UGANDA – Uganda Bankers Association (UBA) has been challenged to come together to drive financial inclusion as well as increase provision of financial services.
This was during the virtual Annual Bankers Conference (ABC), a signature industry event that brings together regulators, practitioners and various industry experts involved in delivering financial (banking services) from domestic, regional, national and international spheres; to discuss trending issues, drivers and dynamics that are increasingly shaping sustainability strategies in banking, finance and the overall development ecosystem.
The conference which was themed, “Bend but do not break” was aimed at finding ways in which the financial sector can thrive in the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution.
The conference was organized by UBA and sponsored by MasterCard, Raxio Data Center, FINCA, Experian, Stanbic Bank, Financial Sector Deepening Uganda, and KCB Bank.
Speaking during the conference, Joseph Lutwama, the Director in charge of programs Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) said that, there is a need for stakeholders to work with the government to create opportunities for economic empowerment.
“It is good that we have made strides in deepening financial access for those already using financial services; but for those who are still excluded, I think it is important that as stakeholders working with the government, we create opportunities for economic empowerment. Until we create those opportunities for economic empowerment, financial services and financial inclusion will continue to be a dream for many of those who are at the bottom of the pyramid,” Lutwama said.
“This will take collective efforts by not only the government and other private players but also financial institutions which still have a role to play in driving innovation and driving that economic activity that ultimately will benefit the financial services as more people are able to earn and own assets which they can insure and generate income,” he said, adding that multiplier effect only happens when they work together collectively to be able to drive financial inclusion as well as deepen financial markets.
Lutwama further advised, UBA to think of having what he termed as solid legal systems urging that this will help them to do business sustainably.
“Everything rises and falls with trust and there is no better place to build trust in the financial system than having a solid legal system; and more particularly a system which has a culture of enforcement of contracts. Financial services or any economic activity is driven by contracts whether written or unwritten; what will build trust is our ability to meet our end of the bargain of the contract. In a country where it is very difficult to get justice or where justice is always delayed, it will be difficult for people to trust and enter into contracts more so in the digital era where the person you are getting into a contract with is not seen. In the digital banks where a transaction is completed under a minute, and you don’t know whom you are transacting with, in the event that you have an issue, how are you compensated? So, in an environment where it is not clear, how you can be compensated, it will be very difficult for us to trust people and engage in financial services,” said Lutwama.
Lutwama further submitted that, “we will need to rethink the financial sector regulatory system; currently we have diverse regulators, Bank of Uganda, Capital Markets Authority, UMRA, National Payment System; there are many regulators, the financial system is becoming grey and it is very difficult to know where banking stops, where payments begin and where investment starts or retirement benefits start or stop, in such an era, it then becomes very important that we also need to break barriers between regulators and adopt systems that are more inclusive and impressive so that they become easier for some to innovate and even the regulators to ably protect the consumers.”
James Byaruhanga, the General Manager at Raxio Data Center called on financial banking institutions to embrace integration of the banking services to be able to tap into the global market.
“So you need to think about global payment platforms, for example MasterCard which will help to improve on service delivery in financial service sectors, so there is a need for integration; and integration becomes very critical because every single player can transact from one platform to another, the internet becomes a market place. So I think it’s time to think about adopting the internet as a market place,” said Byaruhanga.
Speaking at the same meeting, Mathias Katamba, the Chairperson UBA said that the banking sector has become versatile in this period of the Covid-19 pandemic adding that the sector needs to think beyond the impact of the pandemic.
“We do not only have to focus on how the sector has been affected, we should focus on what we can learn from these times and put the lessons into actions,” he advised.
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