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‘Nigeria needs new technology solutions to digitise commerce’

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Andrew Torre, President, Visa Sub-Saharan Africa.

Andrew Torre is the President, Visa Sub-Saharan Africa. He spoke with ADEYEMI ADEPETUN, on Visa’s partnership with some Nigerian banks, the innovation mVisa brought into mobile payment services in the country. He submitted that Nigeria needs new technology solutions to digitise commerce

How will this mVisa solution compliment eCommerce and reduce the unbanked in Nigeria?
Let me start by saying that before now, you needed the 16 digits of your bank card to do transactions, but now, you can take a picture of it and complete your transactions. Basically, it is an enabler of ecommerce. There are so many reasons limiting the unbanked in Nigeria, which include bank locations to the processes involved in banking. But the mVisa solution guarantees faster access. Diamond, Fidelity and First banks, which have signed on the platform, will offer their customers the convenience of mVisa through their mobile banking apps. Access Bank, Ecobank, United Bank for Africa, and Zenith Bank, will go live with mVisa in the coming weeks. Nigeria is the first market to provide customers the convenience of making cross-border payments using mVisa.

Is this solution peculiar to the Nigerian market?
We have launched in India, Rwanda, Egypt, and Kenya. We have to get SSA as it is a massive market. To service the SSA market, we believe that Nigeria is crucial, because banks here are sophisticated, they have banking applications, such that integrating these solutions was truly fast.

Who are the targets markets for this solution in the country?
Small and medium merchants in particular will no longer have to invest in expensive point of sale infrastructure as mVisa gives them the freedom to accept payments in a convenient, secure and affordable manner that their customers trust.

We expect to see more and more merchants come on board every day as they begin to understand the benefits that mVisa brings, including real-time notifications of payments and access to sales and transactions history. We have campaigns lined up for the coming months to support our merchants and encourage new customers to experience mVisa at various locations across Nigeria.

Today, Visa and its financial institution partners are, for the first time, providing the benefits of digital commerce to potentially everyone, everywhere across Nigeria and the African continent, bringing millions more people into the formal financial system.

What was the intent behind creating this solution?
Our plan is to have everyone digitised, both consumers and merchants. So, we see mVisa really changing that by allowing anyone to be a merchant with a simple QR code and with the solution, banks can get people enrolled into their mobile banking platform.

The way VISA work is through our clients, we can reach everyone across different areas. We do not physically reach out to consumers, or merchants, but we have since realised that it is so much better to partner with industry stakeholders, especially the banks. They already employ the services of the 16 digit card numbers, but we see things changing fast with mVisa. All that is needed is for partners to enable it on their mobile banking platform and transactions are rolled out.

How important is this platform to the Nigerian market considering the fact that when there are challenges, most other companies will leave?
We have been in Africa for decades. We are long-term investors. Africa is important to us more so, Nigeria as the largest economy in Africa. If you look at what we have done this year, which include opening of new office, employing new staff and even doubled it. We have brought in more technical experts, more marketing people, and we think it is a great time to invest. We offer technological solutions that are immensely beneficial.

We have been here for 20 years; we will be here for more years. We stay strong even when the chips are down. For instance, India went into demonetisation six months ago, knocked out 86 per cent of the currency.

They asked us to come back with products, which we did. So, when things are down with the government, paying with digital cards help to reduce cost, puts more money into the banking system, this enables more productivity. The Nigerian government has been talking about cashless policy, so, we believe we aligned with the government focus with this new solution.

What are the security measures put in place to secure this platform?
It is a combination of what the banks apply on their mobile platform and what we offer too. Just as you authenticate yourself; it will lay out on the other end too.


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