Everyone who knows CWG will very quickly associate the brand with Finacle, a core banking solution. No one can deny the influence of CWG in the financial services sector of Nigeria and some other parts of Africa.
CWG started its operations in Lagos in 1992 as a distributor for Dell Partner with an initial customer base in the manufacturing and FMCG sector, counting brands like Ashaka Cements and NAFDAC as their first signings earlier on in their corporate life.
Technology was introduced into the Nigerian banking sector as far back as the 1970s. However, massive adoption only started to gain ground in the early 2000s.
The alliance with the banks started with the introduction of CWG’s in-house web banking software. CWG as a software house, was developing these bespoke solutions for banks against a backdrop where few banks had adopted the Local Area Network [LAN] connecting bank branches, while the more technology savvy banks had invested in the WAN infrastructure which helped in connecting branches within different cities.
CWG designed and deployed a web-enabled for banking customers which they aptly named: telephone banking and PC banking. As was the practice, bank customers would typically resort to making phone calls to their bank branches to ascertain bank balances before writing out cheque mandates for withdrawals. CWG’s solution was to connect the customers to authenticated telephone lines to expedite the process of bank balance inquiries and limit unlawful withdrawals.
CWG evolved alongside the slow adoption of technology in the industry, signing an exclusive regional partnership deal with Infosys to install and provide its core banking application, Finacle in the year 2000. The uptake was slow but the potential for the market was evident, considering that in 2002, the Central Bank wanted to assess the penetration of technology in the Nigerian banks. Conducted a survey of all 89 banks in operations at the time, with findings that: only 17 offered internet banking services, 24 others provided basic telephone banking, only 7 offered ATM services and about 13 others had other electronic banking services.
By 2004, about ten(10) of those banks had upscaled and signed up for the Finacle solution, providing both the banks and the customers a more robust and centralised system across branches and cities, in a seamless fashion. Coincidentally, in the same year, In mid-2004 the CBN instituted a banking sector reform law, mandating an increase of the minimum capital requirement from N2 billion to N25 billion ($193.8 million at the time).
The consolidation encouraged several mergers and acquisitions deals which drastically shrunk the number of operating banks to 25. The resultant effect on the other hand was the spike in demand for superior technology to manage its transactions as well as create the needed efficiency that will help the banks to scale. CWG was on hand to help manage this period of expansion for the banks, and provide all-round integrated IT solutions and other ancillary services. This singular event cemented CWG’s ongoing relationship and influence with the financial services sector.
CWG’s continued entrenchment in the industry is built on their unique blend of customer service, in that their service does not end with installation, after implantation they would often encourage the banks to send their team to Infosys in India for more training to enable customisation of the product to suit their own needs. In other words, they also indirectly supported adequate knowledge transfer and flexibility.
In addition to deploying global solutions, CWG has also been involved in designing and implementing local solutions for banks. Before its acquisition by another bank, CWG in partnership with a telephone company helped to create a product, called the Diamond Yellow Account (DYA), which on deployment was so successful that it increased the bank’s customers from 2 million to 6 million customers. CWG has not only partnered with the big banks, but they have also partnered with other players in the microfinance banks to varying degrees.
There is a saying that you get to know your true friends in your time of crisis. During the pandemic, CWG proved to be a friend indeed, working with its banking clients at the backend to ensure zero disruptions to its services and full compliance with its business continuity plans.
More than 2 decades later, and with her involvement in almost 70% of all banking transactions in Nigeria, CWG remains a trusted ally and partner to the banks.