Interview with Nana Yaw OwusuBanahene

How is the West Africa region responding to the adoption of latest digital solutions and payment technologies?

“The West Africa region is one of the most earnest adopters of digital payments and emerging technologies. Historically, our banks, fintechs, and businesses have embraced technologies like mobile money, which in turn brings new digital solutions to more West Africans. The market’s response to our innovative spirit is a positive one, and I do not think it is a coincidence that the headquarters of the AfCFTA is now in West Africa as well. This is due to the pioneering approach of both banks and fintechs like us, and together over the years, we have created a highly versatile payments ecosystem in West Africa that works for businesses, citizens, and our regulators. I expect this positive response to continue in the future.”

How do you predict the future journey for Fintech-Bank will be this year. What are the defining changes in this relationship from the past?

“Banks and fintechs in West Africa have a solid working relationship. As a payments and services partner of many banks, we at AZA Finance have consistently found that banks are some of the biggest adopters and, indeed, customers of fintechs like us. This is because we speak the same language and seek to achieve the same objective – to bridge gaps in services and drive value for our customers. This year, I expect to see even more focus turn to fintechs for treasury services as banks become a major player in helping large multinational companies expand in West Africa. Similarly, as more B2C fintechs arrive in the market to service West African citizens without bank accounts, they will need banking partners to achieve their goals. In this way, I see that fintechs and banks will continue to collaborate.”

According to you, which area of the West Africa Region’s financial sector will witness remarkable innovation in the future? – and why?

  • Fintech Collaborations
  • Payment Innovation (Digital/Cashless/Contactless)
  • Role of Advanced technology and its implementation
  • Financial Inclusion

“The financial sector we have here in West Africa is growing remarkably, and one of the driving factors is increased collaboration between fintechs and our trusted financial institutions. We know these collaborations will drive innovation because we’ve experienced it many times before, having partnered with several large PSPs and banks to build infrastructure that supports faster and more reliable payments, treasury, and currency exchange. The exchange of technology and expertise creates financial rails that work exceedingly well. In turn, these efficient financial services drive even more innovation by the businesses and customers they serve through seamless access to funds, currencies, and global markets.”

With reference to the insights you shared at the event – how relevant and important you feel is the topic that you addressed.

“Finding a partner that either can provide or help you build a streamlined cross-border payments system is one of the most impactful steps African banks, fintechs, and businesses can be focused on at this moment. The AfCFTA is driving interest in intra-Africa and global Africa trade, which has only heightened the demand for more payment rails and frictionless currency exchange. It will only become more important next year, and for our part, AZA Finance is fully focused on helping banks and financial institutions address this demand.”

How would you think attendees will benefit by attending the 13th Africa Bank 4.0 Summit –West Africa?

“We are honoured to be joining the 13th Africa Bank 4.0 Summit in West Africa, as it is one of the best forums for stakeholders like businesses, banks, and fintechs to collaborate on how to build a more connected digital world for our fellow citizens.”