Nigerian Fintech Week Day 1: Resilience, innovation and diversification key to building a robust tech ecosystem

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Written by Stephen Agwaibor

The sixth edition of the Nigerian Fintech Week took off in style at the Landmark Centre in Lagos. The three-day event billed for October 24–26, 2023, is themed “Fintech: Resilience, Innovation and Diversification”.

The annual event, hosted by the Fintech Association of Nigeria (FAN), commenced with an opening address by its president, Ade Bajomo. In his speech, Bajomo noted that the three pillars for long-term success in Nigeria’s fintech are resilience, innovation, and diversification in the face of “competitive threats, emerging technologies, and the need to meet the needs of customers.”

Bajomo explained that resilience was critical now, particularly in the wake of growing cybersecurity threats in 2023. In his words, “Thirty-three percent of computers are vulnerable to cyberattacks, based on recent surveys.” He also stressed the need for regulatory compliance from fintech firms in which changes require “resilience to adapt, to withstand volatile markets and economic downturns”.

Despite the current economic clime, Bajomo disclosed that as of Q2 2023, Nigeria attracted 42% of the share of fintech deals in Africa. He also said that the country boasts the highest number of unicorns on the continent, with over 250 fintechs and 6,000 startups. Nevertheless, he noted that there was still room for more, highlighting the need for richer and deeper talent pools, as there were less than 100,000 developers in Nigeria. He also made the case for inclusion, revealing that 40 million people remain underserved, with other areas of tech ripe for exploration, including agritech and proptech. Bajomo called for more structures and key verticals to be built to allow the tech ecosystem to become self-sustaining. 

Digital divide shrinking in Africa

Presenting the keynote speech on behalf of the African Development Bank

(AfDB) president was Lamin Barrow, the director-general of the Nigeria Country Department of the AfDB. Barrow noted that the conference’s theme resonated with the imperative of the times by disclosing that Africa’s real GDP growth rate slowed to 3.8% in 2022 from 4.8% in 2021. 

Despite these, he highlighted wins for fintech in Africa in which he noted that 33% of adults in Sub-Saharan Africa now have a mobile money account—the largest of any region in the world. He also said that by volume, 70% of mobile money transactions come from Africa alone, which helped countries with more robust financial systems on the continent scale up transfers. Barrow says, “While the digital divide is shrinking in Africa, it still exists.” He disclosed that the AfDB is working towards developing a fintech hub, which 75% of African fintech members will benefit from by 2025.

Other event highlights

The fireside events included discussions with industry stakeholders like Olumide Soyombo of BlueChip Technologies; Ebehijie Momoh, country manager and area business head for Mastercard, West Africa; Tajudeen Mustapha, head of risk management and compliance at Xpress Payment Solutions; Will Stevens, US consul general; Akeem Lawal, Interswitch Purepay MD; regulatory stakeholders from the CBN, among others. 

Discussions centred around risk and compliance, digital trust, talent acquisition and retention, and customer-centric innovation.

The event also saw the launch of a fintech whitepaper on Nigerian fintech’s cloud adoption. Huawei Technologies published the paper in conjunction with FAN. The paper covered pillars of cloud computing, including cloud plan, cloud run, and cloud governance, bringing to the fore issues on security and compliance, data migration, and adoption roadmaps. To download the whitepaper, visit here.

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