Payment is an important driver of commerce and socio-economic development. The evolution of payment is today revolutionizing society.
Across the African continent, technology intertwines with tradition forging a path toward financial inclusion. As digital payment infrastructure expands, businesses flourish and communities thrive. The once-insurmountable challenges of accessing financial services are being overcome, opening doors of opportunity for individuals and enterprises alike.
From the bustling streets of Nairobi to the vibrant cities of Johannesburg, and the ancient wonders of Egypt to the thriving markets of Nigeria, a transformative wave is sweeping across Africa. In this digital age, the continent is witnessing a revolution in the realm of financial connectivity, propelled by the remarkable rise of digital payment systems.
Indeed, digital payment adoption is rapidly gaining momentum, reshaping the way transactions take place. Today, digital payment solutions are weaving their way into the fabric of everyday life, revolutionizing the economic landscape. With a growing population embracing the convenience of mobile wallets and contactless transactions, Africa is charting a course toward a cashless future.
The continent has moved quickly from cards to the latest emerging digital solutions. Now that Contactless is on the board how prepared is Africa to engage, mingle and progress?
Is Africa ready to step into a realm where innovation intertwines with progress, and where the potential for a more inclusive and prosperous future takes centre stage? The Digital PayExpo 2023, where visionaries, regulators, and industry experts converged to chart Africa’s transformative journey into the contactless revolution provided a scintillating insight into the future.
Adeyinka Adeyemi, Managing Director/CEO, INTERMARC Consulting, organiser of the forum in his welcome address revealed that the theme of this year’s event The Future is Contactless was chosen in recognition of the trajectory of digital payment.
According to him, “We are here to further our understanding of the impact, implications and direction of financial technologies, particularly to glean into the future of contactless payments.”
Right off the bat, the speakers conceded that financial inclusion has improved across the country with digital payment as the catalyst driving it. They argued that the regulators continue to play a crucial role in fostering confidence in the financial industry, particularly the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) through the insurance of deposits and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) proactive and forward-looking policy.
Bello Hassan, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, NDIC, delivering his keynote address emphasized the importance of financial inclusion and highlighted the significant progress made in recent years. He urged regulators to leverage innovation and digitalization to further enhance the function of the emerging digital economy. He pointed out that the introduction of eNaira and insurance for deposits in the financial sector were among the strategies discussed to foster confidence in digital payments and improve financial inclusion.
Musa Jimoh, Director, Payment Systems, CBN, highlighted the fact that regulators face a dilemma of keeping up with the speed of technological advancements. He stressed that risk mitigation and consumer protection should be top priorities to build trust in the digital payment ecosystem. He noted that it is important that issues around restitution and chargeback mechanisms are addressed effectively to allay consumer concerns.
Elias Igbinakenzua, MD, Globus Bank, provided insights into the future of banking, which is rapidly evolving towards a digital-first approach. He revealed that the transition from cards to digital payments was driven by smartphone adoption, increased internet penetration, and technological advancements. According to Igbinakenzua, “Efficiency, enhanced personalization, mobile banking dominance, open banking, and collaboration with fintech companies are crucial factors for future success.”
Experts, during the panel sessions, discussed the transformative potential of blockchain technology in the financial sector. They emphasized the need for banks to collaborate with fintech companies, leveraging big data analytics to offer personalized services and seamless customer experiences across various touchpoints. The consensus was that collaboration rather than competition between banks and fintechs was the key to success.
Education and awareness campaigns were deemed essential to address the lack of awareness and device limitations that hinder the adoption of contactless payments. The need for greater collaboration between tech entrepreneurs and the government, as well as the establishment of common regulatory frameworks for AI, was equally highlighted.
Experts equally emphasized the need for robust security measures, employee education, strong customer authentication, and the creation of alternative credit scores to minimize risks. Collaboration among industry players and the implementation of safety nets such as SIM PINs were identified as crucial steps in ensuring the integrity of digital transactions.
The Digital PayExpo 2023 highlighted the transformative power of contactless payments and the importance of collaboration, education, and innovation to achieve financial inclusion in Nigeria.
As the digital banking landscape continues to evolve, industry players must embrace technology, strengthen security measures, and provide seamless customer experiences. With concerted efforts from regulators, banks, fintech companies, and consumers, Nigeria’s digital payment ecosystem is poised for significant growth, shaping the future of the nation’s and indeed Africa’s economy.
Contactless payment refers to a method of making secure and convenient transactions without the need for physical contact between a payment card or mobile device and a payment terminal. It enables users to make payments by simply tapping their contactless-enabled cards or devices, such as smartphones or smartwatches, near a contactless payment terminal.
With the popularity of mobile payments, contactless credit cards and other payment systems taking off in recent years, it is clear that this trend will not be slowing down anytime soon.
The consensus is that contactless payment will spurn a tale of innovation and progress in Africa’s transformative journey. As more and more people tap into the potential of this technology, unlocking new possibilities and paving the way for a more inclusive and prosperous future. The stage is set, the momentum is building, and Africa is ready to embrace the contactless revolution.
The transformative payment journey for the entire African continent has begun!
Elvis Eromosele, a Corporate Communication professional and public affairs analyst lives in Lagos.