International cash payments platform Pipit Global and Cellulant have extended their partnership agreement to now include eighteen countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The partnership will see the companies providing both B2B and B2C payments services to existing and emergent financial institutions, eCommerce merchants, billers and billing platforms, mobile money providers and eWallets, digital financial service providers, and their customers.
Despite the Covid 19 pandemic, remittances into sub-Saharan Africa and intraregional SSA remittances have remained resilient. According to figures from the World Bank there was a modest decline of 1.4% in flows into SSA in 2020 – this figure excludes the exceptional case of Nigeria where economic factors beyond the pandemic affected remittances significantly. And in 2021 remittances have bounced back to near pre-pandemic levels with a year-on-year increase of 6.2% for the region. This resilience demonstrates the fundamental importance of diaspora remittances to sub-Saharan African countries, which exceed Foreign Direct Investment and portfolio flows, and are approaching the levels of Official Development Aid.
However, the cost of remittances into Africa and intra-African remittances remains a significant challenge, a burden on senders and receivers, and a barrier to development. Sub-Saharan Africa continues to have the highest average international remittance costs at 8.2%. Intraregional remittance costs are higher still, with, as an example, the cost of a remittance of $200 dollars between Tanzania and Uganda costing an exorbitant 23%.
Pipit’s and Cellulant’s partnership will see the development of ‘for-purpose’ remittances. Rather than the traditional model of peer-to-peer cash remittances, migrants will be able to make bill payments and e-commerce transactions directly to suppliers. This model ensures that bills are paid, and removes the potential for ‘leakage’ – where remitted money may not be used for its intended purpose. It also reduces the receiver risk associated with cash collection. And, in line with the goal to reduce remittance costs, the direct-to-biller model applies fees significantly lower than traditional remittance prices resulting in meaningful savings for remittance senders and receivers.
Commenting on the partnership, Pipit Global CEO Ollie Walsh said: “Pipit Global was founded on the basis of promoting collaboration in the world of payments. Making cash a core element of the digital economy, whilst maintaining that cash economy and giving the ability to transition between the two, gives real parity and freedom, and ultimately creates the social impact that drives global development and equality. “Our partnership with Cellulant will turn these development and equality goals and aspirations into tangible realities.” The expansion into the new markets comes just 5 months after the two companies announced a partnership to enable remittances into Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mali, Senegal, and Ghana at lower rates.
“At Cellulant, we see digital payments as a significant opportunity to create transformational change for businesses, households and economies at large, ” said David Waithaka, Cellulant’s Chief Business Officer for Enterprise. “International and intraregional remittances are an engine for growth for many economies in Africa providing resilience to financial shocks and improving livelihoods. Enabling lower rates and powering for-purpose remittances for us is about the direct impact on people’s lives.” he added Technology and digital payments have been identified as a driver in reducing transaction costs of remittances to less than 3% by 2030 as outlined in SDG 10 enabling reduced inequalities within and among countries.
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