Africa Banks, Fintech CEOs Call for a Consolidated Payment System
Africa Fintech firms and banks have called for a consolidated effort to provide as much information and access to digital information as a way of evolving the payment ecosystem under coronavirus (Covid-19).
The call was made during a webinar session COVID-19 Pandemic discussed by African Tech Leaders’ Outlook: under the topic: “The Fintech Outlook: How will the Payments landscape evolve?”
The 2 hour session moderated by Adedoyin Odunfa, CEO Digital Jewels, was attended by Dr. Diane Karusisi, CEO Bank of Kigali; among other Managing Directors like Michell Elegbe, Interswitch Group; Alex Bram, Hubtel, ; Agnes Gathaiya, CEO IPSL Kenya.
During the discussions, panelists said that the coronavirus pandemic lock down caught the financial and fintech sector unprepared but has left them with lessons to enable the sectors improve especially in payments and clients digital experiences.
Karusisi said that with the current Covid-19 lockdown Africans need to build an eco-system that brings aboard clients digital engagement to shift trends of clients having to walk to agents and bank branches to make payments or withdraw money.
Using her experience in Rwanda, Karusisi said during the Covid-19 lockdown, it has been difficult to process all the information and needs of clients who applied for digital services almost at the same time.
“There is a lot to be done and there is change in client’s digital behavior at this time, of which we have been overwhelmed by the demand for services when the partial covid-19 lockdown was announced,” Karusisi said.
Karusisi called on fintechs and banks to look for better solutions moving forward without waiting for clients to ask for them.
As part of the solution to this Karusisi said that Bank of Kigali has embarked on building interactive interfaces (between financial institutions) which are user friendly, to mitigate the challenge of being understaffed to meet each of the client’s needs.
So far in Rwanda, banks like BK have managed to integrate personal bank data with the mobile money subscription services offered by telecommunication companies, and the Rwanda Central Bank has scrapped all service fees on points of sale and on mobile money sending.
Karusisi also suggested that fintech should use the data collected on clients’ needs to create a tailor made digital payment plan for each of the clients since not all clients were equally affected by the lockdown.
Other panelists also agreed with her suggestion but insisted on building trust of clients on their financial data and how it is used with accountability and transparency.
For example Alex Bram, CEO Hubtel in Ghana said the country has faced a challenge of access to client financial information, but with their central bank trusting and opening up data to fintech companies they have managed to ease movement of clients from bank to bank.
“We thus have to be more open on transactions to increase trust of clients. Openness empowers clients to trust us. They will not need to go to the banks or branches and this will make us invest more in digital tech to see more change,” Bram said.
For Agnes Gathaiya, CEO IPSL Kenya, she said that client digital experience has to be the main focus of changing the rudiment financial payment systems (of going to the banks) before coronavirus into effective trusted digital payments.
“Once a person has tasted a user friendly and trusted digital payment system, they get caught up in it, and can never go back; unless it is not trusted. So fundamentally we should have clients use these systems and stay there,” Gathaiya.
Africa’s fintech ecosystem raised $320m and grew a 60% in the last two years accounting for approximately $395.7 million accounts out of a global total of $866 million- equivalent to 46% of global mobile money.
Interestingly, despite having the highest level of mobile phone and internet penetration, only 10% of all payments and transactions in the continent are based on technology.