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For several decades, the African continent has been bedevilled with low intra-trade volumes when compared to other parts of the world, and this has consequently hampered the growth of the African economy. To address this challenge, African countries came together to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to increase, strengthen and deepen intra-trade among African countries.

The establishment of the AfCFTA created the opportunity for a single market for the trade of goods and services on the continent, thereby increasing the level of intra-trade. The enactment of AfCFTA is expected to birth the largest free trade area in the world, measured by the number of countries participating, potentially connecting 1.3 billion people across 55 countries.

Financial experts believe that the establishment of AfCFTA has created a window of opportunities for financial institutions to close the gap between financially excluded persons and design cross-border financial products that will avail customers of seamless and safe financial services.

Consistent with its aspirations to build a prosperous African economy and make payment one less thing to worry about in Africa, Africa’s leading integrated payments and digital commerce company, Interswitch, has introduced a plethora of innovative products and solutions designed to transform the African economy as well as boost the continent’s digital payment ecosystem.

The firm made this known during its first breakfast session in Sierra Leone, where it hosted stakeholders and customers to a robust and insightful session designed to help Sierra Leonean businesses thrive. The firm organized the event to discuss how African businesses can leverage digital payments to unlock endless opportunities and drive growth in the financial industry.

Speaking at the breakfast session, Olubunmi Aina, Group Head Sales, Payment Processing and Switching (Interswitch Purepay), said the firm is committed to building a prosperous African economy by designing innovative cross-border payment products and solutions that will enable the growth of businesses in Sierra Leone and beyond.

He said, “For the last two decades, we have consistently designed products that address financial issues within the payment ecosystem. We equally have been facilitating payment, building infrastructure, and providing world-class technologies and support that aid financial institution to deliver top-notch services to their customers.

He further said, “We are here in Sierra Leone to replicate the successes we have attained in other parts of Africa by providing the Sierra Leone market with secure and safe digital payments products to further drive growth and profitability for businesses.”

Reiterating experts’ opinion that without a functional and effective payment system, Africa will not be able to facilitate international and regional trade, Interswitch introduced five products to the august audience at the breakfast session. The products; Postilion Retail Payment, Interswitch Banking-as-a- Service; Interswitch Payment-as-a-Service; Agency Banking and Card Fusion are designed to address prevailing issues within the ecosystem and offer; protection against digital payment fraud, effective value financing tools for lenders, seamless integration to newer payment channels and enhance business development.

While the products are targeted at commercial banks, microfinance banks, fintechs, other financial institutions, and their customers, they will essentially improve the digital payment solutions that financial institutions offer to their customers.

To demonstrate the ease of onboarding, participants at the session were onboarded onto the company’s products, thereby enabling them to rapidly integrate newer payment channels with intuitive and flexible technologies.

Beyond the benefits the products avail customers, the firm organised the breakfast session in Sierra Leone to bring key players in the financial industry together with the ultimate goal of deepening the growth of digital payment in the country.

Aina noted that Interswitch is committed to the advancement of digital payments in Africa and will continue to drive cross-border payments, financial inclusion and payment interoperability through its innovative products and solutions.

If Africa is to actualize the expected domestic e-payments revenue growth of about approximately 20 per cent per year, reaching around $40 billion by 2025, it is imperative that the players within the ecosystem advance digital payment on the continent and lower the cost of cross-border payments.

Interswitch, as Africa’s leading digital payment company, has taken on the challenge and is ensuring that critical markets across Africa, such as Sierra Leone, are provided with alternative payment methods with the introduction of its products. The technology company on the strength of its technical capabilities is providing payment infrastructure to financial institutions to reduce friction and boost integration. Its innovative products are ensuring that the rapidly evolving consumer payment needs are consistently met and even surpassed.

Interswitch is not just a proponent of seamless and convenient payment solutions; the firm has for 20 years consistently been leveraging technology to drive growth and prosperity for Africans across Africa.

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