Efficient Digital Transformation Can Safeguard Against Risks and Support Compliance, a Topic Critical in West Africa

WEST AFRICA, NigeriaIt is intimidating to think about the amount of data available about a person at any given time. Information from spending habits, credit rating to the car you drive; this is but a small part of what is commonly referred to as ‘Big Data’. And when considered from the viewpoint of the consumer or private individual, the outlook is in fact quite overwhelming. For the banking and insurance industries however, the outlook is quite interesting.

The financial services industry relies on, and generates, a great deal of data. In what SAP defines as the Digital Economy, the objective is to convert this data into meaningful information that can drive intelligent business decision making. According to the Deloitte 2015 Compliance Trends Survey, 59 percent of respondents stated that they are only somewhat confident, or not confident at all, that the IT systems the compliance department uses can fulfill the chief compliance officer’s reporting and responsibilities tasks.

Kudzai Danha, Managing Director SAP West Africa, said: “In the financial services industry, regularly updated, reliable, accurate and relevant information is a fundamental element should the institution wish to retain its ‘going concern’ status. When operating in a country as vast and populous as Nigeria, with 173 million people spread across 36 states, accurate data and the subsequent insights gained are critical to the delivery of successful financial services. Regrettably, many banks and insurance companies simply lack the expertise and skills required to fully utilise this information asset, and don’t have efficient IT systems in place to capitalise on Big Data. Nigeria is a breeding ground for innovation, and the Digital Economy offers incredible opportunities to Nigerian companies – large and small – to leapfrog the competition with innovation by equipping them with simple and relevant data, which can drive digital transformation through informed business decision making.”

A recent Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) survey of 208 risk management and compliance executives at retail, commercial and investment banks in 55 countries on six continents found that, although there are a larger number of bankers utilising both the analysis and the sharing of big data, there remains a dire need for faster adoption of technology within the sector.

The use of big data and the associated analytics allows banks access to updated and relevant information in real time. Analysing risk data in can take hours instead of months; analysing customer behaviour can take minutes instead of hours; and pricing calculations can be performed in minutes instead of days. For example, upon application, the applicant may hold a job and own other assets which act as collateral. Is this still the case five years down the line? Is the applicant still in a financial position to repay the loan and if not, why? The risk to the financial institution, as well as its client base, is the potential loss of liquidity through non-payment and credit loan defaults. Financial institutions that embrace the digital transformation in the Digital Economy can ensure that all data is updated on a regular, ongoing basis.

“SAP Africa, through over 40 years in the industry, has identified the key areas where technology is able to make risk and compliance less of a burden by introducing various platforms and systems which are specifically designed for the financial services industry, including Simple Finance and S4/HANA which allows for accurate, real-time and relevant information for decision makers. In addition, our partnerships with local companies and our youth training initiatives are playing a key support role in the economic growth of Nigeria and Africa as a whole,” says Danha.

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