Synergy amongst Operators and Regulation Key to Growing Digital Payments in Africa


Monday, August 16, 2021 / 9:02 AM / Ottoabasi Abasiekong for WebTV / Header Image Credit: Tradepass

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Enabling regulations and synergy amongst operators in the financial services, fintech and technology businesses would catalyze growth for the digital payments industry in Africa.


Stakeholders made this point at the recent 7th World Financial Innovation Series hosted virtually by Tradepass, which attracted over 1500 technology and business heads from 200+ leading Banks, Insurance & Micro-Finance institutions across Africa.


In a panel session that discussed "Future of Transactions and Payments: Developing the Digital Payments Sector", Shehryar Ali, Country Manager - East Africa, Mastercard, believed  COVID 19 brought to the fore the gap in financial inclusion, which needs to be closed.


He said about two billion people do not have access to financial services, which is a significant concern that needs addressing through innovation and technology.


In closing the gap for financial services, Mastercard, through its "Farmers Network", has supported women entrepreneurs, especially in the agriculture sector, with the example in Kenya. The initiative has empowered women through mobile technology to improve their agri-business activities.


Also contributing in the session Makabelo Malumane, Head of Transaction Banking, Kenya and East Africa, Standard Chartered Bank, said the financial institution is looking at improving the lives of 1bn people,  focusing on women-led businesses in the region.


Makabelo believed that payments require partnerships between banks, mobile operators and fintech with emphasis on interoperability.


For Robert Kariuki, Digital and Transaction Banking Specialist, Sidian Bank Limited, the concept of contactless payment is still at the nascent stage in Africa, with the middle-class as the ones adopting it.


According to him, there are prospects for the rapid growth and speed in digital transactions through contactless payment. He said convenience is the critical factor for modern-day customers, which is what contactless payments bring.


He added that the pricing element is a significant factor in the adoption of contactless and virtual payments, which needs to be reviewed by industry players and regulators.


Sam Mohatle, Head of Digital Banking, First National Bank, Lesotho, decried that regulators are academic and slow in adapting to innovation's new trends and realities.


He tasked regulators to invest in technologies that will enable them to carry out their regulatory functions, especially for the fintech segment. Banks, according to him, should foster collaboration with fintech.


The digital banking expert said, "There is a need for aggressive digitization of regulatory processes to make it seamless for approvals. Regulators should speed up the pace of their activities leveraging technology".

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