Interswitch is the numero uno payment Gateway in Nigeria (although ETRANZACT might have something to say about that!). With the infrastructure they have in place, Nigerians and surrounding African countries have been able to integrate e-payments onto their websites, and the companies growth has been essential for the growth of e-commerce in Nigeria. Interswitch recently completed payment processing integration with VISA, and with this move the company now accepts all major brands; Verve, Mastercard, Discover and now VISA. Given the massive local obstacles, such as inconsistent power supply, this feat is very impressive. In America, we often take for granted the complexity of the EFT networks that allow us make payments online from the comfort of our rooms. The payment systems are seamless with few hiccups or downtime. This is not always the case in Nigeria. I remember purchasing an airline ticket online in Nigeria way back in 2009. The payment was deducted from my account but the network went down before the ticket was issued. (Don’t ask, that was what they told me!!) Systems have vastly improved since 2009 but you still run into little hiccups, and improvements will only come with increased competition, and competition can only arise with increased investment. In America, competing EFT networks and the large volume of online users led to lower fees and a plethora of payment services. There are two types of EFT networks; Regional and National. Companies like Mastercard and Visa have national networks that connect banks, ATMs, users and merchants together seamlessly. While NYCE, Star, Pulse, Shazam are popular regional networks.
At Smile and Mobile we like to do comparisons between the developed and the developing world. African countries have the some of the fastest growing economies in the world, and we want to keep them on their toes. So how does Nigeria compare in terms of infrastructure? Is Interswitch and Etranzact comparable to NYCE and Star? Not really, but we can’t really blame these companies, the Nigerian Interbank Settlement System PLC is responsible for payment infrastructure in the country, and we all know in Africa, where Government goes, innovation follows (100 years later!). So infrastructure will always be hard, it requires Capital and African Government (Good luck with that). However, a large number of Third party payment processors are popping up all over the country. Companies like Eyowo, Cash Envoy, Paga, are trying to be the Paypals and Google Checkouts in the country. The people have the entrepreneurial spirit to make things happen, the Government just needs invest or get out of their way so that these companies and others can …………………………Stay Mobile!