Today, the ability to seamlessly process payments across borders has become a priority for many markets and regulators in an effort to aid, not hamper, international economic growth. Business and consumer buyers alike are increasingly seeking overseas suppliers to fulfill their shopping needs.
The same goes for Africa, and at a recent conference held in South Africa, experts joined to discuss the establishment of a regional cross-border payments system.
Reports Sunday (May 17) highlighted the events of the SWIFT African Regional Conference, which hosted the Governor of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), Lesetja Kganyago. According to the official, a cross-border banking system will ease friction felt by declining banking relationships across borders.
The region launched the Integrated Regional Electronic Settlement System in 2013. Kganyago said that already, about 43 percent of payments made within the South African Development Community are made over this system, also known as SIRESS. “By the last week of April this year, SIRESS had reached the R1 trillion settlement mark,” he said.
But there is more to do, and Kganyago cited other regions on the continent who have successfully implemented their own cross-border payments systems, for example the East Africa Payment Systems, or EAPS. The system, the South African official said, enhances both efficiency and safety of payments in East Africa, “It also facilitates cross-border transactions that are essential for boosting intra-regional trade among East African countries.”
Africa’s efforts toward approaching real-time cross-border payments has already attracted payment service providers to the continent. Last month, for example, Vodafone M-Pesa and MTN Mobile Money partnered to connect their mobile money services across several African nations. Separately, Western Union has worked to launch cross-border payment services, too.