SystemSpecs, has said that small and medium-sized businesses need to adopt electronic payments in order to scale up. According to Demola Igbalajobi, the Managing Director of SystemSpecs Technology, a SystemSpecs subsidiary, the role played by electronic payments in the growth and success of SMEs in Africa cannot be overemphasised. Igalajobi was speaking during a panel session tagged ‘Navigating the Challenges of Payment Gateways: What’s the way out for SMEs ,’ at the 2022 Lagos Leather Fair, held recently in Lagos. The Lagos Leather Fair is an initiative that seeks to showcase West Africa’s leading leather brands. Prominent guests at the event include the honourable Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo; Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Alitheia Capital, Tokunboh Ishameal; Senior Manager, Intra-African Trade Initiative, AFREXIM Bank, Temwa Gondwe; and Executive Director, FATE Foundation, Adenike Adeyemi, amongst several others.
The conversation in the panel session was designed to unravel, discuss and highlight the causes of the pressing issues that SMEs face with effectively conducting cross-border business transactions; as well as to educate audiences on the dynamics of the ever-evolving digital payments space. “For the African market, one thing that has happened over the last few years is the recognition that we have to solve the problems the African way for Africans. For businesses the first thing is to go online and get payment gateways that allow you transact internationally,” said Igbalajobi. “Over the next few months, you will see more financial institutions and more payment gateways that allow you the option to transfer and pay seamlessly internationally.” According to Igbalajobi, these intra-African transactions will get easier with time as more payment gateways connect and connect with banks. Already, eight banks have come onstream for the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPPS). The technology expert also touted Nigeria as having currently one of the most advanced payment systems in the world.
“What other countries are celebrating today, we had done it in Nigeria over 10 years ago. The fintech ecosystem in Nigeria is so advanced that we now have unicorns.” Describing how intra-African payment systems work, Igbalajobi said “The whole idea is that, from your payment gateway, you should be able to see who you are paying to in the next country. This can only be possible if the payment gateway also facilitates currency exchange seamlessly. You don’t need what is happening between naira and other currencies. Just log in and carry out your transaction. The infrastructure is already there. It is about ease, it is about access.” Lastly, the tech expert urged African SMEs to maximise the advantage of electronic payment systems. “As an SME, you need to plug into electronic payment systems. It is difficult for you to scale without this advantage.”