As we move into 2021, coping with lingering effects of the COVID-19, what would be your personal takeaway from the crisis and why?

2020 was a year of great lessons, rather than challenges. The experiences we had trying to cope with the new way of life imposed on us by WHO health guidelines and boarder lockdowns, only served to enlighten us on our resilience and untapped potentials. In Nairobi, for instance, many government institutions, schools, banks and other corporate entities made reporting to work physically from 8am to 5pm an immutable ritual, until Covid-19 came and unwound new possibilities. To date, there are still banks in Kenya that have entire departments working from home and attending work-related meetings virtually. Virtual courts too was a big one for Kenya. My view as a digital ‘transformist’, is that 2020 was a rehearsal of the reality of the future. The future is inevitably digital.

What are the emerging technologies or innovations that you think will become crucial in the fiscal sector?

Key technologies to watch are Blockchain, Advanced Cyber Security, Cloud Computing, Data Analytics and AI. They all, in some way, revolve around collection of data, analysis of data, management of data, storage of data, security of data and interaction of data points. In a digital world, data is the most valuable asset; any technology that influence data handling will be disruptive. 2021, more than ever, companies and governments are likely to invest more in R&D of these technologies.

What is future of NEO banking in Africa? And what are your thoughts on “Building a Pan African NEO Bank”?

Neo-banking is at the center of efforts to deepen financial inclusion in Africa. About 60% of Africans do not have accounts with traditional banking systems, yet the infrastructural reach of these banks is still dismal and insufficient to meet the growing Africa’s population. Neo-banks have easy access to markets and a close touch with the market needs. For instance, digital/mobile banking in Kenya such as Mpesa and mobile digital lenders have significantly increased access to financial services. In essence, Africa has the greatest potential for the growth of neobanks. The idea of a Pan-African Neo Bank is, however, somewhat farfetched in my view. African market and leaders are profoundly disintegrated; different innovators targeting particular markets with neo banks would be more effective.

AI and Robotics, Blockchain, Data-science, Digital Engagement and CRM, Financial Inclusions – Which area has noted most promising adaptation in terms of innovation and digital – transformation?

That would be Digital Engagement, Data Science and CRM, at least in the short term. The immediate challenge of financial institutions is data handling and customer relations/retention. Maintaining a substantial grip on customer data and loyalty in a digitally transforming world requires proper understanding of Data Science, CRM and Digital Transformation.

What is the future of digital payments and innovation in Africa?

Digital payments will transmute significantly over the next decade. With digital payments and social media giants like Mastercard, Facebook and Twitter eying Africa’s vast populace, the race for Africa’s data is on and the one who controls the most holds the future of payments. A key uncertainty of the future is the fintech regulatory environment. I expect to see most African governments start to jealously guard citizens’ data. With rural electrification is fast expanding with adoption of solar and mega power projects on the rise to serve the over 500 million Africans who can’t access electricity; and increased penetration of internet, telecommunication and smart devices, the opportunity for innovation is immense.

How would you think attendees will benefit by attending 2 nd Africa Bank 4.0 Summit?

Most corporate executives, especially in the financial services industry, have been asleep to the effects of emerging technologies to their industries and the changing customer needs/behavior over time. Attending this summit will be an eye-opener to how the market and competition is changing, the possibilities of riding on technology to increase market share, and the expected transformation of the relevant regulatory environments. As an executive, having these information will be invaluable in growing your revenues.