.. Industry experts discuss cutting-edge technological innovations
The third edition of the Zenith Bank Tech Fair, themed “Future Forward 3.0,” which was recently held at the Eko Convention Centre, Eko Hotels & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, resulted in a total of N59 million in prize money being awarded to the most successful contestants. The tech fair, which was designed to identify and celebrate the most innovative tech solutions, saw over 500 contestants compete, with the winners taking home a range of prizes from N5 million to N10 million.
Sync, a team collaboration and workflow management platform that enables synergy, project management, task planning, messaging, payments, scheduling, and people operations emerged the overall winner of the ZenithHackathon (Zecathon) with the grand prize of N20 million, as well as a mentorship programme with Seedstars, a company that provides high-quality capacity-building programs for entrepreneurs in emerging markets.
In second place was Skill Up With Kahdsole (SUWK), a social-tech startup that provides an end-to-end platform for learning technical and vocational skills to empower young people. SUWK won N15 million and a mentorship programme with Seedstars, while Tribapay, a payment processing gateway that enables cross-border payments and transactions in Nigeria and Ghana, came in third and won N10 million as well as a mentorship programme with Seedstars. All of the winners were given the opportunity to pitch their solutions to industry leaders and potential investors, giving them a chance to scale up their businesses.
Ebenezer Onyeagwu,the group managing director/CEO of Zenith Bank, in his welcome address at the Zenith Bank flagship tech fair,expressed his excitement about this year’s hackathon, calling it the highlight of the event.
“We have deliberately kept the best for the last. The high point of today’s
event is the Hackathon. This is where we have the opportunity to see the immense creativity
and talent in our youth as they come up with different innovative ideas,” he said.
Onyeagwu also noted that the pitches presented were unlike any he had seen before, and he stated that Zenith Bank intends to make the Hackathon more elaborate in the future. He hopes that in the coming years, the bank will be able to bring back past winners to share their journey and progress since winning the competition.
The two-day Tech Fair was described by participants as a huge success, with presentations on cutting-edge technological innovations in a variety of fields, including Artificial Intelligence, Contactless Payments, Cybersecurity, Cloud Computing, FinTech, Data Analytics, Financial Intelligence, and communication technologies.
The keynote address, titled “Artificial Intelligence: Application & Bias,” was delivered by Chris Lu, a renowned IT specialist, business strategist, and managing director of Huawei Technologies, Nigeria. Lu’s address covered the current state of AI technology and its potential applications in various industries.
The fair featured two panel sessions, the first of which explored “The next frontier: Digital Wallets, Contactless Payments, and BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later)”. Chris Lu, the host, was joined by five discussants: Fey Wong, country director of Palmpay; Premier Oiwoh, managing director of NIBSS; Vincent Ogbunude, managing director of Verve; Ebehijie Momoh, country manager of MasterCard, and Adelola Agbebiyi, managing director of Network International. The panelists discussed the current state and future of digital payments, highlighting the rapid expansion of digital wallets, contactless payments, and BNPL in Nigeria. They also discussed the need for more collaboration between the public and private sectors to create an enabling environment for the growth of the digital economy.
The second panel, titled “The Intersection of Fintech, eCommerce, and SMEs: Collaboration for Growth”, was moderated by John Obidi and featured five notable personalities from the Nigerian business and tech scene: Nnamdi Ekeh, CEO of Konga; Tunde Kehinde, managing director of Lydia; Stan Martins, regional director of Meta; John Obaro, CEO of Systemspecs; and Seyi Banigbe, founder of Bland2Glam.
The panel discussed the importance of collaboration between financial technology companies, eCommerce platforms, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to drive growth and innovation in Nigeria. They explored how collaboration can help to address the challenges faced by SMEs, such as access to finance, inadequate digital infrastructure, and the lack of a supportive regulatory environment. They also highlighted the need for more investments in digital literacy and skills development to enable SMEs to leverage digital technologies for growth.
The panelists agreed that there is a need for more concerted efforts by the government, the private sector, and other stakeholders to create a more enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
In addition to the panel discussions, other IT industry leaders from global brands also presented on topics related to their areas of expertise. Demola Sanusi, Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services, spoke about cloud computing and its benefits for businesses. Temitope Aladenusi, Partner and Leader of Cybersecurity at Deloitte, discussed the importance of cybersecurity in the digital age. Andrew Uaboi, vice president and cluster head of Visa West Africa, discussed the future of payments in Africa. Blaise Ijebor, director of risk management at the Central Bank of Nigeria, spoke about risk management in the financial sector. Keelan Singh, head of UiPath EMEA Banking and Financial Services, presented on the role of automation in banking and finance.
Shweta Juneja, partner at McKinsey Digital, talked about the impact of digital transformation on customer experience. Wole Odeleye, Financial Services Technology Lead at Microsoft, spoke about the role of technology in financial inclusion. Ope Ajayi, Founder and CEO of Cinemax, discussed the role of digital media in building brand awareness and customer engagement. Elo Umeh, Managing Director of Terragon, explored the potential of data analytics in driving business growth
The 2-day event also featured goodwill messages by Bosun Tijani, the minister of Communication, Innovation & Digital Economy, and Doris Anite, minister of Industry, Trade & Investment, represented by Femi Adeluyi, national coordinator for the national talent programme.