Africa’s payment systems move towards modernisation

Published: June 28, 2018

Banking the unbanked isn’t possible without the right underlying architecture. In a recent workshop, BankservAfrica highlighted how various African countries are redesigning their payments systems.  

On 20 June, the 25th SWIFT African Regional Conference (SWIFT Arc 2018) kicked off in Kigali, Rwanda. With more than 500 attendees from 40 African countries, the conference focused on innovation, technology and the future of financial services.

One of the highlights was a National Payments Workshop, hosted by BankservAfrica. Asking what tomorrow’s payments systems might look like, the workshop followed on from a similar event in 2017. It discussed the payments infrastructure across Africa and explored what has taken place over the past 12 months.

 “At last year’s conference, BankservAfrica started the conversation on the need for a national payments design for enabling modernised economies while addressing socio-economic issues such as financial inclusion,” Chris Hamilton, CEO of BankservAfrica, told EMEA Finance before the conference. “At this year’s workshop we hope to share feedback on our progress as well as the insights gained from our various engagements.” 

As the largest automated payments clearing house in South Africa, BankservAfrica processes billions of transactions each year. The company facilitates interoperability between the banks – speeding up interbank payments and providing services for 52 million people in South Africa. 

Last year, it embarked on a joint research initiative with the Payments Association of South Africa (PASA) to find out how different countries are managing their low-value, high-volume payments. As the world becomes ever more digital, existing payments systems are feeling the strain, spurring widespread system redesigns. South Africa is no exception. 

“Our research shows that all over the world, in most developed and underdeveloped economies, the payments infrastructure is being rebuilt,” says Hamilton. “The public policy and commercial objectives vary from country to country. But a key finding was that a modernised payments system is critical to providing a platform from which all stakeholders can discuss the future of a shared electronic payments infrastructure and ecosystem in South Africa. Also, that this needs to be built and mobilised collaboratively.”

African challenge

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