Monday June 8th, 2009
Sponsored by Sun Microsystems and Computer Warehouse Group
Why West Africa Matters
Lady Olga Maitland
The packed and powerful gathering of leading banks and money transfer enterprises at the launch of MTI West Africa told its own story.
It demonstrated the strong interest in being part of a high level global trade association dedicated to the support, promotion and development of the remittances and payments sector.
The diversity was telling and the attendance was not just local. Fundamo’s Reg Swart flew in from Cape Town, David Fast of Sun Microsystems came from Johannesburg. The Western Union director for the region flew down from Morocco; Moneygram attended, both of whom are leading local providers of services.
Local attendance was lead by well-known brand name banks all of which are already providing and developing remittance services; be it UBA Bank, Bank Phb, Fidelity Bank, Access Bank, Finbank, Diamond Bank, Oceanic Bank, Standard Chartered Bank or American Trust among many others. Added to that - companies such as Chams plc, Capital Alliance, Anglephone West Africa, Royal Bank of Scotland, Pakistan attended, among others.
The reason they were all there was powerful. Globally remittances and payments are worth an estimated $1trillion a year, taking into account the recorded and informal sector.
Folashade Kunlere, Lady Olga Maitland and Christian Udecheckwu, MTI Director, West Africa
Nigeria alone receives around $9billion in recorded remittances; double that for the informal sector. Families and their very well-being are dependent on the remittances; hence the services they receive are crucial.
The means of transfer are varied. According to EFInA, ‘Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access’ the methods of money transfer are varied. In Nigeria alone, 45% of the senders use a bank. Interestingly the use of money service business such as Western Union is equal to the use of a friend or family member ie. 15%. Some estimate that the family method is much more prevalent than a money service business,
Only a minority 3% use a third party such as a courier, while electronic bank transfers are at the development stage at 2%. Rechargeable prepaid cards have still to be deployed in Nigeria.
Conversely, technology has so far leapt ahead that 45% have access to a prepaid mobile phone.
Over and above all this, is the vast cash and informal sector, making up at least 54% of transactions, and most likely much more. After all 74% of the population do not have bank accounts. And overriding all this is the reality that the informal cash transfers are equal in volume to the recorded sector - in short, a market to be accessed.
It is hardly surprising therefore that the money transfer sector from all perspectives wanted to hear our message. We were aware of the need to create a truly global trade association – taking steps which had never been done before. In reality this was a response from the industry itself.
Irunna Ejibe , Diaspora Banking, Fidelity Bank, Lady Olga Maitland and Folashade Kunlere, head of Retail Banking, Fidelity Banking.
How Money Transfer International can serve them and their interests? Our answer is emphatic. As a trade association, it is important that we demonstrate we are run by the trade and for the trade – with no partisan interests. In short, totally product neutral and above all, a member run global trade association.
Such a trade association must be selflessly dedicated to the development of the industry for the benefit of others.
Our Mission is to dedicate ourselves to promote best practice and serving both the deliverer of the service and the remittance recipient.
It is certainly time to speak up for the remittance and payments sector as an honourable institution - promoting value and total professionalism .
The way we have done this is to establish a high level and credible MTI Board of Directors with legal responsibilities to ensure quality of performance. The key is to have powerful and transparent governance, thus building the all important trust and confidence in the profession.
Hence, MTI has as Lead Adviser Marcus Treacher, head of e-commerce, Global Cash Management HSBC as the lead adviser; supported by Ken Howes, director Edgar Dunn.
The Board of Directors are:
Nick Ford, Head of Payments and Consulting, Capgemini, UK
Vanessa Murden, Executive Vice President, Global Payments, Travelex
Pieter Heyn, Director, Global Financial Services Manager, Emerging Markets, Sun Microsystems
Neil Burton, Director, Product Service Strategy, Earthport
The MTI Board take ultimate responsibility for all decision making and strategy. They are also supported as Key Strategic Adviser by Michael Lafferty, Chairman, Lafferty Group, and General Manager, Evelyn Hunter-Jordan.
In broad terms the MTI Board will grow and diversify as Corporate Members join, accepting the legal responsibilities but also enjoying the role in guiding policy and development of MTI world wide.
Alternatively members may choose a position on the Global Advisory Board which will assist and advise the Main Board and have close and regular relations with them.
Regional Corporate Members will give leadership to the Regional Directorate of MTI. They will also be advisers to the Main Board of Directors.
Finally there will be Honorary Patrons (Presidents/Vice Presidents) to support the regions. They will be high level achievers and principal leaders in the remittance and payments sector, whose guidance and insights will assist in the development of the industry.
From all this develops the global structure of MTI as promised at the Inauguration Conference. MTI West Africa is now well established under the leadership of the Director, Christian Udechekwu.
MTI Middle East is headed by Premal Patel, based in Bahrain.
Other regional directorates are in the process of being developed; namely in the Maghreb, Asia (Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore), South Africa, China, India and Eastern and Central Europe. Further down the road for 2010 will be Mexico and then Latin America.
Our Agenda is of the highest level. It is to promote best practice, monitor trends, develop an accreditation scheme, embrace the informal sector, promote financial inclusion, develop good anti-money laundering practice (and by this work closely with the regulatory authorities) and above all, lobby the interests of all players.
To serve the industry, we have created on on-line newswire giving up to date information on the sector worldwide, a quarterly News Bulletin providing solid background data and interviews with leading practitioners, publishing research papers and setting up seminars to study them eg. MTI is publishing a paper on Mobile Payments on June 30th supported by a half day conference. Such research is vital for the strength of the profession. There will be an Annual Global Summit with this year’s taking place in London on 10th and 11th November.
Money Transfer International works because of the credibility of the people who have made it possible. A strong and professional Board and Advisers have been key to ensure that the remittance and payments sector has the respect and support that it deserves. In the end, MTI has been given the trust to serve. We will do our utmost to honour that.
CHRISTIAN UDECHEKWU - MTI DIRECTOR - WEST AFRICA
Christian Chukwudozie Udechukwu is a Humanities graduate of the University of Nigeria with postgraduate degree from the Institute of Advanced International Studies, University of Leeds where he was a Guinness Scholar; and an MBA from the Middlesex University Business School, London and Corporate Finance from the London Business School (LBS), London. He is a Chief Executive Officer, BusinessinNigeria Events Ltd (BINEL) BusinessinAfrica Events UK Ltd (BIAE) that are leading corporate communications companies. His clients include the Central Bank of Nigeria, Travelex, United Bank for Africa Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, Oceanic Bank Plc, Finbank Plc, Union Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, First Bank Plc, Nigerian Insurance Commission (NAICOM), Virgin Nigeria Airways, to mention but a few.
Christian Chukwudozie Udechukwu is also a Director of Proshare Nigeria Limited and Director of the West Africa Business Association (WABA), an organisation for over 161 United Kingdom multinational companies doing business in 22 West African countries. He also serves as Executive Vice Chairman, Imperial Leadership Academy, a risk management and financial services training company. Furthermore, he is a consultant and global media commentator on African Affairs for the BBC, African Business, African Banker, FT Banker, Euromoney and more. Christian has had previous professional work experience with blue chip organisations namely Guinness Brewing Worldwide, London; Office of Fair Trading, London; and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, Paris. MTI West Africa.