Although the international banking industry is going through what may be its worst crisis in history, East African banks have to a large extent escaped the worst of it and are able to capitalise on the untapped potential of the region’s majority unbanked for future growth.
This is the message of the organisers of the Banking & Payment Technologies Conference, to be held in Nairobi over 17-19 February. “The banking sector in East Africa has mercifully little exposure to the toxic sub-prime mortgage in the USA and therefore is well placed to endure the current international financial crisis,” said Sean Moroney, Chairman of AITEC Africa, who are hosing the event.
“This year the size of the event will more than double in terms of the exhibition size and the number of conference delegates. We already have great sponsorship support, with both Paynet and Safaricom as Platinum Sponsors.
Gold sponsors of the event include Simba Technology and Technology Associates and SBA Technologies of the USA. Postilion, a leading supplier of banking switch systems, is a Silver sponsor of the event. One of the conference sessions will focus on the development of a regional switch to facilitate inter-bank financial transactions.
A major focus of the conference will be mobile banking. “Banks have been upstaged by the mobile operators in terms of providing low-cost money transfer services for customers and are now having to play catch-up. The conference will provide a valuable opportunity for banks to learn more about the range of mobile banking services that have been developed across Africa and beyond, and assess the best options for their own adoption. They need to decide whether mobile operators are competitors or potential partners that could help them extend banking services to the majority of Africa’s population that remains unbanked. By combining the security systems and experience of banks with the wide reach of mobile operators, the industry could come up with unique solutions and services that transform African economies. The question is whether there is business leadership in place that has the vision to think beyond crude competition to explore the partnerships that could create a new era for banking in East Africa,” said Conference Chairman Joe DiVanna, CEO of Maris Strategies. Mr DiVanna, a leading expert on banking in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, has been appointed by AITEC to chair the conference and advise on the programme development.
Speakers on mobile banking include Bjorn Soderberg, a consultant from Sweden who recently completed a study on mobile banking systems in Africa, Pauline Vaughan, Head of Safaricom’s M-PESA service, and Girisch Nair, Founder and Chairman of Technology Associates who developed Equity Bank’s Eazzy 24/7 mobile banking service.