Goott: Competitive Pricing Key in Payments Industry

The Director for Africa, Unlimint, Mr. Trevor Goott, speaks about the growth of African payment solutions and Fintech industry, highlighting some of the factors that have contributed to such growth, as well as projections and trends that will shape the ecosystem this year. Emma Okonji presents the excerpts:

The year 2022 was regarded as one of severe economic contraction, hyperinflation, and an increase in the expense of life. What impact do you anticipate the payment ecosystem will have on this narrative in 2023?

The payment ecosystem is dynamic. It can adapt to changes fairly quickly. This is in part due to the innovative Fintech and payment companies that operate within the system, and the regulations surrounding it. The narrative of 2022 described in your question, should have a positive impact on the payments ecosystem, especially for the end-users.

In order to stimulate business growth after a dismal 2022, consumers can expect more competitive pricing within the payments ecosystem, which leads to cost savings, and ultimately, more affordability for the customer. A payment ecosystem needs transactions to run along its network, and if this slows down, due to the past macroeconomic problems of 2022, then more competitive pricing is one way to promote transactions on the payments system.

New credit or ‘buy now pay later’ products within the payments ecosystem system will emerge and this will facilitate and stimulate online sales. The payment ecosystem is therefore launching products to help facilitate online e-commerce growth in 2023.

In my opinion, the impact will be positive for customers.

In the same vein, the payments sector went through a transitional era that fueled intense industry consolidation in 2022. What are some of the major trends that the industry will follow in 2023?

Consistency will be a key trend in payments for 2023. Payment providers who offer a consistent experience, with a good product, competitive pricing, good customer service, and an easy-to-use interface, will continue to grow. There is no need to reinvent the wheel in the sector. Just deliver more-of-the-same for 2023 and the cream among the payment providers should rise to the top.

As the Director of Africa at Unlimint, a payment solutions’ company set to launch its operations in Nigeria, what are your strategies for partnering stakeholders in the financial services industry in identifying and aggregating local and international alternative payment methods?

Unlimint is quick to offer all the local relevant payment methods. We currently have over 1,000 payment methods globally. Our local teams constantly seek out new and up and coming payment methods, and then add that payment method to our portfolio. We do not limit ourselves in terms of payment methods – we are dynamic in that respect. Our strategy is quite simple – and that is to keep current and relevant. We can identify a new payment method and have it ready for launch on our platform within a matter of weeks if required. If our customers demand it, we will offer it.

What are your views about the CBN’s position on the naira’s redesign, and how will it affect the country’s level of financial inclusion?

In general, I think it is a good move by the CBN, but it will not be without its detractors. The CBN has been working for many years towards a cashless society, and there were some difficulties along the way. This move in effect is forcing all the holders of cash to bring their money back into the system.

A large portion of the Nigerian population is unbanked for various reasons. They prefer to keep their cash on hand and transact in cash. A lot of this has to do with a lack of understanding or trust in the banking system – but with a robust Nigerian banking sector, this lack of trust is not necessarily valid. By forcing these unbanked people to now interact with a financial institution, they can see for themselves how simple the banking system works and how it can be trusted.

Further, with a huge agency banking network across Nigeria, access to cash in the future is still available, albeit with new notes. I would believe that many of these unbanked people will open bank accounts for the first time and will actually choose to keep their funds in their bank account and earn interest – something not possible if they keep their cash at home.

Africa is witnessing continued growth in digital services, payment solutions and super apps, and it is anticipated that the financial sector will continue to expand this year. What is your take on this?

I agree completely with that. There is a move away from cash, driven largely by governments. Yet transactions still need to take place. Therefore online payments, digital services and super apps will continue to grow. The only question is how quickly. The two key drivers of this growth are the rate at which a country moves towards a cashless country, and the rate at which new businesses and service companies move online or add an e-commerce channel to their existing off-line business.

There are several causes for the low level of confidence in Fintechs. Many Africans simply don’t feel at ease using technology. Another factor is the inherent human fear of the unknown. Individuals still have a tendency to trust well-known financial services organisations more than their Fintech competitors. So how do companies like Unlimint build a strong reputation across the continent?

I believe that the only way to secure a strong reputation in the Fintech industry is by being consistent in the provision of a stable, secure and efficient level of service to customers, while also educating the audience on the best way. It is natural for people to fear the unknown and financial topics can seem complicated to most. However, by building a transparent and trustworthy relationship with clients and by providing the required level of information on the topic, these uncertainties can be eliminated.

At Unlimint we pride ourselves on implementing the highest security standards in the industry into our products to ensure that our customers are protected from all sides. We have been delivering innovative financial solutions to merchants worldwide for more than 13 years now and hold local acquiring licenses in regions of presence, including here in Nigeria. Our mass of experience, high level of service, in-house developed innovative payments infrastructure and vast portfolio of directly integrated payment methods have all played a role in the fact that we are trusted by thousands of clients around the globe and we believe that that is exactly what will help us build a trustworthy relationship with our local clients in Africa.

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