In 2014 during the Deloitte Technology Africa Fast 50 initiative awards, Nigerian payments company Interswitch emerged the top. The award recognizes 50 fastest growing technology companies in Africa. Rankings are based on percentage revenue growth over five years. Interswitch beat competition from among others Techno Brain of Kenya. The awards were a culmination of 13 years of innovation, where since inception Interswitch has managed to propel itself to an eminent payments company in Africa
With its main market being in Nigeria, Interswitch has managed to impact virtually all sectors of the Nigerian economy from oil and gas to banking and even Nollywood, the much famed film industry. Interswitch ascent in the Nigerian market begun with the opening of Nigerian’s first central transaction switch. The central switch has allowed consumers to make transactions in e-Commerce, e-Banking and even ATMS. Interswitch later ventured into electronic payments.
So what has been the impact of Interswitch on Platforms in Africa?
In an interview with CNBC following the entry of Interswitch into the Kenyan market, Interswitch CEO Mitchell Elegbe said Interswitch sees itself as an enabler of local payments. This means the firm is continually investing in solutions geared towards the African market with solutions keen on impacting the local African users. Its expansion strategy both in West Africa and recently East Africa has been well calculated through acquisition of companies with the intent of driving innovation in payments.
Its impact has especially been huge in the Nigerian market, where it has launched among others the Verve Card, a prepaid debit card as Nigeria’s first chip and pin card. The Verve card has become widely accepted with over 20 Million Verve cards users in Nigeria besides being used by major banks in West Africa. The card recently launched in Kenya with a partnership with KCB Bank in Kenya expected to see the card roll out further. Intuitive exchange has been one of Interswitch’s main selling points seeking to create a framework of financial technology that is bold, simple and contemporary thus allowing anyone and anybody in the African continent to make payments independent of the platform. Case in point has been the launch of Verve World app that allows customers to withdraw cash from ATM terminals and make payments on POS terminals using their smart phones with a useful feature called Paycode despite not having ATMs with them. With the growth of E-Commerce and online payments, Interswitch is again positioning itself at the fore front of this revolution through offering web gateways to be used by users.
In our next series we shall cover Switching and how Interswitch’s Switch has impacted industries in Africa.