Sterling Bank MD urges deployment of digital technology to solve socio-economic problems

The Managing Director/Chief Executive, Sterling Bank Plc, Abubakar Suleiman has called on members of the Committee on e-Business Industry Heads (CeBIH) to deploy digital competencies used in developing Nigeria’s payment system to solve other socio-economic problems in the country.

He gave the charge while delivering the keynote address at the 2018 annual CeBIH retreat held in Abeokuta Ogun State.

“All the intellectual power that was used to attack payment now needs to be moved elsewhere,” he said.

Speaking on the theme of the retreat: “Exploring Opportunities in the New Digital Economy,” Abubakar noted that while there is crisis in critical sectors of Nigeria, namely education, agriculture and transport, banks and others, digital payment professionals have the capabilities and solutions to accelerate the solution to the crises in these sectors.

“I think we live at a time when we have new tools and these tools are so powerful, that all we need to do is to decide we are serious about solving any number of problem and we can solve them in record time,” he said.

Speaking on the impact of digitisation as a tool for addressing socio-economic issues, Abubakar was quoted in a statement to have said: “Digitisation is on one hand data, and on the other hand how you transmit data. Every single work we do in digitisation has to do with data and how it is transmitted and what it does.

“The pace of the commerce will determine the pace of payment. So if we don’t solve for payments we would not have been able to solve for commerce or increase the pace of commerce which is essentially what drives your GDP, the velocity of money, of transactions cannot be higher than velocity of transaction in the real world.

“There is one thing I am hoping to see, it is taking all of these competencies that we have built in the payment space and recognising that it is the same processing data in a manner that is reliable, trusted, instant, and using that to change lives in other sectors of the economy.”

Also speaking, the Deputy Director/Head of Payment System Oversight, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Musa Jimoh, called on banks to leverage on the huge data at their disposal to develop innovative solutions to customers’ socio-cultural need.

“The greatest challenge that we have today within the payment industry is how we see our data. The banks, the financial system, they are all sitting on huge data but it looks like nobody is harnessing it,” he said.

He noted that the theme of the retreat was apt in line with the CBN’s Payment System Vision 2020, which seeks to push cashless policy along eight critical sectors of the economy including education, transport, government payment etc.

He said the central bank expects CeBIH to use discussions at the retreat to come up with very useful suggestions that will help in pushing a more digital and inclusive environment.

Speaking earlier, in his opening address, Chairman of CeBIH, Stanley Jacob said: “CeBIH believes that digitisation and electronic business has gone beyond payments and channels as it now feeds into every critical sector of the economy and our daily lifestyle.

“So our key actions for 2019, most of which will be taken from here will focus on the new digital economy with focus on six critical areas namely agriculture, education, health, transport, government (P2G, G2P) and digital entrepreneurship. We think these key aspects of our economy require urgent attention.

“We have of very strong belief that regardless of how much we try to digitise payments if the core operations of these sectors are not digitise we might be able to appropriately plug payments into them.”

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