Ghana’s largest privately-owned bank, Fidelity Bank Ghana has partnered with the Lafferty Group to host the first 2023 meeting for the Retail Banking Council Africa. The prestigious members-only Council which saw numerous presentations and panel discussions on the theme, ‘Driving Free Trade in Africa – How financial services can contribute to Digital Trade’, took place on 3rdand 4th May at the Labadi Beach Hotel in Accra.
The Council meeting brought together distinguished business leaders and academics, top African bankers and payments professionals to deliberate on contemporary developments within the Banking, Finance and Payments space. The 2-Day event co-facilitated by the Lafferty Group and Fidelity Bank Ghana forms part of Retail Banking Council Africa’s forward-looking agenda to support the expansion of retail banking across the continent with a view towards serving people and small businesses, and ultimately helping to drive free trade between African countries.
In attendance at the Council Meeting held in Accra were officials from the Ministry of Finance, Bank of Ghana and the Office of Diasporian Affairs at the Presidency, along with representation from GhIPSS, as well as C-suite executives from Africa’s top banks and FinTechs. Discussions and case studies arising from the Council theme touched on talking points such as Ghana’s success in driving interoperability between banks and mobile money businesses as well as the ongoing success story of Fidelity Bank Ghana in championing Financial Inclusion primarily through the establishment of widespread agency banking networks.
In his keynote remarks on the opening day of the Council, Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Ghana, Julian Opuni, acknowledged the instrumental role that Banks, Fintechs and other allied businesses in the Banking and Finance value chain play in unearthing the enormous potential of Africa’s economy and driving business growth across the continent. He averred, “The rapid proliferation and increasing sophistication of digital tech in finance and beyond, coupled with significant shifts in regional and global economic policy such as the landmark African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), suggest that we may be approaching a watershed moment in Africa. This may well be Africa’s moment to emerge as a potent economic power on the world stage. However, this expectation will remain an alluring dream without a concerted and integrated effort from leaders and stakeholders in key industries such as ours to leverage on these developments and propel Africa towards the realization of its immense potential.”
Divisional Director of Retail Banking at Fidelity Bank Ghana, Nana Esi Idun-Arkhurst also reiterated these sentiments in her opening submissions on Day 2 of the Council meeting session. She remarked, “It is from proactive engagements, conversations and bonding activities such as these Council meetings that powerful relationships and ideas are activated to seize the business opportunities of today and tomorrow, to create meaningful opportunities for individuals and small businesses, and ultimately to transform the world for the better. In an era where digital technology provides a real means to circumnavigate long-standing geographical and market barriers, we are presented with a unique opportunity to collaborate and innovate to extend financial services and solutions across Africa and create life-changing opportunities particularly for women, youth and other marginalised groups.”
Dr Ronan Lynch, director at Lafferty Group, co-hosts of the Council Meeting in Accra also asserted that the Retail Banking Council Africa is an incredibly dynamic Council and a platform for the propagation of pragmatic banking solutions for real people. He said, “Banks are working with fintechs and mobile money companies in Africa in a way that doesn’t happen elsewhere. Mobile wallet use is tremendous. But the real goals are to help more small and medium businesses to do business between African countries along with the broader international markets. In this respect, the Council’s work is very practical: when banks can move money freely without those payments going through New York, London or Paris, that’s going to keep a lot more value locally and help local banks and payments businesses develop.”
This year, Retail Banking Council Africa celebrates its ninth year of supporting the development of retail banking across Africa. Established in 2015 by Lafferty Group in association with a core group of African retail banks, the Council has since held meetings in Cape Town (South Africa), Nairobi (Kenya), Stellenbosch (South Africa), Lagos (Nigeria), and Port Louis (Mauritius).
For this year’s council, the Lafferty Group partnered with Fidelity Bank, a continentally acclaimed innovation leader and pace-setter in the Financial Inclusion sphere which currently enjoys the distinction as the Best Bank in West Africa from the prestigious African Banker awards. With their mutual commitment towards driving change in Africa and impacting real lives through practical initiatives and digital innovation, the partners together with other council members look forward to spearheading other joint initiatives to advance intra and inter-continental trade by harnessing strategic partnerships vis-à-vis the power of digital technology.
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