Imagine a bustling Tuesday morning in the city of Lagos and Mrs. Hadiza, a vibrant entrepreneur, is preparing her well-loved Jollof rice for the lunch crowd. As she expertly stirs the simmering pot, her mind wanders to a challenging period earlier this year when Nigeria experienced a cash crunch that followed the introduction of the new naira currencies.
Mrs. Hadiza was unable to run her food business operations smoothly. During this time, she was unable to make the necessary purchases for her business because she did not have sufficient cash. Her suppliers were insistent on being paid in cash; bank apps failed intermittently and payments were getting reversed so no one trusted the transfer system.
Both the suppliers she needed to pay and the customers who needed to pay her were caught in a financial dilemma. This was not just her experience; many Nigerians found themselves unable to procure everyday items due to the lack of cash.This episode was a stark reminder of the uncertainties that can shake a cash-dependent economy, and the vulnerabilities of businesses that operate within such an ecosystem.
During these turbulent times, digital payment solutions like Pay with Transfer, although always available, came to the fore as more viable alternatives, offering resilience against such financial shocks. This was a real-life illustration of the potential of digital payments and the transformative role they can play in enhancing economic stability. The adoption of these methods is not without its challenges, but the experiences during the crunch showed us that the benefits they offer are undeniable and far-reaching.
Reliability and speed of transactions are two of the most significant benefits that digital payments offer. In our rapidly moving world, where time is often equated with money, instant payments can make all the difference. They eliminate long queues from banking halls, ATM machines, check-out shops, and even places like Mrs. Hadiza’s bustling eatery, streamlining business operations and customer experiences. Digital payments can enhance the efficiency of businesses by reducing transaction times and eliminating the need for physical cash handling as it did for Mrs. Hadiza. For customers too, the convenience of paying instantly without worrying about having the exact change or the risk of carrying cash is a major advantage. This convenience extends beyond the customer-business transaction, impacting the wider economy and making the hustle and bustle of daily life in cities like Lagos smoother and more efficient.
Safety is another crucial aspect that digital payments prioritize. As our financial transactions increasingly move online, the risk of cyber threats also rises. However, a focus on transfer as a payment option effectively eliminates the common pitfalls of cash handling, such as theft, robberies, and mismanagement of funds. This compelling shift encourages both banks and fintech companies to devise innovative and robust measures to ensure security and prevent fraud, thereby reinforcing trust among users. Digital payment solutions like Pay with Transfer, consequently, provide the necessary safeguards, ensuring peace of mind for both businesses and individuals. This level of security allows businesses to focus more on their core operations and less on potential financial risks, offering not only ease of use but also a sense of security and reliability that is vital in today’s digital age.
However, while these benefits are substantial, we must acknowledge the realities of a digital divide. Some businesses are well-equipped to integrate digital payments into their operations, while others may face challenges due to limited internet access, lack of digital literacy, or a preference for traditional methods. This divide is more pronounced in developing economies like Nigeria, where a significant portion of the population still operates outside the formal banking system.
In this context, digital payment solutions like Pay with Transfer can serve as a bridge, offering a user-friendly platform that caters to a diverse user base. It can help businesses and individuals who are currently underserved by the traditional banking system to join the digital economy. While it’s not a panacea for all financial challenges, it represents a crucial step towards a more inclusive financial ecosystem. It can bring about an era of financial inclusion, where everyone, regardless of their background or location, can participate in the economic growth of the country. I mean, just imagine a Nigeria where every buka, mama-put, vulcanizer and shoe-shiner accepted their payments via bank transfer; implying that they have a digital financial footprint and are able to access financial services like credit, in order to grow their businesses.
The future of finance in Nigeria is exciting, and digital payment solutions like Pay with Transfer are part of this journey. They are not just tools for facilitating transactions but instruments of change that can foster economic resilience and inclusivity. They have the potential to democratize access to financial services, thereby contributing to the broader economic development of the country.
The experience of the cash crunch earlier this year underscores the importance of having a variety of reliable, convenient, and secure payment options. It emphasizes the value of choice, reminding us that the best financial tool is the one that suits our unique needs and circumstances. Today, for many, Pay with Transfer is a part of that choice, representing the potential of digital payments in Nigeria.
Yvonne-Faith Elaigwu is the Head of Operations and Governance, OnePipe