In this media chat, Chuks Onyebuchithe executive director of limited joint system an indigenous fintech and software development firm with “strong” footprints in the financial sector of Nigeria and beyond talks about their various solutions in Nigerian banks and how they have been able to implement world-class financial solutions with the strong support system. He talks about other issues plaguing the industry, such as the shortage of human skills and capacity and the perception of Nigerians towards indigenous software. Anthony Nwosu captures this in an exclusive interview.

Union System Limited has been in the ICT ecosystem for some time, may we know the journey so far?

Our journey spans more than 20 years, where we began as partners in a leading international company. Over the years, as we sold and implemented this company’s software products, we discovered some opportunities disguised as problems.

Products could not meet the peculiarities of the region, there was a constant need to source FX to pay for the systems, and the attendant cost of customizing to fit requirements had become overwhelming for customers. The sum of these challenges was the reason why USL, in 2017, decided to write its own products.

USL has been a player in delivering financial software solutions to financial institutions for over 2 decades, in this time, we have seen a steady increase in the complexities of these institutions’ software requirements as their process has evolved to adapt to the increasing sophistication of its customers. This has inevitably led to a demand for more efficient yet easier to use solutions, which is what USL prides itself on continually offering.

Can you consider yourself a Fintech considering that you work with trade finance software?

Yes, USL is a fintech provider; however, we are primarily concerned with the provision of business-to-business (B2B) business financial software solutions. These solutions have a longer development cycle and a longer implementation cycle and are very comprehensive in achieving the goals of adopting financial institutions. Our products range from trade finance software to treasury management applications, integration middleware, core banking solution, payment and messaging hubs, and supply chain finance.

You have implemented your solutions for notable financial houses and banks such as FCMB, Coronation, WEMA, etc., how has this been?

USL’s implementation experience spans over 20 years in Nigeria and other African countries. Union Systems implemented most of the trade finance software implemented in many banks in Nigeria.

These implementations and many others have not only been successful, but have also helped these banks meet their strategic objectives. Our solutions are very flexible and highly configurable, almost completely eliminating the need for customization. This has increased the rate of adoption within our client’s organization and a faster return on investment (ROI).

You recently had a seamless integration into the CBN Trade Monitoring System (TRMS), may we know how this happened?

The TRMS is one of several regulatory portals through which the CBN monitors specific transactions related to international trade and treasury. Through collaboration with leading financial institutions in Nigeria, we integrate similar regulatory portals such as Nigeria Single Window (NSW), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and NIBBS portal, thus TRMS portal integration it was accomplished with few challenges. It also helped that we were involved, also through our existing collaborations, with testing the initial release pilot.

Do you think banks are investing heavily in IT infrastructure now that many skills are leaving the country, especially in the area of ​​software development?

Yes, banks are investing more in technology as the volume and sophistication of the transactions and processes they must carry out increase. However, because technology is vast, with many rapidly changing moving parts, banks must focus on banking and direct their investments towards technology partners such as local OEMs.

These indigenous OEMs or technology companies are better equipped with the right resources and agile enough to keep up with the changing nature of their industry.

Whichever way they choose to invest, whether directly in the business or by paying the right prices for indigenous software solutions, they will save money in the long run. These savings can take the form of little or no need to earn FX to pay for software solutions, training the skill base to handle the solutions, availability of local support for those products, reduced maintenance costs, and management of dynamic demands. . of technology.

What is your opinion on the development of capacities in the industry?

We are losing a lot of talent to the “Japa” syndrome that is engulfing us, as such a government should encourage universities to build technology clusters that allow both the public and private sectors to not only develop new capabilities but also retain existing ones.

These tech clusters should act as coding hubs for younger students, and there should be deliberate regulations to support local systems that are properly paid for their solutions. When indigenous software companies receive the right value in terms of pay, they will in turn be able to pay those with the requisite skill set in proportion to their international counterparts, ultimately reducing the brain drain affecting the industry.

Do you think Nigerians have the ability to create world class software?

Definitely yes, USL has already proven this with our flagship Kachasi International Trade Financing Solution, our egora Treasury Management System, our Optimum Multibank Bank Corporate Portal, Our Payment and Messaging Hub sakobiaour Integration Middleware –tentaclesand our 24/7 support portal ISURA. These are specialized products that are causing a sensation in the local and international markets.

The same can be said for other sectors of the economy, such as health, agriculture, education, etc., where Nigerians drive change and compete effectively. As world-class indigenous solutions such as ours are given the right support, adoption and value, Nigerians will continue to break through the glass ceiling and produce software that can compete on a global stage.

Kachasi, tell us how and where you implemented this important trade finance software.

Kachasi is in production at 5 commercial and merchant banks in Nigeria today. We are in the advanced stages of negotiations with several other banks in Nigeria and Kenya.

How is your support system?

Our support approach starts with building capacity within banks from the implementation stage, thus ensuring a formidable first line of support from within and that the right sense of ownership is achieved before the end of the implementation project. When the bank is unable to resolve the issue with its first line of support, the issue is logged on our support portal, ISURA, where our team of experts representing a second line of support is available for prompt resolution.

All our customers can access ISURA 24/7 to receive and manage support requests and a dedicated support team that ensures that all support requests are dealt with in the shortest possible time. We also provide premium level support services for customers with more intensive support requirements.

What do you perceive as the advantage of implementing an indigenous solution?

Yes, Kachasi (formerly Trade-X), Optimus (single and multi-bank), Isura, Sakobia, Tentacles and Egora were designed and developed by USL at our head office in Lagos, Nigeria. Some advantages of adopting our solutions include the elimination of the need to search for FX to license them, the availability of local support, the ability to meet unique local requirements, etc.

Our multiple decades of experience, understanding of the challenges of a particular market, and the ease of configuring our system to suit that market while providing international/standard best practices ensure that all of our solutions provide the necessary advantage to our customers and partners. .

What sets your Tentacles software apart from others?

Tentacles is our Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) that manages integrations and interoperability between various applications, channels and portals, both inside and outside of a financial institution. The drag-and-drop simplicity to set up mediation for multiple message types, real-time monitoring of all channels and integration nodes, and very friendly user interfaces, requiring no technical knowledge, are some of its advantages.

Can we learn about the challenges you face as an organization?

Each sector has its own unique challenges, I would like to believe that one of the main challenges of the sector in which we operate is that of mentality. Many decision makers still believe that foreign solutions are always better than indigenous and that indigenous solutions are synonymous with lower quality, this is not true for us at Union Systems.

There’s also this belief that indigenous software should be cheap because they think it’s inferior. What most people don’t realize is that the skill set required to create software abroad is the same as that required in Nigeria. This is important because we must pay our people proportionally to their counterparts. This flawed mentality and low prices push local software vendors to lower their standards, thus creating inferior products compared to their international counterparts. Ultimately, there must be a concerted effort to drive more partnerships with credible and experienced local OEMs, and in turn, greater adoption of indigenous solutions.