MFS Africa looks to strengthen PAPSS backbone
African digital payments network MFS Africa has joined the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) network, the newly established African cross-border and financial markets infrastructure facilitating the payment, clearance and settlement for intra-African trade payments.
PAPSS, an initiative spearheaded by Afreximbank and supported by the African Union, is a centralised payment and settlement infrastructure that aims to increase intra-African trade and commerce by simplifying and reducing the cost of clearing and settling between African countries.
PAPSS enables both payment and settlement to be made in the respective local currencies of the buyer and seller. It will also result in a reduction in the cost, administration and time taken to make cross-border payments, resulting in estimated US$5-billion saving in transaction costs every year for Africa.
MFS Africa said it will extend the reach of the PAPSS network to over 320 million mobile money and last mile users across 35 African markets, “… enabling borderless and seamless possibilities for transactions and trade.”
The companies believe the partnership will empower the millions of semi-formal small and micro-African businesses who are too often left behind.
Founder and CEO of MFS Africa, Dare Okoudjou, said: “At MFS Africa we have always believed that Africans are not limited by borders and that their money should not be either. The interchangeability of African currencies is still very limited after decades of independence, meaning that intra-Africa trade too often relies on hard currencies, hampering the growth of intra-African trade and our continent’s economies.”
“By making cross-border payments affordable and easier, PAPSS gives Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), entrepreneurs and traders easier access to the formal payments services that will help them grow their businesses. Direct currency tradability and interchangeability removes many of the barriers to intra-African trade and investments, facilitates the natural directions of trade flows amongst African countries and regions, and makes borders matter less,” Okoudjou added.
Mike Ogbalu III, CEO of PAPSS, said: “Africa is the global leader in mobile money services. A recent study found that 64% of the daily global transactions through mobile money platforms in 2020 happened in sub-Saharan Africa. This demonstrates how mobile money services play a key role in the economic growth of the continent and facilitates financial inclusion. To that end, partnering with MFS Africa will open the way to millions more cross-border mobile money transactions and mark a new phase in driving the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area. The Pan-African Payment and Settlement System will be the enabling infrastructure to spur the growth of intra-African trade and commerce, with the active participation of central banks, financial institutions, regional economic communities, the private sector and other stakeholders.”
The stakeholders reference Afreximbank which stated that over 80% of African cross-border transactions originating from the continent’s banks are currently cleared and settled offshore, creating inefficiencies, and increasing the cost of African cross-border payments.
Digital cross-border trade using local currencies will enable more of these businesses to use formal, affordable and convenient channels for trade payments and collections.