This was the consensus of experts who spoke at the recent Second Annual Conference of the Committee of Heads of e-Banking Industry (CeBIH) in Calabar, Cross Rivers State.
Daniel Monehin, division president, Sub-Sahara Africa, Mastercard Worldwide; Emmanuel Obaigbona, deputy director, banking and payment systems, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Ade Shonubi, managing director, Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) posited that the strategic agenda should incorporate a programme of incentives for electronic payment usage; a balancing of co-operation with competition, massive education and enlightenment.
Other speakers included Pedro Hipolito, general manager, SIBS International, Libson , Portugal ; Martin Holloway, VP, Sales Africa & Middle East NEMEA, VeriFone U.K; Agada Apochi, managing director, Unified Payment Systems Limited; Amit Wohl, EMEA channel manager, Trusteer, USA ; Sam Kolajo, Enterprise Logistics; Victor Ajua, country manager, DataGroup IT.
They argued that the expansion of service offerings on electronic payment channels, especially Point of Sale (PoS) terminals, a business approach to electronic payments, and full adoption of electronic payments by the government, should be part of the deliberate efforts to enhance e-payment systems.
The focus of discussion at the CeBIH conference, was “Developing a market structure that works: Challenges and Prospects for the Nigerian Payment System”.
Obaigbona and Shonubi in their presentations, said that while there are still a lot of challenges in the quest to move the country from cash to electronic payments, there have been significant achievements, especially in the deployment of electronic payment channels like ATMs, Internet, PoS and electronic money transfer. They observed that the improvement made, was the product of collaboration among stakeholders, and that to consolidate on this, requires collaboration.
According to Shonubi, “Developing a Nigerian payment system that works, requires unbiased regulation and oversight over the financial system practitioners by the regulatory authorities and collaboration between major stakeholders in the e-payment value chain.
“CeBIH needs to get more involved and should set industry targets with NIBSS which they both should work towards on a recurrent basis”, he added.
Obaigbona also made a case for collaboration, saying “The cashless policy was primarily aimed at enthroning electronic payment. “And we are making progress, but we need ideas from this group. We are supposed to come together because CBN encourages collaboration. We need to hear from you.
“You are the experts on electronic payment. It is from your own perspectives that a lot of things happen. You tell us your own views, we look at them, and we invite you to discuss, and we would be able to come up with something for the industry.”
In his welcome remarks, Chuma Ezirim, CeBIH chairman, said that while collaboration was needed to set standards and build infrastructure to reduce costs for the industry, there was however need to balance co-operation with competition. He said, “Centrally-agreed common features can sometimes hamper product and/or service differentiation and innovation at the individual service provider level. A key question is what factors the authorities and key stakeholders should consider in balancing co-operation and competition in retail payment systems”.
He observed that while it was the responsibility of Central Banks to provide oversight and regulatory functions to deal with conflicts of interest and balance co-operation and competition in order to achieve optimal availability and affordability of payment instruments, the CBN should not unduly interfere in the provision of electronic payment access services in the country.
Daniel Monehin of Mastercard and Martin Holloway in their presentations made suggestions on how to facilitate acceptance of electronic payment channels especially PoS.