As we move into 2021, coping with the lingering effects of the COVID-19, how has the SADC region turned things around with digital banking transformation?
COVID-19 has elevated the urgency for the region to increase its rate of digital transformation and interconnection.

Before the pandemic, we had already seen some transformative changes, such as the mobile money revolution. Sub-Saharan Africa is already highly successful because of its comfort in adopting new technology (demonstrated by being the second-fastest-growing and second most profitable banking market in the world). We are at a point where approximately 80% of African banks offer mobile payments.

Along with many global regions, we have seen increasing levels of comfort across the population to transact digitally, rather than visit a banking branch. The rapid increase in the use of mobile payment processors at the expense of card payments is likely to continue.

What are the emerging technologies or innovations that you think will become crucial in 2021 across the SADC region?
Ultimately, we are trying to build systems (financial and otherwise) that uplift our nations and our customers. We need to provide simple, affordable products to customers we understand and can communicate effectively with. Our customers are more connected and have higher standards than ever before. We are also having even more virtual engagements with our customers and have to work harder to earn their trust.

Therefore, in my view, financial inclusion via more accessible payment systems and improved customer engagement are both going to be critical.

In the context of smart banking, how are Southern African banks responding to the market realities of a digital universe across the board?

We have seen a rise in challenger banks in the SADC region, those who are making the customer journey seamless and also providing them with a consolidated financial experience. Our traditional banks will need to improve their processes or risk being left behind. They have the short term advantage of customer trust in many cases but this will not last long in the modern economy. It is a tremendous opportunity for all if they can get it right and put their customers first.

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

There is no clear winner – these are all different areas that can be used together to enable global digital transformation. We will achieve the greatest benefit if we drive all of these forward.

What is the Future of Digital Payments and Fintech Innovation in SADC?
As we continue our journey of digital transformation, we will be subject to increasing regulation and digital security. We will need to ensure that we implement comprehensive data protection processes, as seen in South Africa with PoPIA.

The banking industry has a great opportunity to benefit from this rapid technological and social change. The industry must embrace this change quickly to meet customer expectations and stay relevant.

How would you think attendees will benefit by attending the 3rd Africa Bank 4.0 Summit – SADC Region?

It is a fantastic opportunity for industry leaders in the SADC region to connect and share ideas.