Core Banking Application, or CBA, is that monstrous piece of system that powers every bank, big or small. I have been tracking what each Nigerian bank uses for a few years now. As invisible as it is for most bank customers and humans, it’s a major determinant for fintechs and those who integrate with banks in one form of the other.
A few things have happened since I last wrote about the core banking applications used in Nigerian banks in April 2011 and March 2016.
So, if you are an aspiring payment services provider or a new switch, here’s your list as of 2020. Wishing you a mighty dose of good luck.
I have updated the list to include merchant banks and the country’s Central Banking Authority (CBN).
Basis/Banks lost a site when Sterling Bank moved to Temenos T24 in November 2016. The bank was also considering Finacle from Infosys at the time.
More About The Core Banking Software
Finacle is a complete suite of banking applications from Infosys, one of the largest technology companies in India.
FLEXCUBE is from Oracle Financial Services. FLEXCUBE was initially i-Flex software but the company was bought by Oracle in 2005 during one of its famous spending sprees. A bit of history: FLEXCUBE was originally developed by Citibank and was spurned off as Citicorp Information Technologies Industries Limited, an independent company. FLEXCUBE is highly regarded globally with about 700 installations in 125 countries and has won Core Banking Solution of the Year and Application of the Year from The Banker.
Basis and Banks are from ICS Financial Services, a midsize Jordanian/UK software company with about 45 installations worldwide.
Despite the fact that the Nigerian market is dominated by 2 major software from India, the core banking software business is rich and varied worldwide. To read more about other banking systems, head over to http://www.inntron.co.th/corebank.html.
to credit and financial inclusion are closely related , and they both play an essential role
in improving the structure and quality of a country’s financial system, which
drives economic growth . According to CBN’s National Financial Inclusion
Strategy (NFIS), credit has been identified as a key product to increase the country’s
financial inclusion . CBN has set a 2020 target of the Nigerian adult
population having access to credit at 40%, which means that about 42 million
Nigerians should have access to loans. We are, however, far from this, as only
about 2% of the Nigerian adult population have been able to access loans from
banks and other financial institutions , leaving a variance of about 38%.
huge variance presents a tremendous opportunity for lenders (commercial banks,
microfinance banks, Fintechs, and other lending companies). This article
explores the potential credit gap in Nigeria that lenders can address, as well
as the extent of value which stakeholders within the lending ecosystem can
create. The article also focuses on significant challenges being faced by
lenders today and ways these challenges can be addressed to effectively meet
the country’s credit deficit and financial inclusion targets.
A quick look
at Nigeria’s Credit Conditions
arriving at an estimated credit gap for Nigeria, it would be vital to consider
the different types of credit and the various segments of borrowers. It would
also be important to explore lending trends and conditions within the country. Regarding
loan types, loans to customers are either secured or unsecured. Secured loans (e.g.,
mortgage, car loan, etc.) are connected to tangible collaterals and typically
come with lower interest rates because of the lower financial risk attached.
Unsecured loans (e.g., personal loans, payday loans, credit cards, etc.) are
not protected by any collateral, and they typically have higher interest rates
due to the financial risk involved. While unsecured, there should be legal
frameworks and policies in place to protect lenders especially in situations
where borrowers default on their loan payments.
According to CBN’s Credit
Conditions Report (Q4, 2019), the availability of secured credit to households increased
over the year and is expected to keep increasing in the next quarter. This
expected growth in the supply of secured credit is met with a corresponding
expected increase in demand for secured credit by borrowers , which is complemented by CBN’s directive
to increase loans to individuals and businesses . A growth trend is also the
case for unsecured credit, as lenders expect the availability and demand of
unsecured loans to increase in the next quarter . This expected increase in
unsecured loans to Nigerian households is complemented by a forecasted general
growth of unsecured lending in Nigeria, which is mostly driven by the
proliferation of digital lenders that are using data and technology to grow
consumer and SME financing in the country.
rate, which represents the percentage of outstanding loans written off by
lenders due to the inability or unwillingness of borrowers to pay back, or
after an extended period of missed payments, has also improved in recent times
and is expected to keep growing in the next quarter . Lenders are, however,
forecasting that loan pricing and interest rates will remain unchanged in the
coming quarter. This means that a lot of lending organizations in Nigeria have
not leveraged data and analytics to improve the risk management process, which
can create opportunities for lower interest rates. There is the opportunity for
lenders to adopt open banking, which creates an opportunity to share data using
standard Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and has the potential to
reduce delinquency and make loans cheaper and more accessible.
Trillion and counting – Estimated credit gap in Nigeria
access to credit to Nigerian individuals and businesses has been high on CBN’s agenda
in recent times, with the apex bank unfolding measures to increase lending to
consumer, mortgage, micro, and SME sectors. One of these measures is the
increase in the Loan-to-Deposit ratio from 60% to 65% , which has led banks
to give out more loans to comply with CBN’s directive. According to CBN, Nigeria’s
credit gap is about NGN 1.7 trillion [9,10]. This has been estimated as the
difference between loans currently being given out by financial institutions
and the loan amount that financial institutions will be required to give out to
maintain LDR of 65% (assuming current deposit figures). Based on 2019 figures,
Nigerian banks gave out about NGN 13.6 trillion loans , which were about NGN
1.7 trillion short of the loan amount required to maintain LDR of 65% (NGN 15.3
approach to estimating the credit gap in Nigeria might not be holistic as it
solely leverages LDR as an instrument to ascertain what the credit needs of
individuals and businesses are. The approach has a limited view of consumer credit
need, especially with how this can be mirrored to Nigeria’s working population.
Also, the approach focuses on only commercial banks as lenders. It does not
consider other lending institutions (Fintechs, microfinance banks, Credit
associations, etc.). It is, therefore, important to make other key
considerations while estimating the available credit deficit, which can be
addressed by lenders in Nigeria. This credit gap estimation will focus on only
consumer, micro and SME lending, as 95% of loans currently provided in Nigeria
have a value of above NGN 50 million , meaning most of the loans are
already being provided to large corporates.
to lending data from a large commercial bank and leading FinTech, the average
working adult in Nigeria takes a loan of about NGN 23,000, seven (7) times in a
year], which amounts to an annual figure of NGN 161,000. World Bank has estimated the
number of working adults in Nigeria to be at 62.4 million in 2019 . This means that the estimated market
size for consumer loans is about NGN 10.1 trillion. To ascertain what portion
of the market size represents a ‘credit gap’ that needs to be addressed, we can
apply the credit variance of 38%, as only 2% of the targeted 40% of the
Nigerian adult population currently have access to loans . This brings the
estimated consumer credit gap to about NGN 3.8 trillion.
Small, and Medium Enterprises generally experience greater financial obstacles
compared to large corporates. MSMEs enjoy less access to credit and other forms
of external finance and face higher transaction costs and higher risk premiums
. This is mostly because financial institutions are often reluctant to lend
money or provide financing to companies with limited or no credit history .
This has resulted in an MSME credit gap that lenders can address. According to
CBN, the existing financing gap for
MSMEs is about NGN 48 trillion, with more than 17.5 million MSMEs seeking credit and
other forms of financing .
the credit gap for consumer and MSME segments, lenders can address a credit gap
of NGN 51.8 trillion through secured and unsecured loan products that
will help to boost financial inclusion and economic growth. However, it is also
vital to note that very excessive credit growth, coupled with high inflation
and default rates, can lead to a financial crisis . Strong growth in credit
has preceded many episodes of financial instability in the past, resulting in the
materialization of systemic banking crisis . Hence, it is important to not
get carried away while implementing measures to address Nigeria’s credit gap
and drive credit growth. There should be a focus on ensuring credit growth is
not too excessive that it leads to a national financial crisis. Further studies
and statistical analysis can be carried out to measure excessive credit
provision in the economy and identify optimal interactions between Nigeria’s credit
demand and supply factors, towards ensuring credit growth is not too excessive
that it leads to financial instability.
of the estimated NGN 51.8 Trillion Credit Gap
credit gap, which is characterized by limited access to credit for individuals
and SMEs, has led to hampered growth in financial inclusion and, consequently, stunted
economic growth. Limited access to consumer credit also hinders consumer
spending and consumption . This directly impacts the ability of
consumers to meet their immediate, medium-term, and long-term financial needs.
Some of the practical issues being faced by Nigerians include limited ability
to conduct an upfront purchase of assets (cars, houses, phones, etc.) and make
upfront payments for experiences and services (travel, education, rent, etc.).
This had led to Nigerians mostly having to save to meet financial targets,
which can be very difficult.
limited access to credit has led to limited growth for MSMEs, as a lot of these
companies do not have the required financing to scale the business and invest
in appropriate resources and capabilities (people, technology, processes, etc.)
. MSMEs are vital to the development of any economy as they provide opportunities
for employment generation, the advancement of local technology capabilities, economic
diversification, development of local entrepreneurship skills, and forward
integration with large-scale industries . Hence, it is very crucial for participants of the
lending ecosystem to develop the right capabilities to improve access to credit
for individuals and MSMEs.
benefits to be derived if the credit gap is addressed include improvement in the
country’s manufacturing and agricultural industries , increased
opportunities to improve health, education and innovation, and general
improvement in the quality of living .
challenges faced by lenders and other participants of the lending ecosystem
credit reporting – One
of the key processes within lending is the management of credit risk. Nigerian lenders
currently combine customer information with credit reports from Credit Bureaus
to ascertain customers’ risk and determine creditworthiness. This is not holistic,
and it may leave out key information about a customer’s financial health, which
could be crucial to determining what the customer’s risk profile should be.
This also limits the extent to which lending organizations understand potential
borrowers, as well as keeping loan prices and interest rates high.
traditional credit scoring process does not serve MSMEs well . Often, one
single piece of unavailable information about the MSME can prevent the
assessment and consideration of the organization. Due to this limited access to
rich customer data, lending organizations mostly provide loans to individuals
and organizations that have adequate credit information history, thus leaving
out potential borrowers with ‘thin-credit-files’ (potential borrowers with
limited or no credit history).
consider a real-life scenario, a Credit Bureau API check costs between NGN 200
– NGN 500 and obtaining a transaction statement for a loan applicant from
NIBSS’ mybankstatement service costs NGN 400 for a JSON file and NGN 250 for a
pdf. If we assume a lender assesses 1,000 potential borrowers, that’s already a
cost of about NGN 500,000 on just conducting credit checks, and there is no
guarantee that all the loan applications will be approved. If the loan amounts
are small, the lender will only be able to pass on a maximum of 1% of the loan
disbursed to the borrower which would not be enough to cover the cost of
collaboration between participants of the lendingecosystem – Participants of the lending
ecosystem (commercial banks, Fintechs, microfinance banks, credit associations,
other non-bank lenders, credit bureaus, regulators, etc.) play different roles
across the lending value chain. There currently is no standard framework (such
as open banking) that drives collaboration within the ecosystem. Data currently
exist in silos, with each participant having a fragmented understanding of each
customer, as opposed to a holistic and detailed understanding, which would be
the case if participants adopt full collaboration and standardized data
– Some lending organizations in the country have invested in technology
capabilities (applications, infrastructure, network, etc.) to automate the
lending process and ensure efficiency and speed. Interactions with multiple
lending organizations in Nigeria have, however, shown that there is limited
reliance on relevant digital and emerging technologies to support the
end-to-end lending process (loan origination, credit risk management, loan
disbursement, loan performance monitoring and loan collections). Also, these
technology capabilities are not nimble enough to cater to the growing
availability and demand for secured and unsecured lending. Many financial
institutions also lack robust technology platforms that seamlessly integrate
risk modeling with reporting .
will need to invest in digital and technology capabilities (core lending
applications, predictive analytics, omnichannel experience, etc.) to remain
agile in the provision of tailored loan products and services to Nigeria’s credit
default rates – According
to the CBN’s credit conditions report, loan default rates are expected to
reduce in the coming years . However, due to limited access to customer
information across the financial ecosystem, lenders currently don’t have a full
view of customers’ financial health. Hence, it is difficult to accurately
identify and separate potential borrowers that will have difficulty in paying
back their loans from those that won’t. This has led to an automatic reduction
of the potential credit market size and has also kept loan prices high, as
lenders tend to price loans high enough to cover the risk of loan defaults.
legal infrastructure –
The legal infrastructure in place to protect lenders, borrowers and other
participants of the legal ecosystem is not adequate to drive credit growth.
There are a lot of cases where borrowers are easily cheated or have to pay very
high risk premiums to access credit. There are also cases where lenders are
exposed to financial loss when borrowers are unable or unwilling to repay
loans. In cases like this, the cost of debt recovery can be very high and most
times, lenders have to let go of these defaulted loans. An adequate legal
structure should provide the relevant protection to ensure lenders and
borrowers are not hesitant with providing and accessing credit.
to address Nigeria’s Credit Gap
credit risk management and reporting. Borrowers shouldn’t know more about their financial
situation than lenders do . Lenders should have sufficient information
about potential borrowers and have the right tools to conduct a detailed risk
assessment to understand customers’ financial health and risk profiles, even
more than the borrowers understand themselves. Lenders should integrate
alternative sources of data, leveraging concepts such as open APIs, blacklists,
etc. to improve credit reporting.
new and innovative loan products to address the needs of Nigerians. In essence, Nigerian lenders need to
be creative to develop loan products and services that are tailored to the
needs of Nigerians. Due to the availability of data, lenders can fully understand
their prospective and existing customers and develop custom offerings that will
meet their needs. An example is how Flipkart, an Indian ecommerce company,
commenced the provision of loan products to consumers and sellers on its
platform to increase consumer credit growth. Another example is Branch, a
Fintech organization, providing loan products to merchants based on their sales
history and financial projections, which are available online. Other examples
include how lenders can price loans differently for customers based on the result
of their credit assessment and risk profiling.
lending to underserved borrower segments. While addressing Nigeria’s credit gap, lenders
should also focus on underserved borrower segments, such as thin-credit-filed
customers and potential borrowers from the untapped informal sector of the
country. For these segments of customers, lenders can build risk models that
consider other forms of data (social networking data, telecommunication usage
data, sales data, etc.) in other to gain a detailed understanding of each
customer and ascertain if they’re creditworthy. Lenders can also implement
channels (mobile, online, agents, USSD) to provide accessibility and
convenience to these customers.
and Regulators should create an enabling environment and policies to drive
While the CBN has taken some measures (such as the LDR directive) to improve
access to credit, additional steps should be taken to ensure that both lenders
and borrowers are protected. Governments have also made some steps to increase
access to credit (TraderMoni, MarketMoni, FarmerMoni, National Collateral
Registry, etc.). Governments should continue to contribute to developing and
implementing policies that will create an enabling environment for credit
of lending operations –
Traditional lenders, need to undergo digital transformation to transition into
agile lenders. Lenders will have to deploy a robust technology platform with
seamlessly integrated capabilities to support risk modeling, reporting, loan
origination, loan performance management, API management, etc. Lenders will
also need to provide an omnichannel experience to individuals and MSMEs to
ensure that they have access to loans, at any time, and on any channel of their
has an estimated consumer and MSME credit gap of about NGN 51.8 trillion. This
presents a very huge opportunity for lenders, but closing the credit gap will
require significant effort from private institutions, governments, and
regulators. Lenders will need to develop key capabilities that will make them
more agile and positioned to meet the needs of customers. They will need to
implement sound business models that will adequately serve the different
segments of individual and MSME borrowers. Governments and regulators will need
to create the enabling environments that will improve access to credit, while
also contributing significantly to economic development and job creation.