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NIBSS: Charting a new course with NQR payment solution in Nigeria

In Nigeria, cash transactions remain a very popular form of payment even with the fact that payment options have evolved over the years to include various cashless options. Customer concerns abound; the fear of electronic fraud especially with the segment of the population with high illiteracy rate and low income earners who believe one erroneous transaction can wipe out their life’s savings; or is it how many have had to cope with the spate of poor infrastructure in some areas of the country, including insufficient point of sale terminals, failed cards and electronic payment transactions.

Nevertheless, this evolution and innovation in consumer payment transactions continues on its growth trajectory. This is supported by the financial inclusion strategies put in place by the Central Bank of Nigeria to boost the number of financial cards in circulation, in addition to the deepening digitalisation in the country.

Covid-19 accelerating drive for Cashless solution

The payments industry is trending towards cashless and electronic payments along with the rise of e-commerce, mobile transactions, and others. In this past year, many companies have faced new challenges because of COVID-19 and the need to transform their payment systems in the “new normal” of remote work. Although the trend towards digital payments has been steadily increasing, the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 is accelerating the shift to a cashless society. Already Merchants are asking not only how to adapt to the current needs of the market, but also what this means for their financial future.

At the same time, brands and events are looking at ways to reinvent, innovate and ensure sustainability in the most challenging of circumstances. The entertainment, sports and hospitality sectors need to understand and reassure its patrons. COVID-19 is forcing everyone to take stock of how events are run. Social distancing, readily available sanitisers and ways to minimise contact are now going to be prime considerations when events and tourist attractions fully reopen.

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The fear of contracting the virus either through strategic touchpoints such as POS terminals or spending long time in public spaces near others have helped to further drive the development and acceptance of digitalisation in the country. Although contactless smart cards hold low share within overall financial cards, this technology is being increasingly driven by the rising number of POS terminals in Nigeria. This acceptance is bound to rise rapidly with the cards experiencing notable growth in uptake during the pandemic, and with their “tapand-go” functionality offering a safer and quicker checkout process.

NQR Sharp Payment solution to the rescue

Recently, there has been an increasing demand for an alternative digital payment solution in the Nigerian Payment Space. To cater for this need, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), licensed Payment Service providers, and other stakeholders that have invested heavily in the Cashless Initiative to evolve various innovative payment options to further deepen Financial Inclusion.

This is why the launch of the NQR payment solution by Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System Plc came as a sweet relief. Stakeholders and players within the financial system agree that the NQR payment solution is an innovative payment platform implemented to galvanise support for banks customers. The New Quick Response code solution offers a robust platform that delivers instant value for P2B and P2P transactions by simply scanning to pay. It is a solution that will unify the available closed QR Code schemes in the country for consistent user experience and accelerated digital adoption.

Speaking during the launch of the NQR code payment system in Lagos, the DG FSS, Central Bank of Nigeria & Chairman, NIBSS, Aishah Ahmad, stated that “the CBN as regulator of the banking and payment system in Nigeria is committed to providing an enabling regulatory environment that ensures interoperability, proper market conduct and continued innovation within the financial services ecosystem to foster healthy competition, high quality service and financial inclusion. Against this background, the Bank recently released Regulatory Framework for Sandbox Operations in Nigeria and the Guidelines on Open Banking with the objective of opening up the terrain for more transformative ideas and encouraging start-up companies to grow and contribute to the overall economic development in Nigeria”.

Also, the CEO of NIBSS, Premier Oiwoh, added that “with more people being able to pay for goods and services with just their smartphones, the ‘ NQR Payment is about re-creating the Nigerian payment experience whilst deepening financial inclusion in the country. Digital transactions supported through the NQR code payments will promote and enhance consumer payment experience while driving growth for business owners. This payment solution made available by Banks and other financial institutions has been hailed by financial experts as the ‘Future of Payments’; it will unlock a wealth of extra benefits that will transform the way Nigerians choose to pay for goods and services at all levels”.

The Future uncoded

This Solution designed to be “low cost” for merchants would see shoppers scan a QR code generated by a seller to pay for an item. Each code will have unique details containing the information relating to the transaction and would link with a customer’s Banking App.

The scheme is designed and implemented to allow easier, more convenient and efficient integration process for licensed Payment Service Providers who would leverage APIS to provide instant value for merchants, flexible payment options and much improved customer experience for consumers. As consumers and merchants alike move towards technology-driven solutions, QR Codes are growing increasingly important. Nigeria has demonstrated again that it has a forward-looking financial services industry, as it drives towards a truly cashless and contactless society with NQR.

In this modern time, being financially included is not a choice. Individuals who desire to realise their potentials must take advantage of the NQR system of making financial transaction easy. The financial services industry is full of innovative financial offerings designed to meet the needs of the diverse groups of people, improving quality of lives and ultimately growing the national economy.

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