Business Day Exclusive: Bill Issuers and Payment Networks Must Embrace the Digital Age
Affecting both has been the payments landscape, which too has seen a rapid digital uptake over the past year, with leading payment aggregator and provider of secure payment solutions, Pay@, noting a 175% increase in digital volumes over the past financial year.
“Well before South Africa entered the initial lockdown period, we were offering local consumers a variety of digital bill presentment and payment methods. However, it became increasingly necessary for bill issuers to deliver bills not only via digital channels, but through channels that are most relevant to their clientele, regardless of their LSM level or whether they have a feature phone or a smartphone,” says Pay@ Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Hardie. “In line with this, we have seen an uptick in our proprietary and third-party bill presentment solutions, which range from USSD, WhatsApp, and QR codes, to email, SMS, in-app, and web solutions. Online card, instant EFT, and apps like Masterpass have been big winners, but we are also starting to see traction in new tender types like MTN Momo. Innovation around linking digital channels with physical payments in-store is also improving the bill payments experience and efficiency.”
Even small businesses are tapping into this trend, with the use of on-the-go invoicing solutions like Yap. Mobile solutions like Yap enable artisans for example to issue invoices and / or payment requests directly to clients with a payment link when sent via SMS or email; or a QR code for in-person payments. In addition, the SME receives the related reconciliation, settlement, and reporting services, meaning that they can now receive services which are similar to those of far bigger bill issuers with far more sophisticated bill payments environments.
At the same time, customers are increasingly opting for the convenience of contactless payment solutions. “Fears around contracting the coronavirus are driving this demand which is being met by a growing variety of secure and innovative digital and mobile payment platforms,” shares Hardie.
Looking to the future, the CEO believes that as much as digital presentment and payments have grown exponentially – and will continue to do so – in-person payments at retailers will continue to dominate the alternative payments landscape in the near term. “It will take a while for people to be educated around making the shift to digital channels and for them to be able to trust these. However, I am also confident that digital innovations in the bill presentment and payment space will continue to emerge, providing bill issuers with more ways to reach their clients and increase the convenience and efficiency of the front-end payment process. Retailers too will be looking to digitise their value-added services channels.”