A recent analysis of 10 banks’ software procurement between 2016 and 2018 showed their investments on software rose from N77.35 billion reported at the end of December 31, 2016 to N120 billion by December 31, 2018; representing an increase of 35.5 percent.
The 10 banks surveyed, according to an InvestorsKing publication in August 2019, were First City Monument Bank Limited, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Sterling Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc and First Bank of Nigeria Plc.
A breakdown of the banks’ annual reports showed that First Bank’s investment in software grew by 35.9 percent in the last two years to N29.36 billion, up from N18.82 billion recorded at the end of 2016 financial year.
These are going on despite the fact that some Nigerian software solutions have been embraced even beyond the shores of the country. They are exported to several African and Europeans countries.
To make matter worse, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has failed to list any local software solution among over 1,500 products and solutions it is promoting outside the country, as revealed by the former President, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), Dr. Yele Okerermi.
Now, the banks are facing looming Cyber War or ‘Virtual War’ as stated by the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Iyiola Ayoola.
Ayoola warned that the banks risk losing investment to government policies of the respective countries where they acquire such foreign software.
He added that more companies are tightening the loose on their privacy policies hence data has become the new currency to trade in the digital era.
In his words “All (Nigerian) banks are going to have issues in the nearest future because of the imported software they have deployed”.
“They will get to a state of confusion and likely to lose investments if they fail to begin to adopt indigenous software.
“So, they need to have a rethink and embrace indigenous software; the earlier the better for us as country. Because the issues are numerous and it starts with data privacy and security. That is how we are going to be free. Our digital economy will not have a base without local content”.
Ayoola also stated that the Central Bank of Nigeria has the responsibility to make develop policies that will compel the banks and other financial institutions to patronise local software companies.
He said, “The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) must issue the directive now and pursue it to the later. We wouldn’t want to rise one morning to hear that Bank ‘A’ or Bank ‘B’ has collapsed because the developers of a banking software they use in operations have taken over the database hence they can’t access their system. Yes, there is a legal angle to pursue it, because can you calculate the loss customers will encounter; the impact on the country and economy at large. We need to nib this in the bud”.