Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Sterling Bank Plc, Mr. Abubakar Suleiman, has urged operators and regulatory authorities to collaborate in a bid to effectively harness opportunities for growth post COVID-19.
He made the call recently as a lead discussant at the inaugural edition of Fintech1000+ webinar series themed, “The Impact of COVID-19 on the Economy, Banks and Fintechs,” hosted by The Guardian newspaper.”
He contended that it might be difficult to fully harness the huge opportunities that the pandemic has thrown up if there is no synergy between policy formulation and execution.
Suleiman explained that long-term intervention in the economy should be implemented through the market system, adding that there is need to loosen up by easing regulations. He advised banks to offer some form of underwriting to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) as they are likely to become the engine of growth for the economy post COVID-19.
The bank chief also sued for collaboration between banks and Fintechs, adding that when people trust one another, there will be collaboration because it takes knowledge and understanding to build trust.
“Let the banks realise that they need the Fintechs and let the Fintechs also realize they need the banks to scale. There are historical cases of collaboration between banks and Fintechs before now. There has to be a conversation to understand each other, a meeting of equals,” Suleiman said.
He said the introduction of the BVN into the banking industry was part of what is required to extract value but there is a need to integrate it with credit bureau. According to him, there is also a need to demonstrate the economic value of BVN to Nigerians based on his bank’s experience with Specta, its online digital lending platform which gave more than N45 billion loans to individuals and small business owners in 2019.
Suleiman noted that the pandemic has thrown up several challenges which were inherent in the economy, saying that some of the issues are the poor health care system, foreign exchange (forex) fluctuations as well as volatility in the international oil market and banking sector which were aggravated by the COVID-19.