By Romanus Gustav
The COVID-19 pandemic introduced restrictions in movement, while there was still a need to pay for services and products, which significantly increased the use of digital payments solutions.
The public started understanding and appreciating digital payment solutions. Since the pandemic, there are more people using digital platforms than ever before.
During the global pandemic, digital payments have been keeping economies running, and helping people to reduce contact with the virus.
Contactless card payments, even facial recognition payments in some countries, in-app codes or One Time Pins (OTP) make it less likely for the virus to spread to others than paying with cash. Digital payments are even helping put stimulus funds into consumers’ hands rapidly.
Even before the pandemic, the payments landscape has gone through a significant transformation in recent years.
Technological advancements and interoperability have led to steep changes in innovation, with payments becoming easier, more convenient, and faster (even real-time), on both a local and global scale.
Non-traditional players, many created by big tech firms like Google, WhatsApp and Amazon have come into the market.
These big tech companies not only bring new applications and innovations into the payments ecosystem with payments embedded in existingapplications, like your messenger or WhatsApp, but they also bring scale and adoption through their existing user base.
Challenges faced with digital payments remain the adoption of new legislation that endorses payment innovations, the protectionism of the traditional players and data privacy.
These challenges remain a major concern in many countries, as does oligopolistic behaviour and the acceptance of such by the regulators in markets that are only dominated by a few firms, which may be observed more in developing countries.
Entry education and financial levels also create challenges for faster adoption of digital payment services as populations are less tech-savvy and lack resources to purchase devices that could support digital payments.
In the ever-growing tech space, consumers are urged to adapt to various platforms that create ease of payment.
Still, digital payments are now the backbone of many countries’ vibrant digital economy.
Contactless payments for taxi drivers, vendors /street vendors are possible through convenient digital payment solutions.
Payments for daily essentials, such as mobile phone bills, utilities, rent or internet fees, can all be made through payment apps, mobile and online banking.
It will be interesting to see our economic transactions in the next few decades, where cash will be something of the past and an outdated method of payment.
As for the regulators, all of this has not gone unnoticed, with various ongoing consultations and expert advice being sought from professionals in the industry, looking into how regulation needs to adapt to meet these changes.
Gone are the days of traditional payments as business and customer needs are evolving. It is clear that the local and global payments ecosystem must be agile and open to innovation without sacrificing the financial stability of the infrastructure it is built on.
Established players will remain relevant, but they need to understand the benefit of new entrants and technology, and the way the ecosystem is changing.
Disruptors in the industry will slowly take over the space of technology with easier and cheaper platforms designed for consumer satisfaction.
There are a number of established players out there that have wholeheartedly embraced innovation. They are working with fintech organisations, in partnership or in some circumstances by buying their capabilities.
Tech firms are now able to sell ideas to larger entities that have the finances to adopt the model to remain relevant.
Customers today are asking for things to be faster, simpler, beneficial to them, and definitely more secure.
The key word is convenience. This also means accessibility to everyone.
The country’s mobile payments such as MobiPay, have developed systems that have enabled the public to conveniently make payments and purchases easier and more convenient.
As a result, processing hundreds of thousands of transactions monthly.
Digital services are associated with cyber risk and others that many users are not aware of and are quite advanced to avoid.
MobiPay, which has been operating, indicated that they have a security-first approach in the development and deployment of systems, with annual penetration and vulnerability testing as well as the latest cybersecurity applications.
Romanus Gustav is the chief financial officer and head of vending business at MobiPay Namibia