By Abang Emenyi, Head, Growth & Marketing, OnePipe
The sights and sounds of a bustling local market in Lagos on a busy Saturday are something to behold. Traders energetically marketing their goods, buyers engaging in spirited negotiations over prices, money exchanging hands in quick succession – it’s a vibrant tapestry of entrepreneurship. Yet, within this lively picture lies an untapped transformative opportunity: electronic payments (ePayments).
In the modern digital age, ePayments have the potential to reshape these scenes, imbuing them with a level of efficiency, safety, and speed that cash transactions simply cannot match. But the journey to this promising digital landscape is not without its hurdles. To make ePayments work for everyone – the users, businesses, and merchants – an intricate framework of sound policies and regulations is needed.
One of the critical aspects of this regulatory framework is financial inclusion. The digital transformation should not cater only to the privileged few but must be accessible to everyone, irrespective of their location or financial standing. So, the narrative of financial inclusion must shift from being a mere goal to a critical policy requirement. This involves policies that promote digital literacy, ensure investments in digital infrastructure across urban and rural areas, and encourage businesses to adopt ePayments.
Interoperability is another essential component of a robust ePayment system. The seamless interaction between different payment systems maximizes the convenience of ePayments. Hence, regulations promoting interoperability, such as open banking policies, are crucial. These ensure that regardless of a user’s location or preferred payment service, their transactions can be processed smoothly and efficiently.
Then there’s the significant matter of cybersecurity. As we embrace digital technologies, we must also acknowledge the reality of cyber threats. These threats pose considerable risks to ePayments due to the sensitive nature of financial information. Addressing these risks requires robust cybersecurity regulations that offer clear guidelines to financial institutions and fintech companies for securing their platforms. Such regulations are key to safeguarding users’ funds and personal data, and in turn, fostering trust in ePayment systems.
However, these regulations and policies must be born out of consultations with all stakeholders – users, businesses, and merchants. This inclusivity in policy-making ensures that the resulting regulations are not only robust but also practical and sensitive to the unique needs of the Nigerian market.
It’s also crucial to remember that drafting policies is just the first step; effective enforcement is equally important. Regulators must have both the capacity and the resolve to enforce these policies. They need to monitor compliance by financial institutions and fintech companies, and any non-compliance needs to be addressed promptly and firmly.
ePayments, in the grand scheme of things, can ignite a financial revolution in Nigeria. They can stimulate economic activity, foster financial inclusion, and revolutionize the way we transact. However, to unlock this potential, we need comprehensive, thoughtful, and inclusive regulation. With the right policies in place, ePayments can become a win-win solution for all stakeholders, transforming Nigeria’s financial landscape and propelling the nation towards a prosperous future. This is our golden opportunity to shape the future of finance in Nigeria, and with meticulous planning and execution, we can ensure that ePayments truly work for everyone.