we go full blast open banking regime, we take care of the main concerns of customers.

“One of the main aspects of the open banking regime is the registry.

“The current framework has already indicated that the bank will be engaging industry stakeholders to come up with defined guidelines on how a number of the positions of the framework will be translated into operations,” he said.

He said that the Open Banking registry would promote transparency and ensure that customers would know who they would be dealing with,” he added.


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