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By Chinedu Nsofor.

When you talk about Information Technology ( IT) in Nigeria’s Banking System especially in relation to E- Banking one name that cannot be missed out is Engr. Michael Obi Ogbalu. He has built an enviable reputation for himself as a Notable and Highly regarded Mobile Money Operator.

His dedication and devotion to the E– Banking System is as awesome as it is outstanding. How did Mike Ogbalu come to this great height? Let us take a cursory look at his academic background.

He started his early education at the University Primary School, Enugu Campus of UNN where he had his First School Leaving Certificate in 1985. From 1985 to 1991 he was at the Federal Government College, Enugu for his Senior Secondary School Certificate and between 1992 to 1997 he studied Electrical/ Electronic Engineering at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri,Imo State,Nigeria where he bagged a Bachelor of Science Degree.

He also holds an MBA from the Lagos Business School of Pan African University. Michael Obi Ogbalu is a Fellow of the Chatered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria ( CIBN) he is also a product of the China Europe International Business School Economic Environment Course. He has also attended the Advanced Management Program of the Lagos Business School (2014) and is a Fellow of the International Academy of Cards and Payments.

Michael Ogbalu is a CISCO Certified Network Associate. (CCNA) and an Accredited Compaq Technician (ACT). He started his career at the Global Oil Producing Company_ ExxonMobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited as an Intern attached to West Area Operations with specific responsibilities to develop Well Documents for West Area Wells, doing Offshore routine checks and providing recommendations for updates on as built platform Documents and acting as a Stand- In Facilities Engineer (Under Supervision).

From 1999 to 2000, he was at Standard Trust Bank V/I where he was the Help desk/ Hardware Engineer reporting to the Head of System Maintenance and his responsibilities included running the Help desk as a one man unit till its development to a full unit status, monitoring and providing First Level Support to all User bankwide and ensuring the escalation where necessary; making recommendations on User’s need based on their most frequent Reports and repair of Bank’s hardware infrastructure.

From February 2002 to July 2002, he was Zonal Head of IT South reporting to the Divisional Head IT; specific responsibilities included overseeing the day to day affairs of IT Support Teams in South Nigeria, providing Marketing Support especially in areas of E– Banking, ensuring acceptable levels of uptime at Network, Banking application and other IT infrastructure levels, which includes putting in place emergency backup procedure and ensuring they are continually tested; Inventory management and IT asset disbursements, among others.

In that same July 2002, he joined Tenosys Global Konnect Ltd. as the New Business Development Manager with the duties of overseeing the day to day running of the Product and Marketing Department, designing and implementing market penetration and retention strategies for Products and Services and to develop new alliances with other businesses to ensure profitability and Product sales among others.

Between November 2004 and April 2008, he was at the United Bank for Africa (UBA), first as Acting Divisional Head NRN Funds Transfer, then, Pre Merger position as Head E–BANKING Support Group.

His jobs included the design and the rolling out of Products targeted at Nigerians in the diaspora and planning the strategy to sell these Products; to design, implement and manage new funds transfer Products and achieve breakeven/ profitability in record time; develop and manage the implementation of marketing/sales strategies to meet and exceed target projections and to ensure the profitability of the products in each of the Bank’s branches and others. In April 2008, he joined Afribank Nig. Plc. (Now Polaris Bank) as the Group Head, CID and FT, reporting to the ED South with responsibilities such as designing and rolling out Products for customers in the diaspora, Products targeted at Nigerians in the diaspora and planning the strategy to sell these Products.

This mandate has responsibilities for asset and liability generation, designing processes, enhancements towards growing Afribank remittance volumes, develop and manage the implementation of marketing/sales strategy and budget. By May 2010, he had become the Group Head E– Business reporting to the ED Institutional Banking with specific responsibilities to provide strategic planning and day to day supervision for the entire E–Business Group. To design and roll out of Afribank’s first of its kind Visa Credit Cards and the implementation of strategies to sell the products to develop and manage the implementation of marketing/sales to meet and exceed target projections.

He joined Ecobank Nig. Plc in April 2011 as Head, Cards and e Product and Acting Head of Domestic Products, which included e- Business, Ecobank Mobile, remittance, diaspora banking, brand and communications retail liabilities and contact centres, day to day management of the E Business department which drives the adoption of the Bank’s Card, ATM, POS, Internet Banking and other e Products, the design and implementation of strategies to drive 200% growth year on year and others. From December 2012 to July 2015 Michael Ogbalu was at the First Bank of Nig. Ltd as Head Mobile Financial Services Department with a mandate to build the largest Mobile Financial Service Product in Africa.

By the time he joined Interswitch Financial Inclusion Service as Divisional CEO, his works included the overall responsibilities for the Financial Inclusion ambitions of the Interswitch Group, day to day management of IFIS to drive the roll out and adoption of a Pan Nigerian Network Agents and develop and manage the implementation of strategies to meet and exceed target projections.

As the CEO of Verve International from December 2017 to February 2021, he was responsible for strategy, execution and attainment of landing zone objectives for Verve International, ensuring that Verve becomes the dominant Card Scheme in Nigeria in 24 months and to make Verve Pan African, while ensuring that the relevance of Verve form factors.

And from March 2021 to date, Michael Ogbalu remains the CEO of Pan African Payments and Settlement System (PAPSS) and his responsibilities includes, but not limited to, providing strategic, financial and operational leadership for the company and closely coordinating with the Governing Council, Board of Directors AFCTA Executives and Senior Leadership of Multilateral Institutions across the continent, to establish the PAPSS network and drive aggressive recruitment of Participants and leverage PAPSS Infrastructure to drive the growth of Intra Africa Trade.

Michael Obi Ogbalu was named the Mobile Money Operator of the Year 2014,by EFINA. In that same year, he won the Award for the Best Mobile Technology of the year by Card and ePayment Africa Awards. He secured a seat on the Mobile Payment Scheme Board.

During his days at First Bank, Firstmonie Subscriber grew to an impressive 2.8million in 24 months. He successfully secured a $12million Grant from the Gates Foundation. He also secured a strategic partnership with the Cherie Blair Foundation. He equally secured mandates with UNICEF,USAID, MDG Lagos and Osun States. From all indications, Engr. Michael Obi Ogbalu is the brain behind the E–BANKING revolution in Nigeria today.

That one can easily go to a Point Of Service (POS) Centre and quickly withdraw, transfer or deposit money is mainly due to the contribution of the likes of Michael Ogbalu to the Banking and Financial Industry. At a time like this, these are the type of people Nigeria needs to turn the Financial Sector around.

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