“Bankers of Africa, TIME TO take your responsabilities”

The Silicon Valley of banking is in Africa; it is on this continent that retail banks are reinventing themselves.

With 80 to 90% of the population outside the banking system and 100% of the working population equipped with at least one mobile phone, it is natural for digital mobile banking to be built and deployed to serve these populations. Financial inclusion is a great opportunity for African bankers who will use the latest computer technologies to conquer this new market.

Europe and the US are lagging behind because they are blocked by a completely saturated market. Western bankers will consequently take longer than African bankers to enter the History of digital banking.

With the arrival of digital, our lives have changed, and we do not remember how we used to manage our itineraries, our emails, our photos, our appointments, and our alerts. We are therefore expecting a great deal from African bankers, who will create this reinvented bank that will finally match our new lives.

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This is all the more strategic since the African economy cannot emerge as long as the population remains unbanked, in the informal sector. Obviously, this is a matter of securing and facilitating exchanges and movements of money, but it is above all about mobilizing local savings to fuel the economy. Bearing this dual responsibility, African bankers are at the heart of their country's development.

But beware, the question is not whether to get the unbanked into the financial system. The question is who will do it. It is now clear that telecom operators are attacking parts of the banking chain. The success of Orange, Vodacom and MTN with their mobile money services are all worrying signs for the banks. Until now, the control of mobile technologies allowed them to take refuge behind this barrier that seemed insurmountable. Now the technology is available to all bankers and no matter the telecom operators. As Société Générale proves it with YUP!, TMB with Pepele mobile or Coris with Coris Money, the bank can deploy profitable activities to enhance financial inclusion successfully and independently.

Here again, the responsibility of the banks for the socio-economic development of the continent is vital, because the objective of the telecom operators is certainly not to finance the economy. Nor it is the goal of the GAFAs and other Californian or Chinese giants, in ambush to take over the future continental banking system. So a word to the wise: bankers of Africa, you would better start moving fast…