In this interview, Mudiaga Umukoro (MU), Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer of Qore (Africa’s leading Banking-as-a-Service platform provider), discusses Fintech Growth, Digital Banking in Africa, and the groundbreaking initiatives driving Cloud-Native Solutions.
Q: How will you describe the growth of Fintech companies and their impact on Nigeria especially as digital transformation continues to drive growth for the ecosystem?
Fintech companies have made substantial contributions to Nigeria’s economy. Not only have they enhanced and streamlined operations in the extremely sensitive FSI sector, but they have also introduced numerous innovations that optimize the process of capital and funding for the production and exchange of goods and services within the Nigerian economy. Fintech companies deserve credit for these advancements.
Furthermore, Fintech companies have begun exporting technology to other countries. This is particularly valuable given Nigeria’s current economic challenges. It is widely acknowledged that the only real solution to the depreciation of the Naira is a trade surplus—meaning an increase in the value of forex obtained from exported products and a decrease in the value of imported products for consumption. In this regard, Fintechs play a significant role in the battle for the stabilization of the Naira and should receive more attention.
Overall, the growth of Fintech companies in Nigeria, driven by the ongoing digital transformation, has had a profound impact on the country’s economy. Their contributions to the financial sector and their potential to facilitate trade and foreign exchange stability make them an essential part of Nigeria’s growth trajectory. As digital innovations continue to evolve, it is crucial to recognize and support the growth of Fintech companies for the continued development and prosperity.
Q: What is the key objective for Qore, and how does it impact and progress the future of digital banking in Africa?
As a new era of Digital Finance unfolds, Qore aims to be at the center, shaping and defining its emergence right from the “core” (pun intended). We are re-imagining existing digital banking delivery structures & value chains by leveraging modern technology concepts like Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS), Banking-as-a-Platform (BaaP), Embedded Banking, Open Banking etc.
Q: What specific challenges does Qore seek to address in the financial industry and what are the specific solutions developed by Qore to address such challenges?
Currently, majority of financial services technology in the African continent is foreign and not localized enough for the region. Although there has been an increase in technology built on the continent in the past five years, most of it is peripheral. The core banking solutions, financial switches, automation frameworks, and other backend infrastructure rails that are crucial for African Financial Institutions are still predominantly foreign. This lack of localization often leads to regular friction and hampers innovation within the industry.
Qore aims to change this by providing tailored solutions designed specifically for African Financial Institutions. Through our innovative technologies, we address the challenges faced by these institutions and empower them to thrive in the ever-evolving financial landscape. Some of the solutions we have developed include:
1. Bankone: The only truly African Cloud-Native Core Banking Solution. This platform offers a comprehensive and scalable banking infrastructure that is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of African Financial Institutions.
2. Pryme: A fully digitized and automated Payment Card Issuance Solution. This solution streamlines and automates the process of issuing payment cards, allowing financial institutions to provide their customers with seamless and efficient card services.
3. Recova: An end-to-end lending automation system with automated collection capabilities. This solution enables financial institutions to automate and streamline their lending processes, from application to disbursement and collection, improving efficiency and reducing risks.
4. Cluster: An OFI (Other Financial Institutions) Optimized Agent Banking Solution. This solution empowers financial institutions to expand their reach and offer banking services to underserved areas through a network of agents, leveraging technology to deliver financial services efficiently and securely.
Through these solutions, we aim to bridge the gap between foreign technology and the needs of African Financial Institutions. We believe that by providing localized and innovative solutions, we can enable African Financial Institutions to overcome challenges, drive innovation, and contribute to the growth and development of the financial industry in the region.
Q: What was the journey to building the first African cloud-native Digital Core Banking and omnichannel software and how does this position Qore in the ecosystem?
Qore, originally known as Appzone, was founded in 2008. Initially, we focused on developing custom software for Commercial Banks in Nigeria, specifically ancillary Financial Services Products that integrated with Banks’ Core Banking Systems.
As our products gained popularity among commercial banks in Nigeria, we encountered a significant challenge. The Tier-2 Banks in Nigeria lacked the necessary funds to deploy and operate standard Core Banking Solutions (CBS) like their Tier-1 counterparts. This was primarily due to the high cost of foreign standard Core Banking Solutions.
Fortunately, this obstacle coincided with the rise of cloud computing and the concept of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Recognizing this opportunity, we made the strategic decision to leverage cloud computing, develop a standard Core Banking solution, and deliver it through a SaaS model.
We went even further by upgrading and making all the other ancillary solutions built for the Tier-1 Banks cloud-native, and seamlessly integrated them with the Core Banking Solution. This comprehensive suite of cloud-native banking solutions, delivered via the Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) paradigm, is now available to hundreds of financial institutions across the continent.
By pioneering the development of the first African cloud-native Digital Core Banking and omnichannel software, Qore has positioned itself as a trailblazer within the ecosystem.
Q: What are the other unique products that classify Qore as a company of many firsts?
Qore is certainly a company that has pioneered numerous groundbreaking products in its industry.
• We have developed the first and only fully African cloud-native Core Banking Software.
• We have successfully launched the first Self-Service Payment Card issuance solution in Africa.
• We have created the first Correspondent Banking Automation service.
• We have also built and managed the first and only Single-Environment Shared Core Banking and Digital Channels solution.
Q: Customer Experience and Satisfaction: What steps are taken to ensure a seamless and satisfactory customer experience as a BaaS Platform?
We prioritize customer input in our product development process. We believe that the customer should have a direct influence on the features and functionalities we offer. One of our initial policies that contributed to the widespread adoption of our cloud-native Core Banking Solution was our commitment to “Building every new feature for free, which serves the entire community of clientele.”
Q: To what extent has the regulatory system supported Qore’s mission since its establishment?
The regulatory system plays a crucial role in defining standards and licensing requirements, which are essential for the growth of any industry. These standards and licenses serve as indicators of a robust and reliable sector. At Qore, we have benefitted from the regulatory system as it helps the public in identifying trustworthy service providers and filters out competition that may not have the necessary capabilities.
Q: What strategies and technologies does your company employ to ensure that your solutions are scalable and perform optimally?
To ensure high scalability and optimal performance, our company adheres to global best practices throughout the Software Development Life Cycle, from product ideation to completion. We also employ technological automation to continuously improve these processes.
Q: In the context of your cloud-based solutions, how is cybersecurity integrated into the operational framework to safeguard sensitive data and maintain customer trust?
Cybersecurity is one of the reasons why we are pushing for cloud-native financial solutions to be delivered via SaaS models. We recognize that the inclusion of essential components in the technology stack for many Financial Institutions can be costly, leading some institutions to view them as unnecessary extras that can be postponed. However, we understand the potential dire consequences of such a mindset. Moreover, with the current brain drain in the sector and the rise of the dollar, it is crucial to prioritize cybersecurity measures.
While some banks may consider certain aspects, such as a Red Teaming expert, as overkill, we at Qore and our associated clientele understand the significance of these measures. At Qore, we prioritize maintaining uncompromised security standards. We have implemented a model that allows the sharing of these costs among all participating institutions, ensuring that no aspect of cybersecurity is left to chance. We recognize the importance of minimizing the total cost of ownership for each client while still providing top-notch security.
Q: How do you foster a culture of innovation, collaboration, and continuous improvement within the team at your company?
At our company, fostering such a culture is not optional; it is essential. As I mentioned before, we specialize in developing intricate technology that serves as the foundation for others. Thus, we prioritize recruiting the best talent on the continent and are meticulous in selecting individuals who are naturally innovative and bold to join our team.
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