Banking sector was forced to adopt the digital format to guarantee resilience and sustainable growth after Covid -19

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Bankers from the Sub-Saharan Africa and China region, who attended the Huawei Online Financial Services Industry Summit in Sub-Saharan Africa 2020, agree that digitizing the sector will provide resilience against the effects of the current Covid-19 pandemic, as well as ensure growth sustained in the post Covid era.

The pan-African Conference on the theme '' Accelerating digital transformation, again promotes business growth '' was attended by 1.200 bankers from multiple banks, telecommunications operators, fintech and ICT service providers.

Opening the event, Liao Yong, Huawei's vice president for the Southern Africa region, said that advances in ICTs present a unique opportunity for the banking sector, especially when approximately 70% of the region's population does not have a bank account.

"All of these ICT advances will be crucial enablers for a prosperous banking sector in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. As we can see, the merger of these two areas, ICT and banking, is powerful. '' However, the use of this power depends on how much and how soon the banking sector becomes digital.'' Said Liao.

There has been a rapid adoption of mobile technologies in the region, with economic growth in the past 2 decades. According to GSMA and 4G statistics, the adoption of mobile broadband technology will exceed 2G in 2023 and the total number of exclusive subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa will reach 600 million users in 2025, representing half of the region's population.

At the online event, Brett King, author of Bank 4.0, a mobile banking startup based in New York, said that the behavioral changes imposed by the coronavirus provide additional support for the need for a digital transformation in the banking sector.

'' For many users the decline in the use of physical bank branches is an inescapable factor. The reality is that a trend of several decades is likely to accelerate, which we have been following, towards digitalization. So when we look at the banking structure moving forward and the real elements that were accelerated during the coronavirus period, we see that the shift to digital is creating a certain, much more aligned digital experience. Basically, this leads us to a new banking model, that is, we moved to this low impact banking system, incorporated in the world around us, '' said King.

In China, in spite of the decline in GDP in the first quarter, the financial sector recorded an annual growth of 6%. Analysts attribute this growth to the sector's years of unremitting digital transformation.

The former Chief Information Officer of China Merchant Bank and current Director of Digital Transformation of the Global Financial Services of the Huawei Business Group, Chen Kunte, said that digitization will give the banking sector the necessary resilience during the public health crisis. Making use of banks, wherever they may be, cannot become a reality without taking advantage of the cloud, AI and Big Data.

'' We need to restructure the banks' ICT platforms, moving from the format once used to the cloud-based one, an open format, by building platforms that are based on AI and data-driven, to expand the way in which companies Financial institutions interact with their customers and accommodate more innovative business models and service scenarios, '' explained Chen.

Banks in the region shared some case studies related to digitization in banking services in the region.

Lucille De Kock, Head of Data Analysis and Product Management at FNB, South Africa, introduced fundamental changes in all dimensions to transform the bank into a useful, reliable and people-oriented monetary manager, taking advantage of digital platforms and data.

According to what you said Alex Siboe Wekunda, head of DFS, KCB, 97% of all transactions are made via digital, which leads to significant growth during the pandemic. Fortunately, we have invested considerably in our platform, which made us able to meet this demand. And, Joshua Oigara, CEO and DG, of the KCB Group, SA said that KCB will continue to stimulate this investment, in addition to the lending platform, as it has proved to be quite successful.

Globally, Huawei works with more than 1.000 financial institutions, including 6 of the top 10 banks worldwide, on this path of digital transformation.

Liao concluded by saying that, '' Our more than 20-year operations in Sub-Saharan Africa allow us to think globally and act locally, providing our customers in the region with solutions tailored to their requests, to make the scanning process smooth and peaceful, as if it were a technology company working in the sector fineand not as if the bank were trying to adapt disruptive technologies''.

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