“In some respects, African banks are gaining a leg up on international rivals as they install brand new computer systems from scratch, without having to patch together costly legacy systems that have been around since the 1960s. Al-Noor Ramji of Misys, a banking-technology firm, reckons that African retail banks can achieve costs as low as 30% of their income. Rich-country banks, in contrast, are usually happy if they can get cost-to-income ratios of 50%.
The group of banks that are embracing these technologies most eagerly are the big regional banks. These include South Africa’s Standard Bank, which operates in 18 countries in Africa; Ecobank, a Togo-based pan-African bank with businesses in 32 countries; and Nigeria’s United Bank for Africa (UBA), which is in 19 countries. Their growth has been helped by the retrenchment of some international banks in recent years. A freeze in dollar funding afflicting French banks last year caused many to reduce their activities in Francophone west Africa, for instance. HSBC has shifted its attention to Asia after pulling out of 2010 talks to buy Nedbank, South Africa’s fourth-largest bank.”