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Ecobank MD addresses tech impact on banks as he reacts to fears over job losses 

The Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan, has defended the role of technology in the financial institution after it was projected that the adoption of technology would lead to the sack of workers in the banking sector.

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Ecobank Patrick Akinwuntan

The Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan, has defended the role of technology in the financial institution after it was projected that the adoption of technology would lead to the sack of workers in the banking sector. The projection must have forced Standard Chartered Bank to abandon its expansion plan and Union Bank to close down its branches.

Akinwuntan dispelled the fears of massive job loss in the next coming years. According to him, the infusion of technology has widened the services needed in the financial space and so, technology has created more jobs than the banks would have naturally created. 

The Ecobank MD’s comment is contrary to what the President, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Uche Olowu, said late last month. Olowu disclosed that Nigerian banks were beginning to review their business model – which was very much the traditional banking system – as technology penetrated deeper into the tasks that workers carry out. 

Olowu said technology would take up 30% of work in the bank, and the staff expected to be affected are tellers. According to him, they would be the major casualties of the onslaught of technology. The impact is likely to be felt in the next two to three years. 

[READ MORE: SEC advises Afribank shareholders to claim dividends]

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However, during an interview with Nairametrics on the sidelines of The Colloquium 2019 (a Students’ Investment Conferenceheld at the University of Lagos (UNILAG)Akinwuntan argued against such narrative or outcome. He said technology had enabled Ecobank empower 6000 Nigerians who now work in the financial market as entrepreneurs. 

“Actually, it (technology) creates more jobs. We have about 6000 agent locations. We couldn’t have employed 6000 new staff, but we are able to create employment for 6000 merchants within a short space because we are leveraging technology.  

“When you are able to open an account online straight on the phone, either Ecobank Online or on the mobile phone, it means that you are empowered to participate in the financial system in Nigeria. And you can therefore be your own employer and your own entrepreneur. 

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“So, we are creating jobs by supporting both the digital ecosystem, by creating more opportunities to create more entrepreneurs, and of course by having competent professionals joining Ecobank… We support small and medium enterprises. We launched Ecobano Payzone in all major markets in Nigeria where we are supporting entrepreneurs.”

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He added that apart from technology, the lender was nurturing future bankers through Ecobank academy.

“We have close to 400 new Ecobankers at our academy which is now accredited by the Chartered Institute of Bankers, and with our partnership with Investment Society, we look forward in being able to attract young talents.” 

It’s not a win-win situation: While Akinwuntan is right that technology is creating jobs, it is also preventing job creation. The advancement of technology in the financial services has made some banks to shed their expansion plan. 

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Standard Chartered Bank announced that it wouldn’t be investing in the expansion of the bank, stating that investment in brick and mortar would stop to allow the banks to invest in technology or the digital space. 

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Union Bank also revealed that some branches would be closed to enable the bank focus on its digital solution and agency banking (which is the focus of banks now). 

The shutdown and cancelling of expansion will affect bank jobs even though technology will create some side jobs. If banks close their branches, there is a possibility of job losses in the sector, and when banks don’t expand, the undergraduates studying and hoping to get bank jobs will find the already limited opportunities further reduced.

[READ ALSO: Bank CEO reveals what can prevent growth of telecoms’ mobile money]

Olalekan is a certified media practitioner from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ). In the era of media convergence, Olalekan is a valuable asset, with ability to curate and broadcast news. His zeal to write was developed out of passion to shape people’s thought and opinion; serving as a guideline for their daily lives. Contact for tips: [email protected]

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Energy

Togo, Niger, Benin remit N2.04 billion to Nigeria for power supply

Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission says international electricity customers remitted the sum of N2.04billion to Nigeria in three months.

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NERC postpones increase of electricity tariffs

Nigeria’s international electricity customers – Togo, Niger, and Benin, remitted the sum of N2.04billion in the first quarter of 2020, as their outstanding electricity bill to the Market Operator (MO) of the sector in Nigeria.

This was found in the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission 2020 first quarter report, which was released recently.

According to the report, a total of N4.05billion ($13.22million) invoices were issued by the MO to international customers including Societe Nigerienne d’electricite or NIGELEC; Societe Beninoise d’Energie Electrique (SBEE); and Compagnie Energie Electrique du Togo (CEET).

The commission stated that during the quarter, NIGELEC made a payment of ₦1.61billion ($5.27million) as part of its outstanding bills for the energy received from NBET and services rendered by the MO.

It stated, “Similarly, SBEE paid ₦0.43billion ($1.39million) in respect of services received from MO.

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“It was noteworthy that tariff shortfall (represented by the difference between actual end-user tariffs payable by consumers and the cost-reflective rates approved by NERC) had partly contributed to liquidity challenges being experienced in the industry.

“The settlement ratio to the expected Minimum Remittance Thresholds, having adjusted for tariff shortfall, indicated that power distribution companies needed to improve on their performance.”

But

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Special customers like Ajaokuta Steel Co. Ltd and others in its environs did not make any payment in respect of the N0.27billion and N0.05billion invoices issued to them by the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc and the MO respectively, during the period under view.

Meanwhile, the power distributors failed to remit N119.88billion to the sector within the same period.

Whereas Discos were expected to make a market remittance of 46.09% during 2020/Q1, only 32.53% settlement rate was achieved within the timeframe provided for market settlement in the Market Rules,” it added.

What it means: The Discos’ remittance level, regardless of the prevailing tariff shortfall, was still below the expected MRT and they are expected to improve on their performances.

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ENDSARS

#EndSARS: Protests may return if panels do not address all issues in 2 weeks – Former Nigerian Minister

Akinyemi says the #EndSARS protesters would return to the streets if their demands are not addressed in two weeks.

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This was disclosed by Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, during a news interview with ARISE TV this afternoon, as he called on the FG to urgently address the issues raised by the protesters, as these issues extend beyond police brutality and the immediate reform of the Nigeria Police force.
He explained during the interview that the current demands of the youths extend beyond basic needs, which remain the core mandate of the present administration.
He likened the #EndSARS protest to the #BlackLivesMatter demonstration and reiterated that demands of the youth extend beyond stomach infrastructure, as it is more of a call for good governance in a bid to address the concrete issues that the country faces.
He called for strategic actions towards combatting the evils of unemployment in Nigeria; called on the military to employ more military men to soak up the unemployment, and also provide security for the country.
On the issue of restructuring, Professor Akinyemi said restructuring is also key to solving the many problems facing the country.
The Professor of Political Science noted that the way forward for Nigeria will be for the government to utilize the Justice Mohammed Uwais report on electoral reforms and the 2014 National Conference report, which he believes addresses the issues confronting Nigerians.
What they are saying
During the interview, Professor Akinyemi said, “I will say and let me believe I am wrong, the judicial panels have just two weeks to address all these issues before the youths come back to the streets. The government should at least give the youths the impression that you have not set up all these panels to buy time, but that you are genuinely and seriously interested in addressing their issues.”
He reiterated the need for the employment of more police officers,
We told the government, because I was part of that conference, that the United Nations said Nigeria needs 1.5 million policemen. We have only about 350,000 and we were recommending that the Nigerian government should employ 750,000 more policemen.”
What we’ve seen in the past two weeks is that we don’t have enough men in uniform to guarantee security in this country if every part of the country decides to blow up. So you serve two purposes – employment and security, and those are things you can do immediately.
“We have just seen how every Governor was scrambling around in the past two weeks; if you allow each state to have its own state police, you wouldn’t have that experience. I have heard of a situation where the streets took over even governance in almost every state. So, restructuring is that you allow things to be done at the local level.”

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Coronavirus

COVID-19: Jason Njoku and wife test positive

iROKOtv CEO and wife have contracted the novel coronavirus.

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Jason Njoku and Wife testes positive to Covid-19

Jason Chukwuma Njoku, the co-founder and CEO of iROKOtv and his wife has tested positive for COVID-19. However, Mrs. Mary Njoku is feeling well.

Jason,  disclosed this via his Twitter handle stating that “My enemies are hard at work in 2020. Mrs. Njoku and I tested positive for Covid-19. I’m not feeling great, but Mary is well. Literally no idea how I caught it. But we shall see this pass too.”

The media mogul did not reveal if his children caught the virus too.

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