On Thursday, July 21 2022, an official contract signing ceremony took place at The Sheraton Addis, with CR2’s CEO Fintan Byrne and Teferi Mekonnen, CEO of Oromia Bank. The contract signage cemented Oromia Bank’s selection of CR2’s BankWorld to advance their Digital Banking Transformation Strategy in Ethiopia.
CR2 which is a leading global channel-banking software provider delivering digital and ATM technology to financial institutions in more than 60 countries, through its twitter handled expressed, “This is another great win for CR2 as we continue to expand our presence in Ethiopia and build on our existing relationships within the market.”
Capital’s Metasebia Teshome, following the contract inking caught up with CR2’s CEO Fintan Byrne for a candid interview on the promising digital banking space of Ethiopia, and what customers ought to expect from this new partnership. Excerpts;
Capital: What does CR2 do?
Fintan Byrne: We provide digital banking and payment platforms to enable banks to execute their successful digital transformation strategies. So what that simply means is that we allow banks to utilize our technology to make sure that their customers whether they’re retail, SME or corporate, successfully transact digitally across mobile, internet, cards, and other channels that we support on our platforms.
We provide banks with Digital, Self-Service and Payments solutions to grow their business, optimize their customer service cost and deliver an enhanced customer experience. Our Digital Banking Platform enables banks to provide innovative, cost effective and end-to-end digital customer journeys across mobile, internet, self-service and payments.
Headquartered in Ireland, we are enabling over 100 banks in 60 countries seamlessly connect and engage with their customers on the most critical banking channels today and 35 on the continent of Africa alone. So we have a deep heritage in the market here. We’ve been in business in Africa for more than 20 years, and in Ethiopia for more than 10 years.
We work with some of the biggest banks like Absa, Standard Chartered Bank, Standard Bank and we’re delighted today to be announcing that we’ve signed a long term partnership with the Oromia bank to help them execute their digital transformation strategy as they try to grow and enhance their business.
Capital: How important is the agreement with Oromia bank for CR2 and the bank itself?
Fintan Byrne: It is equally very important for both CR2 and Oromia bank. For us, we see it as a long term partnership and we look forward to having successful years with the bank. Furthermore, for us, it gives us a jolt of confidence that a very successful bank like Oromia bank has chosen our platform as the platform to enable their digital transformation strategy. So it’s very important from that perspective, in giving us a lot of confidence. At a larger scale, it will also help us to expand our presence in Ethiopia. Thus it deepens our business here allowing us to continue investing and growing our team.
Capital: What benefits does this agreement give to customers of the bank?
Fintan Byrne: If you think about consumer needs, it is changing quite rapidly, in terms of not only just banking but also in other technologies as well as other industries. And we believe that our platform is the best platform to allow banks to really unlock the capabilities that they need to provide services on an Omni channel basis. So whenever the customer wants to transact, whether it’s on their mobile, internet, with a card, or whether it’s out of merchant, we provide that comprehensive solution to allow banks to allow their consumers to interact with the bank with the right service in the right channel at the right time, which is also 24/7.
So the key thing we do is providing a platform which allows banks like Oromia bank to differentiate their solution and design the journeys that they want for their consumers. This can entail designing solutions for customers and bettering bank interactions with customers at different market segments, and later use distinctive branding so as to cater for the different customers in the best way possible.
Capital: Do you think Ethiopia has an attractive market for digital banking?
Fintan Byrne: Yes, the Ethiopian market is indeed very attractive. With more than 112 million people, Ethiopia is the second-most populous nation in Africa and is home to the fastest growing economy on the continent. Ethiopia’s large population of unbanked, the government’s current digital push, and recent finance reforms are bringing new opportunities for fintech startups and financial innovation.
To bring Ethiopia into the digital era, promote innovation and improve financial inclusion, big reforms are needed. Banks are adopting new products and technology to give variety and quality of services to address their customers’ satisfaction.
Service quality and customer satisfaction have a positive relationship because customer’s satisfaction is one of the essential components of any organizations strategies, as the customer is the ultimate source of income for any industry. The quality of banking service is tested and measured here by the customer’s satisfaction.
Appreciating the technology in abundance, daily indoor and outdoor activities are carried out with the help of technology made devices and Fintech innovations. With all these collaborations in place it is positive to see Ethiopian banks on the same side for a change.
These digital developments are very essential for the overall financial sector and for creating the necessary foundations for an efficient retail payment system and broader financial inclusion within the country. Thus these steps being undertaken provide a very attractive and ripe market for digital banking.
Capital: How do you see digital banking evolving in the next 3 – 5 years?
Fintan Byrne: These new developments are expected to boost Ethiopia’s fintech sector, which industry observers and participants are confident that it will become the next fintech hub in Africa.
The future of banking is here, and as we examine, changes are expected to play out over the next few years in retail banking.
There will be high competition between technology providers in the years ahead. Cloud-based ERP, automation, and cognitive innovation will continue a pace, creating opportunities to radically simplify processes and free up people’s ways of doing things.
The current market is barely touched and has an ever growing potential. In addition, there is an additional major amendment regulation, which is the opening up of the financial sector and will continue to boost healthy innovative competition, which will bolster digital banking in the country.
When it comes to the field of Finance, we consider it our job to anticipate how organizations will evolve. And as the finance sector enters its golden age of technology, we can be able to drastically reduce the complexity and cost of technology, without sacrificing functionality. Thus I envision a progressive three to five years in the space of digital banking in the country.
Capital: Does CR2 have plans to expand its investment in Ethiopia?
Fintan Byrne: Very much so. Ethiopia is a very important market for us. We work with a lot of banks and today we are excited to add Oromia bank to that roster. We are more than interested to expand our investments through reaching out to other financial institutions since the market in Ethiopia is very attractive. To that regard we look forward to working with other financial firms on our platform.