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Osabuohien Evans S.C, Covenant University-Ota Nigeria


Banking has become highly Information Communication Technology (ICT) based and due to its inter-

sectoral link, is reaping the benefits of technological revolution as evidenced by its application in most of its operations. This study empirical analyzes the anticipated role ICT has in enhancing the operations of selected Nigerian banks in the light of current reforms. Primary data was employed, which was analyzed using cross-tabulations and regression technique built on the framework of technical progress. Factors such as bankers’ age, educational qualification, computer literacy and type of ICT gadgets, were found to influence banks’ degree of ICT usage, while ICT impacts significantly the speed of banking operations, productivity and profitability. The need for banks to regularly train their workers, and procure quality ICT gadgets, which will enhance efficiency, etc, was stressed. This is crucial in the sector’s current reforms where attention is focused on the ability of banks to attract and retain customers, which is primarily accomplished through efficient service delivery.

JEL: G21, G28 M41


I n recent times, Information Communication Technology (ICT), which basically involves the use of electronic gadgets especially computers for storing, analyzing and distributing data, is having a dramatic influence on almost all aspects of individual lives and that of the national economy- the banking sector inclusive. The increasing use of ICT has allowed for integration of different economic units in a spectacular way. This phenomenon is not only applicable to Nigeria but other economies of the world, though the level of their usage may differ. In Nigeria, ICT usage especially in the banking sector, has considerably improved, even though it may not been as high as those observed for advanced countries (Adeoti, 2005; Adeyemi, 2006).

The use of ICT in the banking sector became of interest to this study due to the significant role it plays in the economy. It helps in stimulating economic growth by directing funds to economic agents that need them for productive activities. This function is very vital for any economy that intends to experience meaningful growth because it makes arrangements that bring borrowers and lenders of financial resource together and more efficiently too than if they had to relate directly with one another (Adam, 1998; Ojo, 2007). In essence, the banking sector acts as a bridge that connects lenders and investors in the economy.

Hence, the need for reforms in the sector initiated by the Federal Government via the instrumentality of the Central Bank of Nigeria-CBN.

The bank reforms (especially the recapitalization that specifies a minimum capital base of 25 billion naira for commercial banks), are pursued with a view to making the sector realize its objectives in advancing the economy (CBN, 2006). It is expected that the impact of these reforms will be enhanced with the use of ICT because it will create some form of competitive advantage and improve banking services through accuracy and efficiency in their transactions. In other words, it will change the nature of banks’ services in terms of quality which will culminate in greater service delivery and productivity. This is in tandem with the findings made by Adeoti (2005) that the use of information technology has the ability of improving the competitiveness of Nigerian manufacturing industries.

67O. Evans S.C. | Global Journal of Business Research ♦ Vol. 2 ♦ No. 2 ♦2008

From the above discourse, this paper seeks to carry out an empirical analysis on the anticipated role of ICT in enhancing the operations of selected Nigerian banks in the light of current reforms in the sector.

To achieve this objective, three commercial banks were selected, viz; Union Bank of Nigeria Plc-UBN, United Bank for Africa Plc- UBA and Wema Bank Plc-Wema. The study is structured into sections. Next to this introduction is the literature review, followed by the analytical framework and methodology.

Section 4 is analyses of data, summary of findings and recommendations. The last section is the conclusion.


The Concept of ICT and a Perspective of Nigerian Banks Technology can be referred to as the application of knowledge for the execution of a given task. It entails skills and processes necessary for carrying out activities (works) in a given context. While ICT encompasses computer systems, telecommunication, networks, and multimedia applications (Frenzel, 1996). It came into use in the late 1980’s replacing earlier terms like Electronic Data Processing (EDP), Management Information System (MIS), although the latter terms are still in use (Frenzel, 1996).

ICT has transcended the role of support services or only electronic data processing; its fields of applications are somewhat global and unlimited. Its devices especially the Internet through the World Wide Web (www) and modern computer email facilities have further strengthened early innovations like the telephone and fax. Other ICT devices include data recognition equipment, factory automation hardware and services, tele-computing and teleconferences using real time and online system (Adeoti, 2005). It is a concept that is having a remarkable effect on almost entire aspects of the human endavours.

This connotes that it involves the application of principles to engage physical component in achieving an intended goal.

The convergence of computer and telecommunication after about four decades of applying computers to routine data processing, mainly in information storage and retrieval, has created a new development where information has become the engine of growth around the world. This development has created catch-up opportunities for developing countries such as Nigeria to attain desired levels of development without necessarily ‘reinventing the wheels’ of economic growth. This new technology has brought farreaching revolution in societies, which has tremendously transformed most business (banking) scenes (Ovia, 2005).

With respects to the banks in Nigeria, the first bank was established in 1892 (then African Banking Corporation). However, there was no banking legislation until 1952 when three foreign banks (Bank of British West Africa, Barclays Bank, and British and French Bank) and two indigenous banks (National Bank of Nigeria and African Continental Bank) were established, with a total number of 40 branches (Iganiga, 1998). As at 1988, the Nigerian banking system consisted of the CBN, 42 commercial banks and 24 merchant banks (Iganiga, 1998; Adam, 2005).

From 1970, the banking sector grew significantly in terms of number and coverage as a result of increase in economic activities. However, between 1970 and 1985, the growth of the sector was relatively slow due to predominant government regulations but the period 1986-2000 witnessed a phenomenal growth of the sector as a result of the financial deregulation policy, that is the Structural Adjustment Program-SAP of 1986 (Iganiga, 1998). This brought about the liberalization of bank licence leading to a rapid change in the sector. Some of the banks were characterized by paper oriented methods, rather than technological based systems and this resulted to slow pace of their operations vis-à-vis their employees’ productivity cum general performance. The use of computers and other ICT gadgets in their operations were limited.

68 GLOBAL JOURNAL OF BUSINESS RESEARCH ♦ Volume 2 ♦ Number 2 ♦2008 This was one of the reasons adduced by Ojo (2007) as factors responsible for the Nigerian financial sector malaise.

To mitigate the shocks experienced in the system, the Federal Government of Nigeria came up with the financial sector reforms through the CBN. The bank reforms entail other issues but this paper is dwelling manly on the bank consolidation that was initiated in 2004. The policy thrust on bank reforms encompasses the sum of the variations that occur in the direction of a comprehensive banking system. The bank reforms agenda, among others, specified a minimum capital base of 25 billion naira for the commercial banks that took effect in December, 2005 (Diamond Bank, 2005; CBN, 2006). This has reduced the number of commercial banks in Nigeria from 89 to 25, which was done via the processes of mergers, acquisition and the stock market (CBN, 2006; Ige, 2007). The major aim was to make Nigerian banks vibrant and resilient, clothed with efficiency and financial strength to absorb possible shocks, thereby instilling public confidence as well as global relevance (Soludo, 2004).

ICT and Nigerian Banking Sector

The revolution in ICT has made the banking sector changed from the traditional mode of operations to presumably better ways with technological innovation that improves efficiency. ICT can enhance efficiency via its use and in recent times banks have been encouraged by the rapid decline in the price of ICT gadgets. This has perhaps increased the bank level of ICT usage (Ovia, 2005).The increase might have also be attributable to business environment that became relatively flexible to accommodate new forms of technological change as a result of reforms in the country.

Banking is becoming highly ICT based and because of its inter-sectoral link, it appears to be reaping most of the benefits of revolution in technology, as can be seen by its application to almost all areas of its activities (Akinuli, 1999). It has broadened the scope of banking practices and changed the nature of banking as well as the competitive environment in which they operate. A broad opening has been experienced around the world for banks and they are currently taking due advantage of these innovations to provide improved customer services in the face of competition and faster services that enhance productivity (Akinuli, 1999; Ovia,2005).

Technological advancement facilitates payments and creates convenient alternatives to cash and cheque for making transactions. Such new practices have led to the development of a truly global, seamless and Internet enabled 24-hour business of banking. Technological advance in payments are important due to the fact that it will be feasible to outsource quite a number of the banks’ role in the payments system.

Also banks’ regulation can be more technologically dependent and better focused rather than focusing on conceptual guidelines. ICT revolution both in terms of innovation rate, speedy operation, and cost per unit (portraying reduction in average total and marginal costs) has made a good number of banks embrace the use of ICT infrastructure in their operations (Akinuli, 1999).

The technological innovation that is being witnessed currently in the Nigerian banking sector is possible of impacting on the banks’ mode of transactions especially in their payment systems. The payment systems are made feasible by ICT gadgets such as Automated Teller Machine (ATM), Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT), Clearing House Automated Payments (CHAPs), Electronic Purse (E-PURSE), Automated Cheque Sorter (ACS) and Electronic and Transfer at Point of Sale (EFTPOS), which have made transactions easy and convenient. This phenomenon is capable of bringing about speedy operations and enhanced productivity (Adeoti, 2005; Ovia, 2005). Though there may be little interruptions at times due to network failures, which may make customers unable to carry out transactions at that point in time.

This little shortcoming is not in any way comparable to the days when banking halls were characterized by long queues mainly as a result of delays in the traditional banking operations.

69O. Evans S.C. | Global Journal of Business Research ♦ Vol. 2 ♦ No. 2 ♦2008

Now banks can provide comprehensive services to their customers by making them access their accounts via online services. These instruments have an edge over the traditional payment instruments because it is safer, more efficient, convenient and cost effective. Before the introduction of these ICT services in the banking industry, manual processing of documents were in use. The bankers were made to cope with this onerous task, and the process made business transactions minimal. Besides several hectic procedures, people had to contend with, banks’ customers were inevitably made to spend several hours in the congested banking halls in carrying out their transactions (Ovia, 2005).

The ICT culture in Nigerian economy can be said to be on the increase. Nigeria is the largest Internet subscriber in Africa with about 100,000 Internet users as at 2000, which was estimated to have grossly increased (Balancing Act, 2007). It has also been observed that Nigeria’s teledensity had remarkably increased by more than 2,550% from 0.35% in 1992 to 9.3% in 2004, thereby greatly exceeding the International Telephone Union’s (ITU) benchmark of 1% (Ndukwe, 2005). This phenomenon has helped banks keep substantial information on-line which reduces the cost of marketing their products. Being a competitive tool, it enhances the creation of customized services, reduces the cost of operation, and improves productivity as well as profitability.

More interestingly, almost all the banks in Nigeria have internet and on-line real time banking facilities which has improved the scope of Nigerian banking1. It has aided transfer of funds from one location to another without any involvement of facial transactions thereby reducing the incidence of loss of funds to stealing and the likes. Another recent one is the telephone banking technology that allows customers to have transactions on their accounts by calling a particular telephone number, through voice activation, and using a tone pad. All of these improve the comfort of banking transactions.


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