• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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We’re focused on distribution to push agency banking to next level – Hassan Yusuf

We’re focused on distribution to push agency banking to next level – Hassan Yusuf

Hassan Yusuf, managing director of The Alternative Bank, in this interview with BusinessDay’s Frank Eleanya, speaks on the banktech approach and why distribution is key to unlocking the next level in agency banking.

The Alternative Bank was recently unveiled to the public in a one-of-a-kind multi-city launch. Moving from the launch, what is next?

Following the multi-city launch, The Alternative Bank will now shift its focus to implementing a comprehensive marketing and awareness campaign. This involves engaging with the public through various channels, emphasizing the unique features and benefits that set the bank apart in the financial landscape. Focusing on core strategic areas such as health, education, renewable energy, agriculture, and transportation for financing and investments, as well as creating different kinds of experiences for our customers including alternative ways of doing business and customer experience.

The Alternative Bank has been positioned as a Banktech, having the core characteristics of a Fintech and a conventional bank. How does this positioning set your business apart from other non-interest banks in your category?

Every Fintech wants to be a bank, and every bank wants to be a fintech. We have adopted the idea of being a banktech, meaning we are leveraging our knowledge and de-emphasizing the complexity of operations to deliver faster, better, and cheaper services, while also leveraging our balance sheet as a commercial bank to be innovative in both services to customers and deployment of capital efficiently. A combination of both ideologies is how we will serve and surpass expectations.

Read also: Nigeria lags peers in mobile money usage despite growth in agency banking

What strategies would the company employ to maintain its competitiveness in the market, and how would these distinguish you from your competitors?

To maintain competitiveness, The Alternative Bank will emphasize continuous innovation and agility. Beyond the initial strategies mentioned, the bank will foster a culture of innovation, encouraging employees to contribute ideas for improving services, adopting emerging technologies, introducing innovative financial products, swiftly adapting to changing market dynamics and sharing wealth with our customers. This proactive approach will distinguish the bank in a rapidly evolving financial landscape.

As a Banktech, one would expect that you’d be big on digital. What drives the organization’s digital transformation, and in what ways has this promoted innovation within the sector?

The only way to serve effectively and efficiently is digital. We are a customer-centric organization and are leveraging modern technologies and data to serve our customers. We are committing to solving problems before our customers and partners know they exist, and the way to do this is by being the Banktech.

Read also: How The Alternative Bank will disrupt the banking ecosystem

The influx of mobile money banks has significantly helped to reduce the percentage of Nigerians who are financially excluded. As a non-interest bank, how does this position The Alternative Bank to bring big changes to the sector, especially on the subject of financial inclusion?

We started this journey with economic inclusion in mind, meaning we want to include or help as many people as possible in the journey towards wealth creation. We have a model and have invested in distribution to enable us to take the agency banking model to the next level. Our models are focused on putting more value in the consumer’s hands than we the institution, with products like Wakeel, Alt boxes, etc.

The World Bank recently published a report projecting a slowdown in economic growth for sub-Saharan Africa, estimating a decrease from 3.6% in 2022 to 2.5% in 2023. As a business leader, what are your thoughts on how this will affect the financial sector and consequently the nation’s economy?

The projected economic slowdown in Sub-Saharan Africa may impact the financial sector and this necessitates a strategic approach. As a business leader, adapting to these challenges involves prudent financial management, optimizing operational efficiency, diversifying revenue streams through international trade, and focusing on sectors like health, education, renewable energy, agriculture, and transportation as part of the heart strategy to mitigate the potential impacts on the financial sector as well as contribute positively to the nation’s economic stability. These are core sectors that are moving the economy, and working in these sectors will mitigate the economic slowdown.

What are the 5 big things The Alternative Bank would do differently in 2024?

In 2024, The Alternative Bank aims to accelerate digital initiatives to enhance customer experience, streamline operations and embrace emerging technologies to stay ahead in the rapidly evolving financial landscape.

The second plan is to implement cost reduction measures to ensure sustainable profits in the face of geopolitical challenges and leverage the pool of experienced professionals within the bank to enhance operational efficiency.

Thirdly, we will continue promoting domestic industry and production for economic growth.

Fourth, we are exploring strategic partnerships and collaborations to expand our network and reach.

Fifth, we plan to implement sustainable and environmentally compliant practices as part of our corporate responsibility.