Financial institutions need tech to innovate, boost services

Mr Jide Adamolekun is the Chief Finance Officer, Autocheck Africa, a major customer of Sterling Bank Plc. He started his career in banking, industry. He worked in operations before he moved on to the telecoms industry. He fell in love with startups and joined the e-commerce platform, Konga.  He held various roles there across finance, operations, and performance management. In this interview, Adamolekun speaks on how tech has driven service industries like the banking industry, innovations, products development, cybercrime among other issues.


How do you see technology driving banking services in this century?

Technology is already driving change in the banking industry. We live in a fast-paced world and customers’ expectations have shifted drastically. New opportunities and competitors are entering the market at a rapid rate, but many consumers still bank with traditional financial institutions, who are now also adopting technology. Due to the level of trust involved, financial institutions have a unique opportunity to use technology to innovate, evolve and continue to push the boundaries for greater services.

With billion users, the internet has become one of the greatest tech developments. While widely accepted for its ease and efficiency, it is also embedded with a multitude of vulnerabilities, which pose significant security threats to users and has led to the emergence of cybercrime.

Cybercrime, which includes any crime committed with the aid of a computer and network (e.g. phishing, bank verification number scams, fraudulent emails, hacking, cyber harassment, spamming, ATM spoofing, social media hi-jacking etcetera), exploits vulnerabilities of both electronic devices and their users. In Nigeria, a number of key factors – such as a high rate of unemployment, the quest for wealth, a lack of strong cybercrime laws, and incompetent security on personal devices amongst others – have coalesced to make cybercrime a significant problem for the country.

What do you think that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN or other government agencies can do to minimise or eliminate cybercrime in the country?

How do you see Sterling Bank’s ‘PaywithSpecta’ product?

PaywithSpecta made a difference in terms of offering our customers easily accessible credit options. We have a set of customers who are in need of a vehicle but do not have purchasing power. Through PaywithSpecta, they are able to buy these vehicles without any cash hassles and as a result, are enhancing their experience.

At Autochek, we are very bullish about building strategic partnerships with financial providers in the ecosystem. Our focus is to increase financing penetration across the continent; it was, therefore, important for us to reach out to PaywithSpecta and see how we could integrate them on our platform and help more customers get access to financing. It makes so much sense for us to keep leveraging on existing solutions.

What products and services are you offering to PaywithSpecta customers?

PaywithSpecta is an additional checkout option for customers on Autochek. If a customer has been pre-qualified by Specta, it means they already have an existing Sterling Bank account and can get a quick loan extension without a lot of documentation or collateral.

Can you share the story of Autocheck, a digital automotive platform for trading, financing and servicing cars?

Autochek was founded by our CEO, Etop Ikpe, who has been a leader in the automotive tech industry for many years and is someone who is always looking to create more employment opportunities and wealth for participants. For us at Autochek, we are focused on developing tech solutions that will help dealerships, auto workshops and financial institutions to serve their consumers better, thus enabling an enjoyable experience at every single touch point of their auto experience.

Can you expatiate on your product offerings?

We have combined tech and data to enhance consumers and dealers automotive needs by creating a single online marketplace for all automotive needs including auto trading, auto finance, repair and maintenance, and insurance. For customers, this means if they cannot afford to purchase their vehicle out rightly with cash, they could apply for a loan via our financing partners and get an offer within hours. Additionally, all vehicles on our platform go through a 150-point check inspection before being listed to guide potential buyers on the exact state of the vehicle.

Automotive dealers, on the other hand, have access to real-time car auctions, fleet management and standardized reports on car conditions and market value, as well as inventory management, CRM for lead management and garage management systems for car workshops.

Leveraging our industry relations and partnerships, we essentially act as a bridge between potential buyers and dealers, by removing many of the common bottlenecks in the tech industry and simplifying the process for both parties.

How is the solution impacting your business?

The solution is increasing our channels of distribution by giving customers an alternative way of accessing our products. Additionally, it has its own share of the volume of transactions it is bringing to our network.

Will you recommend it to other merchants?

Most definitely. The biggest tech challenge is that people are not aware of the options available to them; they don’t know that if they have a Sterling Bank account, they can actually have access to pre-qualified credit. If people are made aware, they can use it more often and make payments over time. I would recommend it to other merchants but I also think it’s important that we collectively improve product knowledge amongst customer support.

How are you creating awareness about it for your other customers?

We have a very solid marketing team that support our offline and online marketing activities. We have created some co-branded materials with PaywithSpecta, sponsored social media communications as well as distributed informative newsletters that highlight PaywithSpecta’s solutions.

As the CFO, what are the new process and approach that your company adopted to survive the challenging business environment during the Covid-19 period?

Coincidentally, our business started a year ago during the Covid-19 outbreak; we were built from scratch to thrive during the pandemic and after. However, with a combined total of 100+ years of frontline experience, our team has always known that tech would be the key changer in our industry – and the pandemic proved this. Not only was our business model built to survive a pandemic, but we were also built to help our partners and entire ecosystem (from Banks, Auto Dealers, Workshops and Individuals) continue to trade cars during the pandemic.


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