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Digital Payment Options Can’t Succeed Without Trust—Lawal



Akeem Lawal Interswitch Digital Payment Options

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

One of the things that have had a huge effect on the way human life is technology. It is one tool human has used to make life easier.

From the comfort of one’s home or office, items can be bought on the internet and payments made without having to go to a bank to withdraw cash for the is one of the purchase.

But despite this convenience technology offers, there are some persons who still do things the traditional way and they cannot be blamed.

In this interview, the Divisional CEO of Payments Processing at Interswitch, Mr Akeem Lawal, said stakeholders in the financial technology (fintech) industry must work tirelessly to build trust so as to make the digital payment options to be successful. Excerpts;

The SME sector in Africa is huge. In Nigeria alone, we have over 41 million micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). How important would you say this sector is to the growth and development of the African economy?

The SME sector is a potential game-changer for economic growth, especially in Nigeria. This is why it is important for stakeholders in that sector to provide simple solutions that enhance their ability to generate economic activities that will boost the community and national economy.

At Interswitch, we are committed to providing simple and scalable payment solutions for small and big businesses alike. The Quickteller Business platform is a testament to our commitment to make payments one less thing to worry about for our business users and their customers.

There seems to be a lot of activities within the payment, e-commerce and fintech sectors in recent years, with many new entrants as well as FDIs. What would be your fair assessment of the sectors? What should we expect, going forward?

When accessing the various sectors, we know that the Nigerian economy has been a beneficiary of foreign direct investment inflows since the 1970s. However, there is a need to diversify the Nigerian economy and reduce our dependence on oil. There is no doubt that a thriving industrial sector is pivotal to mass employment, improved skills and better wages, which will lead to a reduction in poverty.

Nigeria’s ICT sector has grown from less than one per cent of GDP in 2001 to almost 10 per cent of GDP today. The country is currently Africa’s biggest technology market and accounts for 23 per cent of internet users in Africa with 122 million people online in December 2018.

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Nigeria has surpassed other countries in sub-Saharan Africa to emerge as a premier tech investment destination with 55 active tech hubs raising a total of $94.9 million, while South Africa raised $60.0 million with 59 active start-ups. The growth of the tech sector offers new possibilities for Nigeria’s growing labour force, in terms of employment and entrepreneurship.

Now, these sectors I have mentioned have found gaps to fill and are offering creative solutions to individuals and companies.

However, despite the fact that there are so many new players in these sectors, there is still so much more to be done.

Take e-commerce, for instance, you will be surprised that a good number of people are still not comfortable buying things online – putting in their card details and trusting that what they ordered is what they will get.

The same goes for other digital payment options like PoS. A lot of people would rather spend hours on ATM queues or travel long distances to get to a bank instead of walking up to a nearby money agent to withdraw or deposit money.

This means that stakeholders need to do more to gain the trust of customers. Everyone wants convenience but people also want to trust that convenience.

You can’t blame someone that has had series of failed/declined transactions at a PoS terminal and is referred back to his/her bank, then spends days and even weeks going back and forth with the bank, to be confident enough to want to make use of that channel again.

In the coming years, there will definitely be more growth in these various sectors, especially fintech. There will still be immense additions to mobile consumptions as two-thirds of the global population are mobile subscribers. There will be more adoption of new technology to grow businesses and create jobs. This adoption will provide data and big data is also quite important for decision making and creating smarter innovations.

I also foresee that more organisations will begin to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to increase efficiency and enhance productivity.

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Recently, Interswitch introduced Quickteller Business, which is an upgrade of Interswitch Webpay. Why was the upgrade necessary?

The upgrade was necessary because the enhanced Quickteller Business platform broadens payment management capabilities for businesses and merchants of all sizes, allowing them to access a wide range of integrated payment offerings, ranging from disbursements to value financing.

Also, upgrading to the Quickteller Business platform enables small businesses, including social media entrepreneurs, to take their businesses online to become completely digital without having to go through the hassles of developing digital capabilities themselves.

With the ease of the Quickteller Business, users can focus on creating economic activities for themselves and their communities. One of the values added for using the Quickteller Business platform is that users are exposed to over five million consumers already using Quickteller for a variety of retail payments in countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, and the Gambia.

What are the add-ons and additional features that came with this upgrade?

We have a lot of add-ons and features, such as:

Storefronts – Quickteller Business allows business owners to create customized branded online store, display product images and videos and gives an incredible mobile experience for customers across all devices.

e-Billing and Invoicing – Quickteller Business enables businesses to automatically generate invoices, accept payments via the payment link embedded in the invoice. The invoice also helps the businesses track their sales.

Split Settlements – With Split Settlement, businesses can instruct Quickteller Business on how transactions should be settled into predefined bank accounts.

Developers (Sandbox) – Quickteller Business enables developers to try out the features of their apps on the platform before they are activated for real transactions.

Multiple Integration Plans – Quickteller Business is customizable and offers multiple integration plans for web and mobile SDKs. Explore Pop Up, Page Redirect and Inline for web developers as well as iOS and Android for Mobile integration options.

Detailed Transaction Reporting – Quickteller Business helps businesses have access to detailed reports of their transactions across all collection channels – Web, POS, QR, USSD.

Dispute Management – With Quickteller Business, businesses of all types and sizes can manage their transaction disputes and chargebacks.

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Refunds – Where required, businesses can seamlessly initiate partial or full refunds from the transaction details page.

Quickteller Business was designed with SMEs in mind. What are the benefits they stand to enjoy by signing on to the platform?

There are lots of benefits for SMEs, although the benefits are also now extended to both SMEs and large corporate business.

First, they enjoy getting paid online without a website; from creating a payment link that is useful and unique for both single purchases and recurring payments. The link can be shared with their customers via WhatsApp, Instagram, email or SMS.

Secondly, it is compatible with all card types – Verve, Visa, Mastercard; all payment channels, QR, USSD and for integrating payments, it is compatible with WordPress, Web and Mobile SDKs.

Third, they will enjoy fast-tracked outstanding payment with digital invoices.  They can generate invoices on the go and get paid from any account via any channel. The invoicing feature has a payment link embedded to help receive payment seamlessly using our multi-payment methods and they can easily track from the portal once payment has been made.

What separates Quickteller Business from the pack?

The Quickteller Business platform is intuitive, robust and secure. Quickteller Business is an innovation and improvement of an already effective platform making it a more tested platform. The platform is built using world-standard fraud management solutions that help mitigate fraudulent transactions.

The Quickteller Business platform exposes its users to a ready market of over 5 million potential customers. The platform gives its users total control over its business, collection and every other thing in between.

What categories of business can sign on to Quickteller Business and how affordable is it for small businesses?

All types of businesses can sign up to the Quickteller Business platform – small businesses, large corporates and individuals. From the platform, businesses and individuals can receive payments from anyone, anywhere and everywhere.

Interestingly, these offers come at no cost. Yes, everything on the Quickteller Business platform is free and if you register your business between now and April 2021, you will also enjoy zero transaction fees.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via

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2021 FOYA Awards Nomination Thrills Chidi Nwaogu



2021 FOYA Awards Chidi Nwaogu

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A serial tech entrepreneur and co-founder of Publiseer and Savvy, Mr Chidi Nwaogu, has been nominated as Techpreneur of the Year at the 2021 FOYA Awards.

The event is an annual awards ceremony since 2016, which was conceived to serve the strategic objective to retain, reward, and recognize high-quality entrepreneurs and SMEs in Africa.

The nomination has thrilled Mr Nwaogu and has expressed optimism of winning the category as Publiseer, a digital content distribution company, has helped over 6,000 underserved African creatives living in low-income and disadvantaged communities to earn a living from the sales of their creative works.

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The platform has been described by Konbini as “one of the largest digital publishers in Africa” and identified by IFC as one of the startups “that could speed up innovation in Africa.”

The nominee is also the co-founder and Head of Program at Savvy, a global fellowship program that has equipped over 3,900 passionate and brilliant young individuals from 136 countries, with the necessary knowledge, skills, resources, tools, and support community that they need to start their own impact-driven business in a post-COVID era and succeed as social entrepreneurs.

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For his works at Publiseer, Mr Nwaogu won the 2020 Migration Entrepreneurship Prize by the Swiss Government, the 2019 Africa 35.35 Award for Entrepreneurship, the 2019 Young Leaders Award for Media and Entertainment, and the 2019 Bizz Business Excellence Award.

He is a 2020 Acumen Fellow (West Africa), 2020 Alibaba eFounders Fellow (China), 2019 Westerwelle Fellow (Germany), 2019 African Presidential Leadership Fellow (Cairo), and 2019 Yunus&Youth Fellow (New York).

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FOYA Awards is designed to recognize and appreciate young founders contributing to the African continent’s economic growth while creating employment and other income-generating opportunities through entrepreneurship, thereby inspiring others to be founders in their own right.

The platform has developed into a convening agent for actors in the youthful entrepreneurship ecosystem attracting and stewarding access to relevant investors, not-for-profit leaders, influential personalities, and government officials to address everyday challenges and devise impactful, lasting solutions.

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Study Shows 70% of Nigerian Businesses Unaware of Privacy Laws



privacy laws

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A recent survey conducted by WorldWideWorx and commissioned by a global technology company, Zoho, has revealed that 70 per cent of Nigerian businesses are unaware of privacy laws governing their marketing activities.

This is despite the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) being in effect since 2019. The survey also revealed that even though businesses are concerned about the privacy of customer’s data in the hands of third-party vendors, they are reliant on them for revenue generation and gathering customer insights. This makes it harder for them to move away.

The CEO of WorldWideWorx, Mr Arthur Goldstuck, said the lack of awareness about the law is largely because these regulations are not part of business-critical activities like taxation and licensing.

However, he noted that 78 per cent of the businesses indicated that they have well-documented policies for customer data protection.

“This is likely following fear of NDPR violation, which has made headlines in Nigeria, even so, only 60 per cent are strictly applying them,” said Mr Goldstuck.

Third-Party Trackers and Ad Platforms

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Of the 319 businesses surveyed across various industries and sizes, 45 per cent said they allow third-party trackers on their website, mostly for sharing content on social media (62 per cent) and gathering analytics on their website visitors (35 per cent).

There is also heavy dependence on digital ad platforms. The respondents believe that keyword search ads (59 per cent) and social media ads (52 per cent) are quite effective for customer conversion.

In fact, 78 per cent of businesses said the third-party ad platforms either help them meet or are a primary factor in achieving their sales goals.

Given this reliance on third-party vendors, it is no wonder then that, even though 85 per cent of businesses express concern over the use of their customer’s data, they are largely either ‘comfortable’ or ‘neither comfortable nor uncomfortable’ with the platforms.

Even the 18 per cent who are ‘uncomfortable’, state that they cannot move away from the platforms as they are crucial to their business or that it is too complex to move away.

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Interestingly, 24 per cent of businesses reported that they do not completely understand how third-party trackers and ad platforms utilise the collected customer information.

“When businesses choose to use a free tracker, they are paying for it with their consumer’s data,” said Andrew Bourne, Regional Manager for Africa, Zoho. “At Zoho, we refer to this practice of third-party trackers collecting data without user knowledge as adjunct surveillance. Presently, Nigerian businesses turn a blind eye to this passive data collection by trackers, most likely, because they are dependent on them for revenue.

“However, consumers will eventually trust companies with transparent privacy policies that protect their personal information. Businesses hoping to stay relevant in the long term will need to either rethink their reliance on third-party platforms or demand greater transparency and accountability from them.”

Zoho had removed third-party trackers from its website in 2020 and has never sold customer data to anyone or shown ads, even in their free products.

Zoho also owns its data centres and the entire technology stack of its solutions. It can, therefore, assure its users of the highest standards of privacy and security.

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Nigerian businesses believe that NDPR has had either no effect (39 per cent) or a positive effect (42 per cent). Their biggest concerns with the law are increased complexity (36 per cent) and the increased cost of governance (34 per cent). As per Mr Goldstuck, the cost of governance will be a major concern for SMEs.

For context, all businesses in Nigeria (regardless of size) need to appoint a privacy/information officer to oversee the protection of customer information.

Larger businesses can appoint their CIOs or IT leads in this new role, while smaller businesses may have to appoint their managing directors or business owners in the same role.

For smaller businesses, in particular, this can be a daunting task as the person in charge can be held personally liable for data leaks or breaches as per the law.

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Truecaller Rolls Out SMS Filter Feature




By Adedapo Adesanya

The world’s most trusted and accurate Caller ID and telephone search engine, Truecaller, is rolling out a new feature called Smart SMS to further augment the user experience.

It has been introduced based on user feedback and is designed to cater to the evolving needs of our consumers and the new feature offers a host of new services to make day-to-day communication a lot more convenient.

It is powered by state-of-the-art machine learning models that adapt based on the feedback given to it and supports users with important messages from banks, billers, travel companies, delivery companies and so much more.

Smart SMS also helps users stay protected from spam and fraud. Only the essential information within an SMS is highlighted and all SMS messages are categorised and easily accessible.

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Truecaller noted that from keeping track of users expenses to last-minute changes to your travel, Smart SMS is the future of SMS that will make life a whole lot easier.

Commenting on the new addition, Mr Zakaria Abdulkadir Hersi, Director of Business Development & Partnerships Africa at Truecaller said: “Roughly 80% of SMSes one receives daily are from businesses, disengaging users from important/useful messages. To combat that, SMS apps need to become smarter by filtering out spam and categorising useful information.

“At Truecaller, we constantly strive to offer the best user experience by adding unique features that fit in with our core mission: to make communication safer and more efficient for everyone.

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“Truecaller has evolved into a powerful communication hub and for the people who wish to use the app to its fullest, we want to streamline the experience as much as possible for an efficient calling and messaging experience for our end user.”

Truecaller uses the same powerful algorithms used to identify spam callers in SMS as well. The SMS intelligence is built into the app itself and it can work offline – nothing leaves your device, including all OTPs, bank SMSes and financial information.

The feature also offers a Smart Inbox that identifies unknown SMS sender numbers and SMS sender IDs are resolved to business names with logos.

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Truecaller helps users know who’s getting in touch by providing a search engine for telephone numbers, filtering out unwanted calls and SMS and focusing on what really matters.

The company provides services such as a dialer that offers caller ID, spam detection, messaging & more. Truecaller’s mission is to build trust everywhere by making communication safe & efficient.

Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, the company was founded in 2009 by Alan Mamedi & Nami Zarringhalam. Investors include Sequoia Capital, Atomico & Kleiner Perkins.

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