• Monday, June 17, 2024
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A force for progress: How Interswitch and ACI are powering Africa’s payments revolution

A force for progress: How Interswitch and ACI are powering Africa’s payments revolution

By Jonah Adams

Africa’s financial landscape is undergoing a dramatic transformation as cash, once king, continues to give way to digital payments. Africa had the highest real-time share of electronic payments in 2023 at 40 percent, according to the 2024 Prime Time for Real-Time report, published by ACI Worldwide (NASDAQ: ACIW), a global leader in mission-critical real-time payments software, in partnership with GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Over the years, fintech, tech companies, banks, and multilaterals have benefited from investing in collaboration and strategic partnerships, heralding economic development and thereby playing a pivotal role in reshaping the payment landscape across the continent and beyond. A good example of a fintech and technology company collaboration is the alliance between Interswitch Group and ACI Worldwide. For over 20 years, Interswitch, one of Africa’s leading digital payment and commerce companies, and ACI Worldwide, a global leader in mission-critical, real-time payments software, have worked closely to provide innovative products and solutions to meet the nascent digital payment needs in Nigeria and Africa in general. This partnership has grown in sophistication, impact, and reach over the years.

The initial focus was on building the foundational infrastructure for electronic transactions; however, Interswitch, leveraging ACI’s technology, disrupted the cash-reliant Nigerian payment system by introducing robust transaction processing and switching services, which have laid the groundwork for a secure and efficient flow of digital payments within the country and beyond. The dynamic approach that underpins the partnership resulted in Interswitch’s deepened relationship with ACI, moving from reseller to strategic partner, positioning Interswitch as a major player in the booming African payment sector.

However, the partnership’s ambitions went beyond just establishing a basic framework. With innovation being one of the key pillars of the partnership, In a rapidly evolving digital ecosystem, staying ahead of the curve is essential. Interswitch and ACI have continuously pushed the boundaries of what is possible, introducing new products and services that cater to the diverse needs of their customers. Interswitch will now incorporate the full range of payment solutions and infrastructure that form part of the ACI Enterprise Payments Platform into its technology stack, enabling banks and financial institutions across Africa to respond rapidly to regulatory mandates, new competition, and evolving trends in a fast-changing payments landscape.

According to the report, Africa recorded 8.2 billion real-time payment transactions in 2023 and is projected to hit 21.7 billion by 2028, a 2023–2028 CAGR of 21.2 percent. Nigeria is a major growth market and the undisputed leader in real-time payments in Africa. The country recorded 7.9 billion transactions in 2023, with real-time payments accounting for an impressive 82.1 percent of all electronic payments in the country. The growth surge is driven by a combination of factors: a rapidly growing young population, increasing digitization, a progressive regulatory environment that fosters innovation, and the influence of digitization on the payment ecosystem, fueled by partnerships such as Interswitch Group and ACI Worldwide’s.

The evolution of the Interswitch and ACI Worldwide partnership also underscores the importance of collaboration in achieving common goals. In an increasingly interconnected world, partnerships between industry leaders are essential for driving innovation and addressing complex challenges. By pooling their resources and expertise, both organisations have been able to achieve far more than either could have accomplished alone, setting a powerful example for others to follow. This partnership brings not only increased growth but also dynamism to the ever-evolving payments landscape, equipping banks and financial institutions to handle emerging trends and innovations. The impact of this strengthened partnership extends far beyond enabling individual institutions, as Interswitch and ACI jointly foster a thriving financial ecosystem across Africa.

Looking ahead, the future of the Interswitch Group and ACI partnership is filled with promise. As technology continues to advance and consumer expectations evolve, there will be new opportunities and challenges to navigate. However, with a shared commitment to innovation and financial inclusion, there is no doubt that this partnership will continue to play a leading role in shaping the future of Africa’s payment ecosystem.


Adams is Managing Director, Digital Infrastructure and Managed Services (Interswitch Systegra).