Banks now depend heavily on telecoms to get things done – Zenith Bank MD




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Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu

By Segun Fatuase

LAGOS – Group Managing Director of Zenith Bank, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu has commended the phenomenal growth of telecommunications in Nigeria, stressing that it has changed the trend of business and financial services.
‘Telecommunications has facilitated banking services and product innovation. Going forward, there is going to be heavy dependency on telecommunications to get things done”, he stressed.

He spoke at the Telecommunications Revolution At 20 Summit Anniversary Lecture held in Lagos on Thursday.

The theme of the summit was: ‘Telecommunications in Nigeria; The Revolution And The Next Frontier’.

In his presentation titled: ‘Telecommunications  as a catalyst for financial inclusion’, Onyeagwu commended the revolution in telecommunications in the last 20 years, adding that electronic transactions as well as the 5G deployment offers greater possibilities of doing business.
“Financial inclusion means that banking services at sustainable and affordable cost, are now done in a better way. Once you have your telephone, you now have access to quality banking  services.  This contributes greatly to the quality of life”, he added.
Onyeagwu commended the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for sustaining the  technological drive particularly the introduction of USSD was a game changer for the banking industry and made customers, even in the rural areas to enjoy banking services.
He however called for a better and improved inclusiveness  through a review of the broad band rates to make things more affordable.
He called for concerted efforts to tackle cybercrimes which he described as a potent threat to the banking sector.
The Zenith Bank  boss also called for digital literacy on data protection  for users as well as a way of detecting fraudulent websites, identity theft being used to defraud people.

Telecommunications reforms in Nigeria has been very successful with visible grassroots impact.
The  information revolution  was  made possible by rapid development and advances in telecommunications and computer technology. The advent of telephone infrastructure  with the licensing of  Airtel, MTN and Globacom  gave life to the spread of the Global System of Mobile Communication (GSM). The licensing of private operators was the result of a week-long spectrum Digital Mobile Licensing (DML) auction, which took place in January 2001, in Abuja, and conducted, by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), under the leadership of Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, during the era of President Olusegun Obasanjo.
It confirmed the assertion that access  to telecommunications is key to the development of all aspects of Nigeria’s  economy including manufacturing, banking, education, agriculture and government.
The gains of GSM also translate to economic empowerment of Nigerians, Stimulation of local investment, direct and indirect job creation,  Indigenous skills acquisition and technology transfer, Increased Banking sector turnover through loans, advances, e-commerce and e-banking, Foreign capital inflow, Increased tax revenue for the Nigerian government and a positive contribution to Nigeria’s GDP.

It is interesting to mention that while there are 297 million connected lines, 187.9 million are active. This has pushed Nigeria’s tele- density to 106.6 per cent. The country can also boast of 140 million Internet users.

Today,  the Nigerian telecommunication sector has made an appreciable impact. The advent of 5G technology and the emergence of  Digital Solutions built by Nigerians for Nigerians based on Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality/Mixed Reality and Machine Learning are also commendable . It only goes to show that Nigeria, at this stage,  is actively contributing its quota to the digital global world.