Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent

Suresh K L, Chief Information Officer, Fidelity Bank

By Suresh K L

Like many other countries in Africa, Ghana’s banking sector is in the midst of its most transformative phase.

The sector has expanded substantially over the last ten years, characterized by branch expansion and increased capitalization as financial institutions move to meet growing demand for consumer banking services across the country.

This is due to the continued economic growth, foreign investment, increasing diversification and a number of large investments in both the private and public sectors in Ghana and across Africa.

New technologies are helping to drive a wave of innovation across the African financial services sector as banks create new and accessible banking channels and take banking services to previously unbanked parts of society.

Banks can now reach customers in remote villages by providing them with a menu of services available on their mobile handsets. In more urban settings, customers can now enjoy new services such as mortgage financing and branchless banking as a result of the growing use of technology. This level of access to financial services was unprecedented just ten years ago.

Introducing new product lines such as mobile banking and mortgage products is pushing banks like ours to become more nimble and technology dependant in order to meet our clients needs more effectively.

Fidelity Bank in Ghana - the Head Office in Accra's Central Business District (credit: Fidelity Bank)

But with this exciting growth comes new challenges. New products and a growing customer base translate to increased pressure on banks to manage and secure their data. By the nature of their business, financial firms are required to store immense amounts of data under incredibly strict compliance with a number of regulators.
 
We are now in the era of Big Data – and we can be sure that the challenge of managing our client’s sensitive big data needs will only increase as the amount of data continues to grow at an exponential rate to reflect the growth in the sector. Industry statistics estimate that banks in our markets spend between 7-10 percent of their operating income on managing data.
 
This was one of the factors that moved Fidelity Bank, a mid-sized financial firm that has grown over the last ten years to become one of Ghana’s leading financial institutions, to invest in a comprehensive, Big Data solution.
 
Part of that solution is our new data centre, which we announce today in partnership with IBM.

Our new data centre, which is housed in the Bank’s headquarters in the Ghanaian capital of Accra, has been designed with innovative advancements in energy-efficient data center management, business continuity and resiliency, as well as security and disaster recovery services.

We could have simply deployed more servers to handle the increased demand we knew would come from the market. Instead, we invested in an end-to-end solution, housed in a state-of-the-art data centre to build a new secure home for our Big Data needs.

We are confident that this new data centre will enable us to meet the continued growth in the Ghanaian banking sector and also put us in a position to better manage our risk, both critical factors as we push forward our agenda to list on the Ghanaian Stock Exchange.

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