Marketplace Africa airs on CNN International on Saturday 22nd April 2023 at 07:30 SAST

In an interview with CNN’s Zain Asher on Marketplace Africa, Access Holding’s Group Managing Director and CEO Herbert Wigwe discussed the company’s plans to expand and how the banking sector is changing.

Wigwe said that he hoped the company would be known as, “Africa’s gateway to the world.”

He discussed this intended international expansion, “I think that you would see a lot of expansion across the continent over the next couple of years, but I think beyond that, you would see us do a bit more in Europe and perhaps before the end of the next five years, the corporate strategic plan would definitely have put our flags in the US.”

Wigwe and his business partner acquired Access Bank in 2002. He spoke about how the banking landscape has changed in that time, “The consumer has changed in terms of demographics, because it has changed in terms of their own needs. People would take a lot of cash in 2002. Now most of those things, or most of those facilities or transactions that would’ve been done using cash are done using cards. And we’ve also seen the evolution right now to more digital means. And of course, we’re now talking about cryptos, right? So it’s been big changes from 2002 to now.”

Wigwe also spoke about the future of the banking sector. He highlighted the rise of crypto currency, and how Nigeria is attempting to regulate the sector, “It’s very interesting and in the context of Nigeria, very regulated, because the regulators are trying to make sure that they have a better grasp of what is happening as far as crypto is concerned. […] Leveraging that, we will have the Access coin for instance and the idea is to help support financial inclusion.”

As more and more unicorns (startups valued at over $1 billion) are created on the continent, Wigwe says that African entrepreneurs’ potential has been unlocked, “I think there’s still so much more that can happen. There are people doing great things in South Africa, in Kenya and more and more will be born. And the reason some of us are happy is that people are beginning to see that intellect, talent, technical skills also exists here. It’s not a European thing or an American thing.”