The backbone of any national economy is dependent on financial services. The world, the people relies on trade. There is no way you would have two people, sector or institution without any form of transaction between them. What lubricate any form of transaction or trade is the financial services, said Adebola Adetunji.
Adebola Adetunji is the CEO of Africa-waxed mobile, CEO Mvoula Group Limited, the Non-Executive Director at Central Bank of Nigeria, and a Chartered accountant who is much more interested in Fintech.
This article is solely based on the interview organized by coinnewsextra with Adebola Adetunji.
WHAT ARE THE ROLES THE FINANCIAL SECTOR IS PLAYING IN SOCIETY?
The Financial sector has become sophisticated over the years from trade by barter to now we are talking about Central Bank digital currency today and into the future. Who knows what is going to be in the future? From trading by barter, looking for goods to trade to now that you just do transactions on your phone or any form of equipment.
Going back to financial services, what makes the world “go round” is financial services in any form or the other. When you have an optimum financial services sector, you find out your economy becomes more efficient and optimized and you can reap more benefit from the activities of the citizens of any nation or globally.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES FACING THE FINANCIAL SECTOR?
Certainly, the sector can be better optimize wherever you go because you would have a different kind of challenges depending on which part of the world or which sector you are looking at
Focusing a little bit more on Africa and the rest of the developing world, the financial services can be generally divided into two areas; the services provider and the services receiver.
Taking it from the service receiver, there is a massive number of people that are excluded from financial services. Why are they excluded?
Some of the challenges facing the financial sector include access to infrastructure. Some people can’t even have as minimal as the road to be able to get to a bank branch.
There is also the cost of the transaction, level of literacy (some people are not literate enough to be able to consider interacting with banks or banks representatives).
Numeracy is also a challenge. People understanding of numbers also drives the level of exclusion that you see in a certain part of the world.
Adebola in response said that these challenges are not only present in the developing world. He said, “even in the developed world, we still have a certain percentage of excluded individuals from the financial services for similar reasons aside from personal choice and religious reasons why they won’t get in the financial services.”
As in the service receiver, what are the challenges in the provider sector?
One of the challenges is the cost to serve because you can’t open a bank in a rural area for example and transport cash to and fro when you know that you are going to have very few people to use your serves.
There is also the cost of printing money and setting up the infrastructure to be able to serve those people that needs financial services.
There is also a lack of innovation and the legacy aspect of old financial services practices. Adebola said, “Banks are used to having brick and mortar”. You don’t necessarily need brick and mortal for you to conduct financial services this day. A few years back for example you need to have a branch, now we are talking about you doing a transaction on your phone thou, there is a certain area where that legacy still applies. People won’t use some services except they see brick and mortar.
HOW DO YOU THINK BLOCKCHAIN AND OTHER EMERGING TECHNOLOGY CAN PLAY A ROLE IN SOLVING SOME OF THIS CHALLENGES?
As earlier stated by Adebola, Financial services and financial transactions have evolved over years to now some forms of digital and electronic payment which is making payment and transactions off your computer or off your mobile device.
Now, we are about to see another leap beyond just digital to what we call the cryptocurrencies and digital currency where we are moving to. It is already happening and you can see the likes of libra, bitcoin, ethereum and countries that are already either launched, about to launch or experimenting with digital currency and that are creating their own fiat digital currency. We have countries like Canada, Sweden, china, south Africa that are already looking at that.
Going to the advantages of this digital currency is that they will speed up the velocity of the transaction at a very low cost.
According to Adebola, if the central bank doesn’t start looking at CBDC strongly and create their own fiat currency to digital currency, what is going to happen is that we are going to have private digital currency for the transaction and it would be out of the control and regulation of central bank.
WHAT IS AFRICA-WAXED MOBILE AND HOW IS IT BRINGING SOLUTION TO THE WORLD?
With digital currency, the challenges can be surpassed by using digital currency and that is what Africa-waxed mobile is focused on.
Adebola said: “We are focused in a way that we bring an intercession between the challenges that individuals face with the challenges that are faced by service providers so that we can solve.”
Africa-waxed mobile has tagged itself call the last mile solution provider to ensure that they speed up financial inclusion and the speed of the transaction.
One of Africa-waxed mobile lead device or lead product which is called the Raven.
The Raven was created from scratch using the environment in Africa and has been launched in South Africa and in Nigeria.
The Raven is a device and a platform that runs on token technology and what it does is that you can make a payment or transaction with your fingerprint which takes away the challenges of illiteracy and numeracy.
So a person that use to make a payment but can’t read or is scared of using a card either because they forget the pin or they lose the card, can use their biometrics for a transaction with Raven.
Raven is affordable and it is instantaneous. You get a GPS stamp on every transaction that is made so you can tell where there is no address, the transaction can be recorded because there is a backend for that.
When compared with a mobile phone, it is cheaper, portable and scalable and unlike mobile phones that stores a transaction on its memory, Raven spreads transaction in the cloud for verification.
Raven is evolving and is presently on version 4. Raven v4 includes things like NFC, Camera, Barcode Reader, a Hotspot and a slightly higher price than the version 3 – the mainstream version.
Adebola, in conclusion, said that Raven is just an example of how a tokenized environment can be used for inexpensive introduction and inclusion of people across the world and that is why it is called the last mile. “we would take your transaction from the sophistication of a mobile phone tokenize environment and transport it to where the people are not included financially. That is what drives us – affordability, accessibility and acceptability.