Ogechi Chinwe Altraide was recently appointed the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Hope PSBank. Before her appointment, she had garnered 25 years of banking experience working in Ecobank, Diamond Bank and United Bank for Africa where she was a Deputy General Manager.
In this interview with Nairametrics, she speaks on how the digital bank is complementing the Central Bank of Nigeria’s naira redesign policy.
Enjoy the conversation.
NAIRAMETRICS: What’s the difference between being financially included and being digitally included?
Ogechi Chinwe Altraide: Once you have an account opened, you’re included in the financial system, but you may not know how to transact digitally. So allowing you to open an account on your phone and use that to do your day-to-day transaction includes you digitally.
If you listen to the CBN, you hear about the cashless policy and all that, there are lots of disadvantages that go with carrying cash. Even the cost of printing and processing cash is very high. Look at how many people are queuing up trying to get money. But if every one of us is included financially and digitally, you don’t need cash for anything.
If everybody understands how to do that transaction, then we would have succeeded in reducing cash or even eliminating cash from our system. If you go to the advanced countries, you will see that they don’t need to carry around cash and you know there are a lot of disadvantages, security-wise. There are far-flung locations where it’s not safe to carry cash to those places.
Our goal, through the Hope Community Inclusion Initiative, is to ensure that Nigerians are not just financially included but also digitally included.
NAIRAMETRICS: How is your initiative in line with CBN’s drive for a cashless policy?
Ogechi Chinwe Altraide: For Hope PSB, we provide solutions. We’ve seen that there’s a challenge because cash is being withdrawn. So what we have done is to bring a solution that will alleviate the problems that will make it easy for people.
With Hope, you don’t need to go and queue in a bank to pay back your old Naira notes as there are agents everywhere, not just hope agents, but other bank agents. You can go to them if you have a wallet. All you need to do is give that cash to the agent and then he credits your wallet.
NAIRAMETRICS: With the increasing competition in the fintech and payment space, what is your strategy to succeed?
Ogechi Chinwe Altraide: Hope PSB is a digital bank? It’s not all fintech that is digital. We have expertise in payment solutions. Whereas many people may try, we are advanced in the solutions we bring to the table. And we don’t keep all our solutions to ourselves, we encourage other people to leverage their solutions and still bring banking services to all and sundry.
For us, competition is inclusion. We believe in bringing people in to allow them to participate. We are a subsidiary of a major unified processing and payment provider and this was set up by leading banks. It is a consortium of top leading banks in Nigeria. So, in terms of competition, we have all it takes.
NAIRAMETRICS: How would you describe the fintech space in recent times?
Ogechi Chinwe Altraide: The fintech Industry has thrived and most of the solutions you see today are responses to some of the economic hardships and things that have happened. for instance, COVID happened and person-to-person contact at some point was restricted, so we had to find ways of bringing service to people without having them have those physical contacts. I expect it to continue, and I expect it to make life easier for the citizens and other people that also find themselves in Nigeria.
That’s the way to go. We would see that we are fast doing away with the traditional method in the sense that if you want to pay school fees for your child, you stay in the comfort of your home and pay the school fees, you want to send money to someone and you don’t have to travel. Just stay where you are. And you do that.
NAIRAMETRICS: What are you doing to tighten security, especially regarding digital transactions?
Ogechi Chinwe Altraide: Talking about security, we have a lot of challenges regarding security issues. I must tell you that when you come up with anything good, the fraudsters are also working at it.
However, the financial industry has come together as one to fight that demon, so it’s not even only a case of one financial institution trying to solve it. The Central bank itself is involved. We work with the telcos to make sure that we put security measures and we share information. We have a data bank of all the fraudulent individuals and all that.
A lot is being done industry-wide to make sure that we beat them to their game and that we are faster than Them. We keep improving on the securities.
NAIRAMETRICS: As the CEO of Hope PSB, what are some of the things we should be expecting?
Ogechi Chinwe Altraide: I like to level with everyone. I like engagement. I like inclusion. I want us to do well and be happy about and be excited and when you are reaching out to people and you’re bringing solutions to their problems, everyone is happy.
even as a person I like to alleviate people’s problems. I’m happy to bring solutions to them and what I bring to the table is to make sure I carry all my team members to also have that same passion that I have. And in bringing solutions to people, we are seeing the impact on our economy. It’s a very positive impact.
NAIRAMETRICS: What is your thought on the new naira note? Do you think it is a course in the right direction?
Ogechi Chinwe Altraide: It’s good for us to understand where the CBN is going. And if we understand it, we will not give the new naira notes as a challenge or as a problem. Yes, they are problems that we currently experiencing. it’s difficult for you to collect money.