Ecobank: creating opportunities for African FinTechs to enhance customer satisfaction

By Dele Ojo

Growth is necessary for organizations and economies to survive and thrive, and the future of growth must be both sustainable and inclusive. While getting there will be challenging, it is possible. How can these ambitions be met? Finding solutions will require innovation and collaboration, within and across organizations – accelerating the ability to grow through advances in technology and capabilities, spurring innovation without damaging the planet, and bringing people along in equitable, inclusive ways.

And in towing this pathway, Ecobank Transnational introduced The Ecobank Fintech Challenge to identify and partner Fintechs that are ready to scale and provides them with support and access to opportunities in Ecobank’s 33 African markets. The goal is to contribute to their growth as potential Pan African Fintech success stories.

The Fintech Challenge is in line with the Bank’s commitment to championing digitization by giving innovative African start-ups the opportunity to promote their fintech solutions. The start-ups can potentially partner with Ecobank to scale their solutions across Ecobank’s 33 African markets as well as its international operations in France.

According to Mr. Ade Ayeyemi, Chief Executive Officer, Ecobank Group, “The global impact of COVID-19 has accelerated the dire necessity to digitize and transform banking operations. As a banking group, we are convinced now more than ever that innovation and technology are the future of banking and therefore reaffirm our continuous commitment to identify and support Africa’s brightest developers to promote their solutions and help improve our services through the Ecobank Fintech Challenge”.

The Challenge resulted in Ecobank successfully launching the Ecobank Investor App, originally developed by Finance Mobile, a start-up from the 2017 Ecobank Fintech Fellows cohort. Following the successful rollout of the app in nine Ecobank markets and currently launching in additional countries, Ecobank is working on finalizing other such partnerships with Fellows from the 2020 Fintech Challenge.

Dr. TomisinFashina, Operations and Technology Executive, Ecobank Group said, “We are firm believers that Africa’s talent pool is enormous and requires specialized and targeted mentorships to fully crystallize and ready Fintech startups for business engagements. Through the Ecobank Fintech Fellowship, we are creating a learning experience through mentorship sessions with in-house, high-level technical teams and with our global partners to help shape and reshape the strategy and focus of African Fintechs”.

The Ecobank Fintech Challenge was designed in partnership with the advisory firm Konfidants and is supported by several partners across Africa and globally including ACCION, Catalyst Fund, Nedbank VC and Cellulant.

The Challenge offers opportunities for Fintechs to potentially integrate with Ecobank’s existing digital offerings. The existing digital offerings include Ecobank Omni, Ecobank electronic financial supply chain(eFSC), Ecobank Xpress, Ecobank Mobile APP or USSD, MasterPass™ QR, mVISA™ &mCash, etc. The bank expects prospective FinTech start-ups to show how their solutions can add value to these existing Ecobank digital offerings.

On the long run, the bank  is  looking for futuristic and innovative Fintech products in the following areas: Improvement of customer experience both online and at the branch, digital solutions using analytics/customer insights and AI to offer tailored adverts,  acceleration of resolution process,  Digitization of customer journey, Financial Inclusion.

“We welcome cutting-edge solutions capable of improving the lending process to SMEs:  Digital customer onboarding (Consumers, SME/Merchant, Investment Banking) Increasing our payment wallet size across our network, Credit Scoring” the bank explained.

Also it is on the lookout for  cutting-edge solutions capable of improving the lending process to SMEs:  360° view on customers and prospects’ financial activities with other financial institutions, and  digitzation of the lending journey for SMEs

In the ecosystem aggregation platform, the bank is  interested in dynamic innovations in the following areas:  SME/Merchants onboarding and payment integration, Niche merchant aggregation through tailored solutions per sector, Seamless access to Ecobank services for non-smart phone users, Facilitate mobile collections with merchants that enable synchronization and consolidation with our Xpress point system

For its internal tools, it is looking for digital solutions which improve sales force performance, Agency banking solutions that broaden the scope of services.

According to the Bank, “ We’d be happy to learn how you can help us solve problems around Offline mobile to mobile payments (Dead Zones), Increasing our payment wallet size within the African context, Any Other Relevant Product Categories, Any other solution that will revolutionize banking and payments in Africa”.

The top three winners at the Challenge will be awarded $15,000, $12,000 and $10,000 cash prizes respectively. Apart from the cash prize, the exit Service Provider Partnerships opportunity as Start-ups may be selected by Ecobank as local country-level partner in any of Ecobank’s 33 country ecosystem.

Also there is Access to Ecobank’s Pan-African Banking Sandbox, through this, Fellows will be given access to a dedicated team to support on the Ecobank’s APIs test to enable them improve their products for the pan-African market, while Founders would be inducted as Ecobank Fintech Fellows, granting them access and relationships to a vast network of global and African Accelerators and potential Investors as well as mentors.

Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (‘ETI’) is the parent company of the Ecobank Group, the leading independent pan-African banking group. The Ecobank Group employs about 14,000 people and serves over 29 million customers in the consumer, commercial and corporate banking sectors across 33 African countries. The Group has a banking licence in France and representative offices in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Johannesburg, South Africa; Beijing, China; London, the UK and Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. The Group offers a full suite of banking products, services and solutions including bank and deposit accounts, loans, cash management, advisory, trade, securities, wealth and asset management. ETI is listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchanges in Lagos, the Ghana Stock Exchange in Accra, and the Bourse Régionale des ValeursMobilières in Abidjan.

The operations of Ecobank Nigeria are supervised and regulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as well as the National Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC). Incorporated as a public limited liability company on October 7, 1986, Ecobank Nigeria is a key subsidiary of Africa’s leading independent banking group, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI).

Following the successful acquisition of Oceanic Bank International by the Ecobank group in 2011, Ecobank Nigeria has become a top tier bank in Nigeria in terms of assets, customer base, deposits and branches. The bank currently operates a consolidated on-line, real time branch network in over 600 locations across the country.

Ecobank had previously acquired the deposit liabilities and customers of the defunct All States Trust Bank Plc, Hallmark Bank Plc and African International Bank PLC (AIB).



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