Payments have traditionally been a challenge for African businesses and their banks. Businesses must work with a huge number of partners, for instance, to handle the many forms of payments that customers use, as each nation favors a distinct set of options. Card payments, where banks excel, have extremely little penetration, which is a problem for banks given the size of the unbanked population and the popularity of mobile money. In a continent where merchants and consumers are increasingly shifting to digital payment channels, banks and other financial service providers (FSIs) need to find ways to modernize their payments infrastructure.
Fintech companies on the other hand are disrupting this payments landscape by revolutionizing how consumers are accessing financial services. By collaborating with fintech companies, legacy financial institutions can leverage their technology to remain competitive in a now digital-first landscape whereas fintech can tap into the laid structures to expand their reach. “The payment ecosystem is very complex. Banks and fintech need to collaborate to be successful. That’s how we will be able to facilitate greater levels of financial inclusivity across income levels.” reiterated Faith Nkatha Gitonga, Cellulant’s Country Manager in Kenya, speaking at the Africa Fintech Summit, which was held at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Upperhill Nairobi and organized by Dx5 (formerly CIO Africa).
She cited the recent partnership between Cellulant and Grey Finance which enables customers to conveniently receive international payments in local currency using mobile money as a prime example of how partnerships open up efficient and seamless transactions for thousands of people on the continent. She also revealed that the ability to integrate mobile money and bank transfers within the African continent is the major value proposition Cellulant offers to partners like Grey.
She affirmed that Cellulant believes that abundant opportunities exist in the payment space in Africa as the continent is still not a cashless economy yet. “There are still cash-heavy industries like the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry which provide a lot of opportunities for entrepreneurs to innovate and provide relevant and appropriate payment solutions. “Even in Kenya, which has one of the highest levels of financial inclusion, only about 50-60% of our transactions are digital; in other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa this is typically 30% or lower.”
Cellulant views fintech partnerships as a means to support the financial inclusion and growth of not only individual businesses but Africa’s economy as a whole. Faith touched on Cellulant’s evolution over the years, from a digital content business to mobile and digital banking and now to a digital payment solution provider. “Customer delight is what differentiates Cellulant from the other players in the market. We strive for excellence and the best outcomes when serving our customers across our 35 markets.” Faith pointed out. “This is a culture that was instilled into our staff by the founders from the early days.”
She affirmed this laser focus on the customer is the main reason why leading brands across different sectors such as aviation, telecommunications, e-commerce, food, and beverage services, ride-hailing apps, retail, and remittance trust Cellulant to power their payments. “We are committed to making sure that they are well taken care of and satisfied with the services we provide. We like to say that ‘when you follow the customer, you follow the money ’ Over the years, we have been innovating because we want to be at the heart of what the customer is feeling and wants. We always want to be ahead of that.”
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