BusinessDay

How adopting NQR Code can transform Nigeria’s payments system

In the wake of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic, the Universal QR code payment systems became more prominent and acceptable globally and further underscored the need to adopt innovative payment methods to significantly reduce human contact in payment processes.

The launch of the New Quick Response (NQR) payment solution code, an innovative payment platform implemented on behalf of all financial service providers on March 16, 2021, by the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS) in partnership with the Nigeria Financial Industry, therefore constituted one of the seamless non-contact digital means of financial transactions. It was meant not only to deepen the cashless economy but also to further enhance financial stability in Nigeria.

With local and global interoperability standards and powered by NIBSS for and on behalf of the Financial Services industry in Nigeria, NQR is a secure QR code-based payments and collections platform engineered for merchants and customers to receive and make payments for goods and services.

It is not surprising then why banks, Money Market Operators, other financial institutions, merchants, payment service solution providers, and forward-looking individuals have since embraced it because of its sterling qualities and advantages. The CBN defines QR codes as a kind of matrix barcode representing information presented as square grids, made up of black squares against a contrasting background that can be scanned by an imaging device, processed, and transmitted by appropriate technology.

The security and safety of using the NQR payment option in financial transactions stem from the fact that as an indigenous secure QR-Code-Based payments and collections solution. It is powered by NIBSS on behalf of the Financial Services Industry while being regulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which released the operational guidelines/framework in January 2021 ahead of the launch date. NQR payment solution is primarily designed for merchants and customers to facilitate hitch-free receipts and payments for goods and services in Nigeria as well as promote peer-to-peer (P2P) payment.

According to NIBSS, the account-based transaction platform unifies all available closed QR code schemes in the country for consistent user experience and acceleration of digital adoption. It is easier, better, and simpler to effect contactless transactions with the NQR. In addition, this platform gives instant time value for money for merchants.

Historical information affirms that the reliability, safety, and trust reposed on NIBSS in the operation of the NQR platform on behalf of the financial sector is guaranteed by its long-standing successes in secured digital technology. Incorporated in 1993 and commenced operation in June 1994, NIBSS has operational experience of almost three decades and “has put in place modern world-class infrastructures for handling Inter-Bank payments to ensure Interoperability and Interconnectivity across the Nigerian Payment Industry.

NIBSS’ operation is supported with the best Information, Communication, and Technology infrastructure for Automated Online operations as well as effective information and data transmission security practices to deliver world-class payment/settlement services. Operational and Credit Risks in funds transfer across financial institutions are adequately mitigated by NIBSS operations.

The requirement for an individual, be it a merchant or customer to effect transactions using the NQR payment solution is a smartphone supported by internet connectivity to Scan and Pay. NQR is also available on USSD for feature phone users.

As a merchant, there are three easy steps to enroll; first contact your bank to register, generate your unique NQR code and present the Code to customers to Scan and Pay. This gives you instant value.

Q: NQR is a secure QR code-based payments and collections platform engineered for merchants and customers to receive and make payments for goods and services.

To pay with NQR, there are four simple steps to get started: Login into your mobile banking app on your smartphone, locate and click on ‘Payments’, then select ‘QR Payment”. Scan the QR Code provided by the merchant. After confirming the beneficiary’s name and amount, input your PIN and the merchant receives the value instantly.

Read also: More Nigerian businesses choose digital payments amid barriers

In addition to merchant and customer transactions, NQR payment is useful in paying bills like school fees, etc., and for P2P money transfers; the procedure follows the same simple pattern/process. A key feature in the use of NQR is that the user incurs the least transaction cost. In addition, with the use of NQR, merchants/sellers and customers/buyers of goods and services are afforded many advantages over the use of other e-payment platforms.

Some of those advantages include zero cost of on-boarding the platform, immediate notification on transactions made, absence of dispute on transactions effected, as reconciliation is instantaneous which gives instant time value for money for business owners. This enables them to plan efficiently, and execute financial decisions that translate to business growth.

According to Premier Oiwoh, managing director/CEO of the NIBSS, the essence of the NQR Solution is to deepen financial inclusion and further stimulate the cashless Society. For him, the use of the NQR code is not restricted to the educated and urban dwellers. It also serves the needs of the uneducated and rural dwellers as long as the user is able to operate his or her bank’s mobile app or even use the USSD option.

According to Oiwoh, some of the unique attributes of NQR is its simplicity. It is available in all the banks and the ability for the user to secure his or her account number since all that is required is to scan the NQR code, authenticate, pay and the receiver gets instant value.

Speaking at the official launch of the NQR Payment Solution Oiwoh had emphasized that the platform will cut down the cost of access to financial services for the banking populace, and further deepen drive for financial inclusion.

“With more people being able to pay for goods and services with just their smartphones, the NQR Payment is about recreating the Nigerian payment experience whilst deepening financial inclusion in the country,” he had said. “Digital transactions supported through the NQR code payments will promote and enhance consumer payment experience while driving growth for business owners.”

He added that the NQR Payment Solution is based on the EMV® QR Code Specification with high security, flexibility and customizability. It is API-driven and provides local and global interoperability in line with the goal to ensure that the Payment Solution is internationally recognized and accepted.

To guarantee user-friendliness and security, the CBN provided the regulatory guidance for the operation of the NQR code through its framework ahead of the launch. The apex bank ensured the adoption of appropriate QR code standards for a safe and efficient payments system in Nigeria.

The emphasis by the CBN that “QR Code Payments implementation in Nigeria shall support account, wallet, card and token-based QR Code Operations is of particular interest in the regulatory guideline, experts say. More so, another major comfort is that apart from laying the security and safety foundation for the seamless and minimal cost in the use of NQR code, the CBN keenly watches the operations of the platform to ensure that the objectives are not derailed

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