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West Africa Launches New Payments Digitization Agenda

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In Senegal, 8 out of 10 workers are paid in cash. Most are temporary workers and excluded from health insurance. A survey revealed that 77% of temporary workers would be willing to receive their wages digitally if this gave them access to health insurance. These are some of the major findings of the publication that the Senegalese government has launched today, with support from the Better Than Cash Alliance (United Nations), the World Bank and the National Agency of Statistics and Demography of Senegal. Combining digital payments with health insurance benefits offers an excellent opportunity for social inclusion, formalization, and financial innovation.

Digital payments stimulate domestic production and consumption. If 50% of temporary workers in Senegal received payments digitally, 45 billion CFA francs would be added to GDP per year (around $80 million USD). Paying workers digitally, speeds up the financial inclusion for the population, boosts business competitiveness and increases financial system liquidity. To tap into this potential, the SME Development Agency (ADEPME) plans to bolster its SME support fund with $20 million USD (around 11 billion CFA francs) from the World Bank. This will be used to strengthen SME digitization initiatives and support digital payment projects for workers.

High-level leadership speaks out in support of digital payments for workers

Senegalese President Macky Sall and H.M. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, who serves as UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA), have launched an appeal to fellow leaders, the private sector and civil society, inviting them to: “use this report to ensure digital payments are at the center of a sustainable and fair economic recovery. We look forward to jointly providing leadership on this agenda to achieve an inclusive and digitally enabled recovery,” the two leaders added.

To set an example, the President of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, also decreed, in late 2020, the digitization of payments for workers in the administration of Burkina Faso. When the COVID crisis emerged, the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) and the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) took decisions aimed at reducing the circulation of cash in the 8 countries. These actions have had tangible impacts which are beginning to change the lives of workers and companies.

Digitizing payments and advancing universal health care coverage

While receiving a salary is often linked to health care contributions, globally at least 61% of workers operate in the informal sector without adequate coverage, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). Indeed, in some countries, there is not always a legal obligation for employers to contribute to any kind of coverage for their informal/self-employed workers, which affects women more than men.

To meet this challenge of inclusion, the National Agency for Universal Health Coverage in Senegal has launched an ambitious digital payments platform. It has partnered with fintechs and private companies to link access to universal health coverage and digital payments – specifically targeting women. Flagship national enterprises such as the agricultural giant SODAGRI or SMEs such as QUALIOCEAN and Kossam SDE are setting an example by providing temporary workers with universal health coverage. More than 200,000 workers will now have access to quality, government-subsidized health care.

While 81% of national companies have fewer than 20 employees, on average hundreds or even thousands of temporary workers are employed in their supply chains. Employees are generally banked, but 93% of employees on temporary contracts are paid in cash. The latter are systematically excluded from the formal health system.

The successful transition towards digital payments

Three obstacles have limited the growth of payment digitization in Africa: the size of the informal sector, sometimes up to 90% of the economy; the historically low financial inclusion rate; and most importantly, 21% of African workers receive a wage keeping them below the poverty line.

This has all changed dramatically. Financial inclusion has surged since 2010 with the arrival of electronic money issuers and fintech.

The country’s largest employer, Compagnie Sucrière Sénégalaise, has successfully digitized payment for around 8,000 workers via a partnership with local fintech. “We wanted to digitize payments without using the banking system, which isn’t suited to some populations,” noted Claude Fizaine, the company’s Secretary General, in an interview with an African media outlet. “For employers, the benefits of digitizing payments include avoiding the constraints of managing large amounts of cash, and all the risks that distribution can involve. It also makes it possible to offer employees tools tailored to their financial and family situations, which can only have a positive impact on their personal and professional lives,” he added.

WAEMU’s innovations should continue to inspire the rest of Africa. Since 2012, it has been the continent’s engine for economic growth and stability. The examples of Senegal and its neighbours reinforce the ILO’s global agenda that could well make digital payments for workers a new global standard for promoting decent work.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Fintech

Paystack Expands Operation After Acquisition, Enters South Africa

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Paystack, one of the leading Nigerian fintech Startups, has expanded operations to South Africa just seven months after Stripe acquisition.

The startup acquired for over $200 million in October 2020, announced its official launch in South Africa on Thursday to increase its operating markets to three, including Nigeria and Ghana.

The South African launch was preceded by a six-month pilot, which means the project kickstarted a month after Stripe acquired it. Stripe is gearing toward a hotly anticipated IPO and has been aggressively expanding to other markets. Before acquiring Paystack, the company added 17 countries to its platform in 18 months, but none from Africa. Paystack was its meal ticket to the African online commerce market, and CEO Patrick Collison didn’t mince words when talking about the acquisition in October.

There is an enormous opportunity. In absolute numbers, Africa may be smaller right now than other regions, but online commerce will grow about 30% every year. And even with wider global declines, online shoppers are growing twice as fast. Stripe thinks on a longer time horizon than others because we are an infrastructure company. We are thinking of what the world will look like in 2040-2050,” he said.

Although Stripe said the $600 million it raised in Series H this March would be used mainly for European expansion, its foray deeper into Africa has kicked off. And while Paystack claims to have had a clear expansion roadmap prior to the acquisition, its relationship with Stripe is accelerating the realization of that pan-African expansion goal.

Now, Africa accounts for three of the 42 countries where Stripe currently has customers today.

“South Africa is one of the continent’s most important markets, and our launch here is a significant milestone in our mission to accelerate commerce across Africa,” said Paystack CEO Shola Akinlade of the expansion. “We’re excited to continue building the financial infrastructure that empowers ambitious businesses in Africa, helps them scale and connects them to global markets.”

The six-month pilot saw Paystack work with different businesses and grow a local team to handle on-the-ground operations. However, unlike Nigeria and Ghana, where Paystack has managed to be a top player, what are the company’s prospects in the South African market where it will face stiff competition from the likes of Yoco and DPO?

The opportunity for innovation in the South African payment space is far from saturated. Today, for instance, digital payments make up less than half of all transactions in the country,” Abdulrahman Jogbojogbo, product marketer at Paystack said. “So, the presence of competition is not only welcome; it’s encouraged. The more innovative plays there are, the faster it’ll be to realize our goal of having an integrated African market.”

Khadijah Abu, head of product expansion, added that “for many businesses in South Africa, we know that accepting payments online can be cumbersome. Our pilot in South Africa was hyperfocused on removing barriers to entry, eliminating tedious paperwork, providing world-class API documentation to developers, and making it a lot simpler for businesses to accept payments online.”

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Leading Fintech Companies in Nigeria

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Financial Technology (Fintech) companies in Nigeria have raised millions of US dollars in the last few years, create jobs, increase foreign exchange inflow and taught Nigerians ease of doing financial transactions just in time without banks’ usual queues. 

Below is the list of 13 leading fintech companies in Nigeria.

Flutterwave

It was established in 2017 by Iyin Aboyeji and Olugbenga Abgoola and is headquartered in San Francisco. It provides payment services to banks and businesses to ensure seamless transactions with customers. It raised $170 million in its latest round of funding to increase its customer base in the global market. It initiated Batar. It allows users to create virtual US dollar debit cards within seconds for one-time or regular usage. Unlike other platforms, it requests a working email address and phone number as the service relies on customer details already obtained by a user’s bank.

Interswitch

Interswitch, headquartered in Lagos, integrates digital payments. It was founded in 2002 by Mitchell Elegbe. Visa in November 2019 invested $200 million and will recoup 20 per cent stake from the company which is valued at no less than $1 billion.

Paystack

PayStack was established in 2015 by Shola Akinlade and Ezra Olubi. It makes payment processes consistent for both consumers and the businesses they are attempting to pay.

Paga

Paga was founded in 2009 by Tayo Oviosu but launched in 2011. Through Paga, you can pay bills, make bank deposits and even pay in certain stores. It acts as a mobile wallet where customers perform transactions on their mobile devices.

Carbon

Carbon, formerly known as Paylater, is owned by One Finance and was founded in 2016. It is a loan app which gives short loans through its mobile app. Use of mobile phones to obtain loans makes the process faster and easier.

Remita

Remita set the pace for fintech companies in Nigeria as it was developed by system specs in 1991 by John Obaro. It assists SMEs, multinationals, state governments, government agencies, NGOs, educational institutions and individuals to receive and make payments electronically.

VoguePay

VoguePay was established in 2012, it is accessible to local consumers with a simple and minimal effort platform as its principal selling point.

OPay

OPay is owned by Opera. It entered the fintech market in August after acquiring a controlling stake in PayCom. It was founded by Telnet Nigeria.

Lidya

Lidya is a mobile-first technology with strong customer experience and proprietary credit scoring.

Kuda

Kudi Money was rebranded to Kuda Bank. It was founded in 2017 by Babatunde Ogundeyi. It performs similar functions like other fintech companies. The start-up raised $1.6 milion in 2019.

PiggyVest

It was originally known as Piggybank.ng, before it became PiggyVest. It allows debit cardholders to save little amounts of money frequently with minimal effort. It automates the process of saving tiny amounts daily, weekly, or monthly you. It was founded in February 2016 by Ayo Akinola, Joshua Chibueze, Nonso Eagle, Odunayo Eweniyi, and Somto Ifezue.

FairMoney

This is a mobile banking platform that gives loans and credits. It was founded in 2017. It has a team of people across Paris, France, and Lagos, Nigeria.

Chipper Cash

Chipper Cash was founded in 2017 by Ham Serunjogi and Maijid Moujaled and it is headquartered in San Francisco, California. It enables free instant cross-border mobile money transfers in Africa as easy as sending a text message.

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Klasha – Building Borderless Payments For Commerce In Africa

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Klasha

Starting as a fashion e-commerce company, Techstars backed company – Klasha is now building payment integrations that allow African consumers to buy from global retailers online in their local African currencies and get their items shipped quickly to the continent.

Today, we’re thrilled to introduce Klasha, a unified payments solution for commerce across Africa launching firstly in Nigeria.

How is Klasha different?

At Klasha, we’re simplifying borderless payments for commerce in Africa. Our solution helps merchants worldwide sell online to Africa and receive payments in local African currencies while enjoying super fast last-mile delivery to consumers across the continent. Consumers can make online payments regardless of where they are based geographically in Africa and where the retailers are based too.

What we have built

We have learned a lot about consumers’ pain points online over the past few years, and we are committed to solving these unique challenges. We have built a secure and reliable commerce solution from scratch using modern technologies.

Klasha Checkout

Our integrated technology solution – Klasha Checkout, can be integrated into any e-commerce platform, website, or app allowing international merchants to collect payments from Africa in local currencies. We ensure that consumers enjoy quick, cost-effective and direct shipping of physical goods from across the globe to their doorsteps.

The Klasha mobile app

Making international payments online is very problematic, and more often than not, local bank debit cards do not work and are marked with restrictions. We have built the Klasha mobile app – a simple and secure app that allows you to make local and international payments online in your local African currencies without any restrictions.

With the Klasha mobile app, you can send and receive money from family and friends who are using the app for free. No monthly charges or transfer fees. You can create a virtual card, fund it with NGN, KES or GHC, see all your transactions, including the amount paid, merchant details, card information and much more! The Klasha App is currently available for download in Nigeria on Android and iOS.

What’s Next?

For us, this is just the beginning, and in line with our mission, we are committed to transforming the payments landscape in Africa and building borderless payments for commerce.

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