Driven by Continuous Innovation, Remita Consolidates Top Fintech Position

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Peter Uzoho writes that Remita’s e-payment has ensured transparency in the system
SystemSpecs, through its product, Remita, was already pushing the barriers of traditional banking and leveraging technology to deliver superior financial services to corporates and individuals in Nigeria long before the explosion of now famous fintech startups. The company, which currently occupies an enviable position in Nigeria’s Fintech space, began in 1991, when John Obaro, a solution-driven software titan, decided against all odds to set up a company that will help other companies solve problems associated with managing resources: people, data and finances.

At that time, most business organisations in Nigeria were compelled to use foreign-made softwares to simplify their business processes, but most of them struggled with the complexity of use as the software products were unsuited for their peculiar needs. It was in this dark and confused situation that SystemSpecs was borne. It started as a B2B company selling custom-made human resource software to organisations and in time, it grew to develop solutions to meet the payment needs of indigenous businesses. Today, SystemSpecs product, Remita, has garnered several honours and awards globally.

SystemSpecs’ first software brand – HumanManager became a pioneer in employee self-service and HR management. This software which simplifies payroll, HR Management and goal management operations launched in 2004 and enjoyed wide acceptance with over 200 organisations across Africa using it. HumanManager was described by the Nigerian media as Nigeria’s most successful software yet, having passed through a world class automated Quality Assurance test.
Obaro revealed that it was during the deployment of HumanManager for a multinational organisation that there came a demand to include automated end-to-end functions to cover payments of salaries, tax deductions, remittance of pensions, vendor payments and other payment solutions. This took the SystemSpecs team back to the drawing board to create a software to meet e- payment needs, hence, the birth of Remita.

In 2006, Remita was launched to the world as the first indigenous payment solution platform in Nigeria. With conscious evolvement and continued innovation, traditional competitors have not been able to deliver the breadth of services, nor the reliability, that Remita consistently provides in Nigeria.

Remita’s big break came when it was adopted for the implementation of the Nigeria’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) which proved to be a complex project of gargantuan proportions. The need for a software to simplify the complexity was primary and having used a foreign-made software to no avail, the Central Bank of Nigeria wrote to the office of the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) to get an alternative electronic payment solution. A prolonged search led them to invite SystemSpecs to pitch the Remita software as a possible e-payment platform for the TSA.

Today, the story of how Remita has aided the fight against corruption with its brilliant execution of the TSA account is a laudable one. Remita has made it possible for government to consolidate its diverse accounts into a single account as TSA implementation demands. Remita is used for payment and collections of funds on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria by all commercial banks and over 500 microfinance banks.

Remita provides intelligent and real-time data on the state of finances, which aids in constructive decision making. For instance, The federal government has several Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) which prior to this time had thousands of accounts across various banks. This made financial accountability near-impossible, but with the Remita powered TSA, the government now has good information about the position of funds seated in its treasury, coming from each MDA, thereby allowing for easy detection of discrepancies and a timely intervention to curb them.

The smooth running of the TSA by Remita has significantly reduced the level of fraud in government operations in Nigeria. It has blocked loopholes and enabled accountability for funds that would otherwise have been embezzled. It has given government a broad spectrum of auditory powers and mandated the culture of financial responsibility by providing a view of who paid what, to whom and at what time. Also, the federal government announced that it has continued to save up N24.7 billion monthly because of TSA. At the end of March 2018, the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris revealed that the TSA account had recorded an inflow of over N8.9 trillion of government revenue. Also, over 17,000 accounts in commercial banks where public funds were stashed to generate profit for individuals have been closed. It is this success with Remita and the TSA that has prompted the governments of three African countries to explore the adoption of this e-payment solution in their working processes to enable accountability and financial responsibility in their administrations.

In its September 2016 Report, global research firm McKinsey stated that e-payment solutions such as Remita are key to the growth of modern economies and will empower individuals, businesses and governments to carry out financial transactions cheaply and more efficiently. It projected that by 2025, these platforms will boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of emerging economies by a whopping $3.7 trillion and drive financial inclusion.

Today, Remita is used by individuals and private organisations to process over $30 billion worth of transactions annually. Remita boasts of a large clientele in the private sector such as Accenture, Akintola Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Meristem Securities, Guinness, Main One, Seplat, Swift and Olashore International Schools. Also Access bank has recently partnered with Remita to power the Access Bank Payday Advance scheme which is a lifestyle product offering loans to salary earners to fulfil urgent financial obligations. With its cross network of banks and ability to link them to each other and CBN, Remita can ensure that customers can get their loans without going to the bank and pay back on time as the loan is upon agreement, deducted from the salary account of the customer.
Just like Microsoft Office, Remita comes with a complete suite. Remita e-Payment platform delivers payment instructions to accounts in any Commercial Bank, Microfinance Bank, Primary Mortgage Institution or Digital Wallet, while Remita e-Invoicing provides billers with a powerful tool for managing invoices, empowering them to uniquely identify transactions from initiation right through to consummation. Remita e-Collection empowers subscribers to receive payments from customers anywhere in the country through multiple channels. Also, Remita Payroll & HR is suitable for an organisation with 2-200,000 employees and is a powerful and comprehensive Payroll and Human Resource Management solution which can compute staff allowances, loans, pensions, taxes, overtime allowances and more at the click of a button.

In 2012, Remita was awarded the Outstanding Public Service Product of the Year by Financial Technology Africa Magazine; it was recognised as the Most Outstanding Software Solution at the NITMA awards in 2015; in April 2016, it was declared the Most Efficient e-Revenue Service at the CBN Cashless Card Expo and it emerged the Best Software Solution of the Year at the Nigeria Telecoms Awards. It also won the Pan-African Software Solution of the Year at the Titans of Tech awards and the most Innovative Mobile Payment Solution of the Year at the DigitalPay Expo Awards 2017. SystemSpecs bagged the software company of the year for the second time at the 9th edition of the yearly Beacon of Information and Communications Technology (BoICT) awards with its founder John Obaro nominated as the Man of the year. SystemSpecs has also won the most innovative e-payment company at the BusinessDay top 25 most innovative companies and institutions award. Most recently, SystemSpecs was shortlisted in the ‘Top Fintech Innovation’ category for Remita, by the organisers of PayTech Award, a platform which recognises excellence and innovation in the use of IT in the finance and payment industry worldwide.

The Remita app which is the mobile version of Remita software is available on Google Play Store and iOS and allows for an online and real-time tracking and monitoring of payments irrespective of the payment channel used. Remita mobile app enables individuals to aggregate personal account information from different banks on a single screen and make payments through multiple payment interfaces such as the business’ website, internet banking, PoS, credit or debit cards and any bank branch. Also, transactions could be tracked allowing for real-time accountability and convenience of use.

The PWC 2017 FinTech Survey Report posits that over 62% of customers will use mobile applications to access financial services within the next 5 years. This Remita mobile app speaks volume of SystemSpecs’ viability and continued innovation in the FinTech space. It is this trend that SystemSpecs envisioned 26 years ago and sought to carve a niche by leaving indelible footprints in its search for innovation. At present, SystemSpecs continues to set the pace for other indigenous payment solutions having developed the most robust software platform to manage finances in Africa’s biggest economy.