As part of efforts to foster a safer, more inclusive payments ecosystem, Interswitch, Africa’s leading integrated payments and digital commerce company, in collaboration with Providus Bank, has emphasized the need for heightened focus on security in the payments ecosystem. This submission was made at the official unveiling of the tokenization solution jointly developed by Interswitch, Providus Bank, Mastercard, and Thales, where industry experts also gathered to discuss current and future trends in the payments space.
One of the key trends highlighted at the event was the demand for more convenient, accessible, and secure means of conducting everyday financial transactions by consumers, a trend which had prompted the introduction of the tokenization solution, with the aim of encouraging more Nigerians to accept cashless transactions.
In his opening remarks, Jonah Adams, Managing Director, Digital Infrastructure and Managed Services, Interswitch Group, explained that the collaboration that birthed the tokenization was crucial, as it opened up realms of possibilities in the payments ecosystem, not only within Nigeria but in Africa as a whole.
He noted that the tokenization solution was a first-of-its-kind solution in West Africa and the sub-Saharan region, with everyday transactions happening at the speed of thought, and posited that it would transform the payment space and merchant acquiring space.
According to him, tokenization as a solution was designed to enable more personalized, speedy, secure and convenient payment interactions. Tokenization enables consumers’ 16-digit Permanent Account Numbers (PAN) to be replaced with unique identifiers to keep fraudsters from accessing the personal details of end users. Tokenization is at the heart of connected devices and will allow users to carry out financial transactions using their electronic devices or payment cards knowing that such transactions are safe and secure.
Speaking during the panel session on the need for timely solutions such as tokenization, Babatunde Okufi, Group Head, Business Development, Interswitch Purepay, also emphasized the need for fintechs and financial institutions to design more innovative and intuitive solutions that keep the funds and data of end users safe. In his words, “The emergence of COVID-19 shifted consumer behaviour. And as more consumers get on the digital payments train, there will equally be more fraud cases. Fraudsters innovate, and players in the payments space should also innovate to ensure that they gain higher grounds on these cyber attackers.”
Okufi noted that to curb the prevailing cases of e-fraud, rules have been instituted. These rules include the introduction of transaction limitations, leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI), and effective fund transaction tracking between sender and receiver.
Frank Atat, Divisional Head, eBusiness, Providus Bank, who was also a panelist, proffered that partnerships between key stakeholders remain crucial in helping to improve payment convenience and reduce cyber threats through the deployment of cyber tools. Atat noted that with more stringent safety measures, consumers would increasingly adopt digital payment methods , adding that many Nigerians were unaware of the benefits of digital payments owing to the lack of widespread awareness. However, to address this challenge, he suggested collaboration between players in the ecosystem.
Echoing Atat’s sentiments was Peter Ehizogie, Regional Manager, Product Sales-Cyber & Intelligence Solutions (West Africa), Mastercard, who said that consumers would naturally gravitate towards digital payments once they are able to trust payment platforms with their funds. “Collaborations between players in the payments space will aid the widespread adoption of digital payment, and this can only be achieved when we have gained the trust of these consumers,” Ehizogie said.