The Readers Hub-Gh is pleased to bring to you another most interactive, exciting and educative encounter with one of our ardent Readers in our Social Media Monk session. The discourse was moderated by our regular host Dr Hakeem Tahiru Balubie (Dr. Tilapia) as they discussed extensively on the theme dubbed: The Future of Banking, Financial and Health Service Delivery in Ghana In A Digitalised World.
The digital revolution has made it feasible for governments and corporate entities, digital technology savvy countries to collect, process, store, protect and transmit the very complex and massive amount of data on citizens or employees’ health, banking, finance, education, and security, among others. In the field of health, digital technologies are being deployed for the diagnosis of diseases and monitoring of the health of patients remotely through the deployment of wireless digital technologies with powerful remote sensors. Individuals in digitalized economies are afforded the leverage to carry out online buying or selling, online mobile banking, online financial transactions and resolve customer service complains/technical problems online – in the comfort of their homes.
The digital technology revolution has, indeed, revolutionized and transformed the efficiency of governance institutions and systems, performance of corporate organizations and the social well-being of individuals in a myriad of ways, albeit the concerns of information security due to corresponding upsurge in cybercrime, cyber fraud and other forms of digital infractions against users of digital technologies such as company employees, and customers.
The world is virtually digitalized, as every facet of human endeavour is increasingly being controlled with digital technologies such as smartphones, smart-computers, microchips and robots. The digital technological revolution had already set in motion, the principle social distancing, before the advent of COVID-19; thus, digital technologies have it made feasible for people, especially the youth, to relate more closely and remotely with people online than the people in their neighborhoods. Most of the countries in the technologically advanced and industrialized world have successfully migrated from manual methods of banking, financial and health service delivery to digital systems.
In Ghana, mobile money transfer has become ubiquitous. Most Ghanaians, regardless of their educational or social status, have found it very expedient to utilize the mobile money transfer systems to remit relatives and friends as well as carry out basic financial transactions with business vendors or customers, using very basic mobile phone devices. Apparently, the mobile money transfer system has become a viable alternative for most unlettered Ghanaians who cannot transact with the intellectualized mainstream banking system. Some educated folks who cannot put up with long queues in the traditional banks, also resort to the mobile money transfer system for their private financial transactions.
Transforming Ghana’s economy from a cash-driven and manual paper-cataloguing economy to a cashless and digitalized economy has been a longstanding aspiration. The extant Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has copiously affirmed his desire to see Ghana leapfrogging in the international digital space and has always seized every opportunity to show the NPP government’s desire to transform Ghana into a digitalized economy. Former President and the Flagbearer of the NDC party for Ghana’s upcoming presidential election in December 2020, John Dramani Mahama, as part of his vision for Ghana’s future, enjoins Ghanaian to join him to “make Ghana a leader in digital education, for the sake of all our children and generations to come”.
The above concerns may seem intellectually intuitive. However, the current state of ICT literacy and internet penetration in Ghana; give rise to reasonable doubts on Ghana’s preparedness to migrate from conventional banking, finance and health systems to digitalized systems without risking the exclusion of a significant majority of Ghanaians from accessing services from the aforesaid service sectors.
It is in view of the aforesaid that The Readers Hub-Gh is honoured to host one of our ardent readers on our Social Media Monk session, a very industrious, erudite, and experienced professional banker, Mr. Awusi Zakaria. He will be helping us with measured answers to critical questions on thematic aspects of a digitalized economy, such as digital banking, Fintech, digital health and data mining, with the overriding objective helping us to fully appreciate, in a more profound way, the existential and/or potential challenges that Ghana must contend with, and the prospects that exist to serve as propellants for Ghana’s aspiration to join the high-table fraternity of digitalized economies in the world.
We are keen to know from our abled discussant, how Ghana’s migration to a digital economy, will place the country on the path of robust and unprecedented economic growth and development whilst improving the social welfare of Ghanaians.
We anticipate that the discussion will enlighten us on the ramifications of digital banking, digital finance, Fintech and data mining for Ghana’s quest to promoting the creation, sustenance and growth of private enterprises.
He will also help us understand how digitalization of banking, finance and health service in Ghana would enhance greater transparency in financial accountability in public service as well as how a digitalized economy would boost Ghana’s quest and capacity to resolve the problems of graduate unemployment, white-collar crime – bribery and corruption in the public service, and money laundering.
Dr. Hakeem Tahiru (Dr. Tilapia): Good evening Mr. Awusi Zakariah. You are welcome to the Readers Hub-Gh Social Media Monk.
Mr. Awusi Zakariah: Good evening distinguished Readers. My name is Awusi Zakariah. I currently work with a bank in Ghana here. I am happy to be part of the show. Thank you
Dr. Hakeem Tahiru (Dr. Tilapia): To start on a very good note, may you please provide Readers with the conceptual definitions of the following key concepts which underpin our discussion tonight?
- Digital Banking
- Digital Health
- Data mining
Awusi Zakariah: Can I please honour the house with working definitions. To begin with, today, readers here are no longer new to Tech, Digi, Fintech, Tech Health or Digital Health, Insurtech. This is because we are privileged to be having our conversations tonight digitally. I am very sure that, whilst readers may have some attention for us tonight, they are equally engaged in doing other stuffs. This is the power of technology helping in multi-tasking.
- Digital banking: It is simply traditional banks, investing in technology and advancing this technology into the traditional way of doing banking businesses. Is it new? I will answer NO. Because, the very day banks started using adding machines, calculators, fax machines, servers, table top computers, laptops, IPad, and now smart phones, they are into digital banking. Thus, technology has been advanced generationally.
- Fintech: Referes to financial institutions using technology to deliver their financial services and products
- Techfin: Technological companies, using the power of telecommunications to deliver financial services.E.g. MTN MoMo lending.
NB: Fintech is about banks and Savings and loans companies whiles Techfin is about Telecommunications companies.
- Digital health: uses the same principle as Techfin. Thus, using technology to bring health to each and every one on the go.
Today, under COVID19, bank security men are administering digital health. When your temperature is high; they will prepare you for ambulance service.
- Data mining: For the purposes of our discussion here, permit me to first of all explain Data as the amount of information, i.e. accurate names, telephone numbers, dobs, residential addresses, account number, account balance etc. available to an institution that accumulates it for the purpose of re-use consented by the data provider. However, Data Mining is one’s ability to analyze the data available to you and be able to use the analytics to tell a great story that will make an impact.
For example. If a bank analyst is able to analyze some available data in a manner that, management can easily advance a particular product or service to a segment of customer; he or she has been able to tell an impactful of a story through Data Mining.
Dr. Hakeem Tahiru (Dr. Tilapia): Mr. Awusi, you are indeed a 21st Century Banker. Your definitions come with surgical precision.
Awusi Zakariah: Thank you my brother.
Dr. Hakeem Tahiru (Dr. Tilapia): Mobile money transfer system has proven to be effectively assimilated by Ghanaians of all ages and literacy backgrounds. Does this success proffer sufficient grounds to anticipate that Ghana’s quest to transfer her economy to digital would be a smooth and unhindered success?
Awusi Zakariah: Mobile Money came through as a sharp knife, because, traditional banks have been too mundane and bluff; with a lot of requirements to open an account. But are they the cause? Obviously NO!
The regulatory regimes, continuously do not favour banks, hence the need to tighten regulatory belts. Even in the digitally advanced countries such as US, UK, and the European Union are still struggling to design the proper regulations for the MoMo industry. Unfortunately, my country Ghana; is still waiting to do the usual “copy copy”. This is why, the MoMo industry is quickly expanding and free to operate. The great thing is that, the banks will have to collaborate or collapse, because the customers seem to be enjoying both.
Dr. Hakeem Tahiru (Dr. Tilapia): Indeed, it is a very murky and fluid area of Techfin to regulate without compromising the flexibility and simplicity it brings to ordinary people with sophisticated ICT skills to cope with the Fintech and digital banking systems.
Awusi Zakariah: Dr. Hakeem, Ghana is still hanging on to apps while working with experts to get proper regulations and if we don’t take time it will come to hunt us like these Micro finance institutions and Gold companies. So, in effect, I will say it is like we are promoting apps without even knowing the law regulating the apps.
Dr. Hakeem Tahiru (Dr. Tilapia): Given the state of IT literacy, cybercrime, internet penetration, and graduate unemployment in the country, do you think Ghana is prepared for a digitalized banking, financial and health system or a digitalized economy?
Awusi Zakariah: Industries will implement Fintech based on their risk appetite. And as I indicated earlier, today we have iris, fingers, facial recognition bank customers, you will not want to equate them to my brothers and uncles. Their interest is on SMS.On security, I can assume that, Fintech are working in secured environments. If your phone is having kriss cross passwords against your whatsapp messages why not your finances?
Dr. Hakeem Tahiru (Dr. Tilapia): How will Ghana’s migration from conventional modes of banking financial services to digital banking and Fintech affect beggars on the streets; the fight against money laundry, bribery and financial corruption; arm robbery; payment of tithes in the church and zakat/Sadaqat in the mosque; and buying and selling in our local markets?
Awusi Zakariah: Thanks for the question. In fact, kindly let your bank(s) provide you with emergency wallets against robbery. For us as beggars, we will give our mobile number by writing them on papers for you. And for bribes, unless you don’t want to practice it, you send me MoMo for fuel before visiting me in my office. After all, during barter trade, more female humans were use as bribe. That’s why president Kuffour said “corruption started from Adam.”
Dr. Hakeem Tahiru (Dr. Tilapia): Apparently, people are always capable of adapting to every situation. But Sir, what implications would the adoption of digital banking and financial technologies pose for customers of banks and financial institutions who are not technologically savvy? Is there a risk of exclusion?
Awusi Zakariah: Not too much that I know of. It is however a fact that, it involves a combination of less human services with more tech services. That segment will still be served until their generation fades out. But trust me; COVID-19 is a game changer in digitization.
Dr. Hakeem Tahiru (Dr. Tilapia): Impressive! Hypothetically, what impact would a successful migration to digital banking and financial service system in Ghana have on the growth of Small-Scale Businesses as well as micro-financial institutions?
Awusi Zakariah: The good thing about Fintech is that, it comes with accessories that are beneficial to users. SME will enjoy a free payroll processor, reduced transactions charges, eliminate completely delays, Supplier/Debtor manager page, MoMo merchandise page, fantastic straight through processes (STP). I would advise that if an SME wants to reduce operational costs, quickly adopt Fintech in your banks.
Dr. Hakeem Tahiru (Dr. Tilapia): To what extent would the digitalization of health service delivery improve access to health services and quality of healthcare provision in Ghana?
Awusi Zakariah: I love this question. Take it that, you have a “Digi Doctor” (Robot).You log on to the health App. Tell “Digi Doctor” of your headache, consultation on the possible causes of your headache, you have a malaria detector on the App, diagnosis are done, a pharmacist picks your information on the App and do home service of your medications, that will definitely be a great service. This is happening somewhere and needs to get here fast. It saves ambulance service cost, medical facilities provisions costs, convenience and timely etc.
Dr. Hakeem Tahiru (Dr. Tilapia): Incredible and very impressive! But do you think digitalization of banking, financial and health services will result in the automatic exclusion of a significant majority of middle to old age citizens who are not IT-literates and more accustomed to manual/conventional modes of transactions for these crucial service areas? For instance, how aged folks feel and manage with a situation where they put a phone call to their bank or hospital to rectify a problem and expecting an experienced and diligent staff to answer but only to realize they are speaking to a robot, which cannot respond to their greetings in Twi or Sissali, is giving them leading instructions with a strange accent?
Awusi Zakariah: I was reading a book written by Satya Nadella the CEO of Microsoft. In fact, my group CEO Bill Winters sent me the book and I must confess that I’m most grateful!
Satya says in his book that: Man should not be fighting what they developed. Robots are to provide convenience to man, but they don’t have a heart to be empathic, creative and loving. Those ones are for humans and I must add that technology should not be adopted in such way that will drift you from your culture, your core values and what makes you human. Every institution will adjust to meet their segmental demands.
Dr. Hakeem Tahiru (Dr. Tilapia): very profound! Thought provoking!
Awusi Zakariah: If you are a young man who carries your physically disabled old man or mum to the bank, and you understand the bank’s App, what prevents you from teaching him/her how to move funds from his account to MoMo wallet and call a nearby MoMo operator to bring him the money instead of the inconvenience of carrying him to the bank for a withdrawal of say Gh₵100.00? Digitization is good for the elderly. Let’s us not deny them the opportunity to enjoy its convenience because of our own assumption that they can’t operate it. Some can. Obviously, things are not for everyone.
Dr. Hakeem Tahiru (Dr. Tilapia): How would data mining enhance digital banking, Fintech and digital health technologies/systems to function more efficiently?
Awusi Zakariah: Accuracy, efficiency, directness and timely and no misapplication, no misuse of data because the individual is holding the data.
Dr. Hakeem Tahiru (Dr. Tilapia): How would an organization which deploys digital banking, digital health and Fintech systems for providing services to the public ensure that the personal information of employees and clients is adequately protected from cyber-attacks?
Awusi Zakariah: In other jurisdictions, client data and its confidentiality is a big issue. Some institutions are fined billions of dollars for client data leakage. One of the accessories of digitization is cyber fraud. These are extremely intelligent people who understand systems better but are smartly looking for the easy way out of making success.
Each and every institution develops their level of protections and will normally educate customers on that. However, in situations where after employing all those protections guides without negligence you lose everything to technology, the organization will not indemnify you.
In digitization, one size does not fit all. It is about Capital, capacity and capability (3C). It is going to be more in out models. Laggards will be urged out and fast smart adopters to changing needs of industry and the social market will stay. Organizations must quickly employ digital and social marketing managers without delay. They will be responsible to study the social market and constantly adjust to the digital needs of the social market.
QUESTIONS TME WITH OUR READERS FROM (THE READERS HUB)
Andy Sarpong: Digital banking, the challenge of our level of education and technology and the problem of fraud. How can we promote e-banking in the wake of these challenges?
Awusi Zakariah: Industries will implement Fintech based on their risk appetite. And as I indicated earlier, today we have iris, fingers and or facial recognition bank customers, you will not want to equate them to those when we sole rely on SMS.On security. I can assume that; Fintech is working in secured environments. If we could secure our phones with kriss cross passwords against our whatsapp messages why not do same to our bank accounts?
Mr. Richard Ayariga: Where do we categorize crytocurrency, block-chain and crowd funding and how do these also look in the future?
Awusi Zakariah: Crypto is an imitated currency that is for now being used as an investment tool. But its adoption is very luckily to urge out paper money, bonds, stocks and shares. So crypto currency is fighting a digital war against the traditional investment instruments. The unknown secret about Crypto is to capture the minds of digital babies, the generation Zs, who want everything in its immediacy on their fingertips.
Going forward, Block chain is a secured platform on which crypto operates. Block chains give the Crypto operator who is manipulating the interlocking of the blocks that assurance that one is operating in a safe environment. The investor sets the code to break the chains or lock them, hence the name, Block chains.
In a related development, Crowd funding is a baby of social network and digital marketing. The principle is to simply mobilize the community to contribute to the funding of the project without resorting to traditional borrowing. For instance, Readers Hub-Gh, which is a social grouping may decide to come together to fund the building of a commercial KVIPs countrywide. Hand them out for operations and proceeds used to pay back Hub Members may be with a profit. Crowd Funding can be good for off shoot social projects.
Dr. Hakeem Tahiru (Dr. Tilapia): Mr. Awusi, we will be glad to have your final comments for tonight’s session
Awusi Zakariah: Thank you readers for this great opportunity to share my ideas with you. Please, let me re-echo that, Facebook alone is a big trade hub. You can do FM, TV, mentoring, public speaking, sales, trade, banking and insurance. In fact, so many things, digital is the new goldmine. Please, let us align to properly mine it. Enjoy your sleeps and have a great weekend. Beware, COVID19 is a digital disease, it is real. Thank you!
Dr. Hakeem Tahiru (Dr. Tilapia): We have heard from our resourceful and technologically endowed banker par excellence, Mr. Awusi Zakaria. Indeed, he has proven to epitomize an epic 21st Century Banker. I have found this discussion to be very intellectually sound and educative and we hope Readers found the discussion same too.
A big thank to you, Mr. Awusi Zakaria, for the meticulous, measured and brilliant responses to our questions. May God, Almighty Allah, bless you with more knowledge and the passion to continue to share such valuable knowledge for the collective good of the society. We are grateful, sir!……….. (Exeunt)
Until we meet same time next week, have a wonderful weekend
! THE END!
NB: Please don’t forget to share after reading for others to also benefit.
Hub Editor: Bassing. A.M.A. Kamal.