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Building a Secure Digital Economy: Africa needs modernized payment systems

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By Elvis Eromosele 

Payment is the fulcrum of human interaction. And like everything else, it is constantly changing. The move from barter to commodity money was followed by currency, and we are today in the realm of digital payments.

It is clear that to go forward, efforts must now be geared towards modernizing the payment infrastructure across the African continent. This is imperative to promote innovation, drive economic growth, and help the continent gain a competitive edge.

Today, Africa stands at the cusp of a digital revolution, and the need to enhance the inclusivity and integrity of digital payments cannot be overstated. This transformation is not just about integrating new technologies but about simplifying processes, increasing trust, and ensuring the availability and reliability of payment systems.

Africa may well be at a critical juncture in the journey of digital transformation, an inflection point. To underscore the significance assertion, two forums in June arrived at the same conclusion.

The first was the Digital PayExpo 2024 by Intermarc Consulting with the theme ‘Redefining Payment’. It was followed by Interswitch’s ACI Worldwide Customer Engagement event tagged ‘Modernizing Digital Payment Infrastructure for Innovation, Growth, and Commercial Advantage.’

Both sessions essentially concluded that the rapid proliferation of digital technologies has opened new avenues for financial inclusion, allowing more people to participate in the global economy.

However, this potential can only be realized if digital payment infrastructures are modernized to meet the demands of today’s fast-paced, interconnected world.

The place to start is building trust through availability. Trust is the cornerstone of any financial system. For digital payments to gain widespread acceptance, they must be reliable and available at all times.

Experts argued that the trust quotient in digital payments is directly proportional to their availability. When users can depend on payment systems to function without fail, their confidence in digital transactions increases. This is a fact.

Of course, modernizing payment infrastructure also involves implementing robust systems that ensure high availability.

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This means reducing downtime, minimizing transaction failures, and providing seamless user experiences. Financial institutions must, as a matter of urgency, invest in technologies such as cloud computing, blockchain, and artificial intelligence to create resilient and scalable payment systems.

The second thing would be to simplify the user experience. At the heart of digital transformation is the goal of simplification. Complex and cumbersome payment processes deter users and hinder the adoption of digital financial services. To drive growth, it is essential to simplify these processes, making them intuitive and user-friendly.

Innovations such as contactless payments, mobile wallets, and real-time transaction processing are examples of how simplification can enhance the user experience. By reducing the friction in payment processes, businesses can attract more users and facilitate smoother transactions.

Another way to boost the adoption of digital payments is by ensuring transaction integrity. Those who should know insist that one of the major challenges in digital payments is maintaining transaction integrity.

Issues such as fraud, data breaches, and identity theft can undermine user trust and disrupt the financial ecosystem. As digital transactions increase, so does the need for robust security measures.

The way forward, of course, involves implementing advanced encryption technologies, multi-factor authentication, and blockchain can help ensure the integrity of digital transactions. These technologies provide a secure framework that protects user data and prevents unauthorized access, thereby bolstering trust in digital payment systems.

Furthermore, everyone, from regulatory agencies to players, must consider digital transformation as the path to unprecedented growth. In truth, digital transformation is more than just a trend; it is a pathway to unprecedented growth.

By modernizing payment infrastructure, businesses can unlock new opportunities for expansion and innovation. Digital payments enable faster, more efficient transactions, reducing operational costs and increasing profitability.

Moreover, digital payment systems facilitate global commerce by breaking down geographical barriers. Businesses can reach new markets and customer segments, driving revenue growth and enhancing their competitive advantage.

The adoption of digital payments also promotes financial inclusion, bringing underserved populations into the formal economy and driving socio-economic development.

The experts are in agreement; modernizing digital payment infrastructure is a critical step towards fostering innovation, driving growth, and gaining commercial advantage. So, as Africa navigates the inflection point of digitalization, it is essential to focus on building trust through availability, simplifying user experiences, and ensuring transaction integrity.

Evidently, by embracing digital transformation, businesses can not only enhance their operational efficiency but also contribute to a more inclusive and secure financial ecosystem. The future of payments is digital, and the time to act is now!

  • Eromosele, a corporate communication professional and public affairs analyst, wrote via: elviseroms@gmail.com.

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