By Prince Osuagwu
Building up to the Electronic Payment Providers Association of Nigeria, EPPAN organized ePayment for Government Summit in Abuja next week, Interswitch’s Director for Payment and Solutions, Mr Charles Ifedi, in this interview has tipped the summit as last stroke to break awareness barrier of the CBN cashless society initiative.
What is your view on cashless society?
Cashless society has been on for few months now, and CBN has declared focus to reduce the amount of cash in the economy as well as reduce the cost of doing business in Nigeria. This policy has started now in Lagos and the main focus has been how to roll out point of Sale terminals, POS.
There are many POS terminals that can help people do their transactions. Again, cashless policy will also see various players introduce mobile payment solutions, internet payment solution and other payment solutions that will make it more efficient for people to transact business.
In fact the entire objective is to create efficiency around electronic payment and to make sure that all the investment made by the various stakeholders in the industry bring significant value to entire Nigerians.
Don’t you think the cart was put before the horse, as far as awareness is concerned?
Much as I cannot say that sufficient awareness has been created, I would want to say that the involvement of stakeholders like the Electronic Payment Providers Association, EPPAN has given the cashless society initiative a real boost.
You know that the CBN has mapped out plans which it has given to stakeholders and trade groups to meet various people and to educate them about the cashless policy. These stakeholders are still on the assignments and awareness is a continuous thing.
However, if we do not set a target before any initiative, we may not achieve anything. So, I it see more that a target has been set; the Central bank has been listening to what people have been saying. Whether sufficient information has been dished out or not, it can never be denied that a lot of communication has been done.
Also, considering that the cashless thing is made to begin with Lagos, the success rate is high. You know if we can succeed in Lagos, we are likely going to succeed in other parts of the country.
Isn’t security a big issue in this thing?
Card issuance started around 1998 in Nigeria and debit card between 2003 and 2004 and now a lot of information have been done to inform people how to protect their PIN. Secondly, CBN ensures that certain channels are certified fit before any card can be used on those channels.
So, when you get your card to any POS, you will know if your card is allowed to transact on such POS. In 2009, card transaction migrated from magnetic card to verve card which is chip and PIN. To this extent, there are no more fears of compromise. It’s just that people should guide their PIN numbers jealously.
Now, what is the contribution of Interswitch to the cashless scheme?
Let me make bold to say that Interswitch started electronic payment in Nigeria and everybody that came in have benefited from what Interswitch started. Again, when the POS terminals were deployed for electronic services, they were deployed by Interswitch and that was in 2005.
Now that the market has opened up, Interswitch focuses on providing more POS terminals so that the entire industry can continue to flourish. At our ATMs we have made it possible now for people to pay their bills, buy recharge cards rather than just to withdraw cash alone.
Other areas we have worked on is the internet base solutions. Today, we have over 1,000 providers on internet that people can make payments through. Courtesy of our innovations, it is now easy for people outside Nigeria to interact with their banks here. I think these are good backgrounds for cashless society