June 18, 2024

Digital transformation: a top-three priority for banks, says new report

2 min read

“The African Banking Digital Transformation Report” – a collaboration between pan-African publication African Banker and Backbase, creator of The Engagement Banking Platform – is a cornerstone in Africa’s financial news landscape, offering in-depth insight into the digital revolution being undertaken by the banking sector across the continent.

A growing African population – forecast to be 2.49 billion by 2050 – coupled with spectacular increases in the number of devices such as smartphones and tablets (mobile phones now account for 75% of web traffic in Africa) is the perfect recipe for an explosion in digital banking. Benefits include speed, convenience and enhanced user data, meaning banks can much more readily tailor solutions for their clients. In 2021 – the last year for which full figures are available – 55.07% of the African population owned a bank or mobile money account, compared to 23.33% in 2011.

Digital: The way forward

The 2024 edition of report revealed that 76% of banks rank digital transformation as either their top priority or among the top three, while the remaining 24% also view it as important. With almost half of the continent unable to access any form of bank account, including approximately 60% of women, this result reflects the opportunity for banks to grow their customer base through an inclusive digital offering.

AI as a game-changer

This year, cloud computing was the most cited technology being incorporated into digitisation strategies. This overtakes artificial intelligence and cybersecurity & resilience as the primary driver since the 2023 survey. The result can be explained through the growing sophistication of AI solutions, which sees it spill over into other technology areas including cybersecurity.

Interviewed for the report, Ecobank Group chief digital officer Nvalaye Kourouma said: “I really see AI as a game-changer, both internally and externally, because AI–powered tools help overcome language barriers for engaging customers in different countries. We now have the capability to build local natural languages into our AI interactions so that language and writing are no longer barriers. Speech and image can be used to communicate more effectively. AI opens the door for a different level of engagement with our customers, so it’s encouraging.”

The 2024 report draws on comprehensive survey data from more than 150 banks spanning 35 countries, providing an in-depth analysis of current digital banking trends, key innovations and digital transformation progress. This release underscores Backbase’s commitment to fostering technological advancements and driving financial inclusion in Africa.

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