Mobile Money Africa Interview with Sean Moroney, Chairman of AITEC Africa, organisers of the African Banking & Mobile Money series of conferences
Congratulations on the wonderful event in Kenya some months back. What should West Africans expect in Lagos during the May event?
Thank you. I’m glad the word has spread regarding the successful conference we had in Nairobi in February, with over 400 delegates. Our aim is to build on the experience and widespread industry support we are accumulating to deliver a world-class conference for the Nigerian financial services sector. We have over 50 experts from 12 different countries delivering presentations, workshops, showcase presentations and panel discussions. In addition, we have 30 leading suppliers of banking solutions showcasing their products and services in the expo.
As a leading stakeholder in the financial industry in Africa, do you think regulation is catching up with innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa?
It’s a mixed picture, with great variance from country to country. Kenya, for example, has adopted a progressive approach, allowing room for innovation in the mobile payment space. Extensive dialogue between the mobile operators and the Central Bank created the necessary confidence and trust on both sides to encourage innovation, including the M-Pesa phenomenon, providing cheap and efficient money transfer services for 16 million citizens, most of whom had never engaged in any banking service before. Nigeria, the largest market in Africa, has adopted a far more conservative approach, holding back the payment services most mobile operators are ready to launch.
Three Years ago when Aitec Africa started focusing on the mobile money space, many stakeholders thought it was too futuristic but are we there yet?
Yes definitely. There has been an explosion of mobile banking and mobile payment solutions on the market. But the problem that banks and mobile operators have is how to select the right partners and solutions for their mobile services. The other major problem, in view of the wide range of systems being introduced, is interoperability across the various services that are being launched. This is one of the topics that will be addressed in one of our panel discussions
Educate us further on the array of international speakers coming to Lagos for the conference?
We are delighted to have the following international speakers:
Gabriel Swanepoel, New Technologies Manager at Visa
Suleman Shaik, Founder & CEO of Direct Channel Holdings in South Africa
Santanu Sengupta, Secretary of the Change Innovators Society in India
Vishal Gupta, CEO of Seclore Technology in India
Issa Odtallah, Regional Manager for Inmarsat, based in UAE
David Poole, Vice-President of VeriFone in the UK
Georgina Ayoola from Wavelength Consultancy Solution in the UK
Thuo Solomon, Technology Business Consultant from SevenSeas Technologies in Kenya
Russell Berman, Director of Spark ATM in South Africa
Georg Roider, CEO of Probanx Information Systems in Cyprus
Hany Fekry, Head of Sales & Marketing at Mediterranean Smart Cards Company in Egypt
Peter Bonfrer, GM of e-Security at Altech Card Solutions in South Africa
Neil Lightfoot, Engagement Manager at Genesis Analytics in South Africa
Alberto Jimenez, head of Mobile Banking SMEs in IBM from the USA
Andrea Bohnstedt, an Independent Country Risk Analyst from Kenya
Glen Jennison, Delivery & Operations Director at MiPay in the UK
About the world-class facility at Eko Hotel?
We are pleased to be one of the first business events to be held in the Eko’s new conference centre. They have created a superb facility which we can use to have a fully integrated conference, expo and workshop set-up.
This year's theme is a clear departure. Is this a reflection of industry realities?
Yes, the theme of the conference is “Thought-leadership and innovation to survive and thrive in a new banking era”, reflecting the huge shake-up that has taken place not only in the Nigerian banking industry, but also worldwide. We want to challenge bankers to think and act creatively as a positive response to this highly fluid and dynamic banking environment. I want to take this opportunity to thank the Programme Advisory Board, made up of 18 distinguished industry leaders, for the valuable input they have providing in helping me design the programme to meet the educational and professional development needs of the banking community.
For the very first time in West Africa, AITEC AFRICA will be hosting a Mobile Money Hub for stakeholders. Share with Africans, what they should expect at the Mobile Money Hub?
This is a free facility we are providing for individual innovators and SMEs in the mobile money space to showcase their innovations and network with all conference participants. We hope this will enable them to find customers, partners and even investors among the participants. We are pleased to be organising this facility in partnership with Mobile Money Africa.
The African Centre for Mobile Financial Inclusion will also be making a grand entry and launching in Arica at the Lagos Event. How significant is this to Africa and Africans.
We are delighted to be hosting this launch at the conference. It is vital for all stakeholders in the rapidly evolving mobile money space to come together in such a continent-wide industry body to share knowledge and information, develop resources on best practice in technology deployment and regulation to be used across the continent, and help develop high standards of customer service and ethics. In Africa professionals and companies tend to work far too much in isolation and the centre can play a vital role in encouraging dialogue and knowledge-sharing across the continent and internationally.