We process N2bn in weekly transactions – Xpress Payment CEO
MARKIE IDOWU, chief executive officer and managing director of Xpress Payment Limited, in this interview with Businessday’s FRANK ELEANYA, share some of the milestones the company has made in terms of transactions and its view of the Fintech ecosystem in Africa.
What is your view of the growth of the payment space in Nigeria?
The Nigerian payment space has shown tremendous growth in the last couple of years, and funny enough, this has been positively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, as businesses and individuals have continued to opt for more electronic and contactless channels for their transactions rather than cash. A recent report released by the Nigeria Interbank Settlement Systems highlighted the tremendous growth in e-payments in 2020, with Mobile payments and USSD payments experiencing yearon- year ( YOY) growths of 84 percent and 80 percent respectively. Worthy to note is the remarkable interest of foreign investors in this space, with over $300 million in new funding for various players in the industry.
Looking at the drive towards intra-African trade, would you say Nigeria’s payment space is matured enough to lead the market on the continent?
Absolutely. Nigeria is not only the country with the largest economy on the continent but also a major player in the e-payment space. The introduction of the BVN paved the way for ensuring seamless e-payment transactions while ensuring security through effective identification of entities and this is being replicated by various countries on the continent as a worthy model to emulate. Furthermore, we have seen Nigerian Fintech blaze the trail on the continent facilitating trans-border payments both within and outside the continent. It is therefore very clear that Nigeria is taking its rightful place in leading interAfrican trade.
Does Xpress Payment have a continental ambition?
Yes, we do have continental ambition. We are currently processing our operating license in Ghana, and we hope to expand from thereon. As our vision statement, our goal is “to be the preferred choice for e-payments in Africa.” We started with Nigeria, added Ghana, and will continue from thereon.
Tell us some of the products and services you are positioning for the market?
We have various products and services for different target markets, including the B2B market and the B2C. Some of our products include Xpress Agent which provides financial services to all (banked and unbanked).
Xpresspay is a Payment Gateway to new possibilities. In a nutshell, an organization’s Website can be enabled with our payment gateway for the collection of Payments from customers using cards ( Visa, Verve, and MasterCard), bank accounts, and ewallets without having to redirect customers to another site for payment to be made.
Payxpress which is is a one-stop Value Added Services (VAS) platform designed to provide customers with easy access to purchase of airtime, Payment of Bills, transfer of funds, set up recurring payments, collections services for Government Parastatals and other Organizations.
Give us a summary of your growth in payment transactions?
As a Company, we have seen tremendous growth in the volume and value of transactions across all our product lines. Of particular interest is the growth in our Agency Banking, which we relaunched in October 2020 based on our intent to provide value to our customers and contribute our quota to the Nigerian economy through Financial inclusion. As of today, we have over 13,000 agents across all the geopolitical zones of the nation, and we process over N2 billion naira in weekly transactions, and this number keeps growing month on month, as we continue to onboard more agents on the platform.
The global payment space is prioritising easy and faster payment solutions which mostly depend on high-speed internet. How is Xpress Payment navigating the challenges of internet infrastructure Nigeria faces?
The issue of internet infrastructure is not unique to Xpress Payments, as this is an industry-wide issue. However, credit must be given to our ISPS as they continue to strive to optimize their services. I must admit, the internet infrastructure is much better today than a few years ago, and it is my belief that this positive trajectory will continue.
Most tech companies see the COVID-19 as a blessing in disguise. Is that the case for Xpress Payments? How did you navigate the difficult business environment engendered by the pandemic?
My answer to this question is a Yes, and a No. For us at Xpress payments, the year 2020 was a watershed year for the Company as we not only showed our strength as a team but also brought to the fore our ability to adapt, innovate and grow. Despite the impact of pandemics on the global and local economy, we were able to post revenue numbers that were much better than the previous year. We pushed some of our new product lines, while we innovated around some of our existing products and services. This enabled us grew our market share. This is indeed a testament to the calibre of people we have in our team, which I am proud to lead.
I would also like to state that we are grateful to God, that despite the pandemic, we did not lose any of our staff to the pandemic, but this was with mixed feelings, as some of us had family and friends who succumbed to the pandemic. While we are grateful for the business growth we experienced, we are not unmindful of the pains some of our colleagues had to go through because of the pandemic.
What is your view of the regulatory environment especially as it concerns non-bank financial institutions like Xpress Payment?
My view of the regulatory environment is that it is evolving. We have experienced tremendous support from the CBN and other regulators, as they continue to shift from a position of the “principal to its students” to one of the collaborators. They have continued to make strides in understanding how we operate, and by so doing, they are setting up regulations that are enhancing our mode of operations. It is not perfect, but it is a work in progress.
What is your outlook for the rest of the year and how is Xpress Payment Services Ltd positioned to take advantage of emerging opportunities within its industry?
Currently, we are deploying hassle-free solutions for businesses by providing smart living solutions. An example as mentioned earlier is via our Xpress Agent services. We are on a mission to change the payment narrative. There are numerous issues that come along with accepting electronic and mobile payments such as processing time, security, and customer trust. With the provision of financial services, we aim to be a leader in addressing these and many other issues associated with e-payments.”
‘ The issue of internet infrastructure is not unique to Xpress Payments, as this is an industry-wide issue. However, credit must be given to our ISPS as they continue to strive to optimize their services ‘
You recently won an award. Tell us about it and what impact it has on your business?
The award confirms our organization’s strong management and unmatched commitment to service excellence. Furthermore, the Next Bull Award is a testament to our firm’s resolve in continuing to deploy customercentric innovations by using cutting-edge technology for consumer satisfaction and experience. This recognition will further spur us to do more in meeting the needs of our customers with unparalleled services.