From Paynet Group to Interswitch East Africa and what to expect
Interswitch East Africa is a business entity that can be argued as not new in Kenya. If a business has been present in a country for years, then a new business buys a controlling stake in the old business but continues to operate the old business without many changes, would it be correct to conclude that the new business has been in Kenya for as long as the old one?
The name Interswitch East Africa might be new to most ears but everyone is familiar with PesaPoint, a business unit that was owned and operated by Paynet Group until September 2014 when Nigeria’s Interswitch Transnational Holding acquired Paynet Group. After the acquisition, Interswitch continued to operate PesaPoint and other Paynet businesses under the Paynet Group brand name; but in late last month Paynet Group was officially rebranded to Interswitch East Africa.
Explaining the significance of the rebranding , Interswitch Group Managing Director Mitchell Elegbe said, ““Interswitch’s new logo and brand is a confident statement of our leading position in the market and sets us apart from the competition. The bold design clearly reflects the best-in-class service we provide our customers, our ambitious pan-African expansion plans and our relentless pursuit of new and innovative e-payment solutions for the African market.” It is not yet clear whether the PesaPoint ATMs will also rebrand to Interswitch or they’ll just retain the PesaPoint name and logo we are all familiar with.
Same way Paynet wasn’t just about PesaPoint, Interswitch East Africa is also not just about ATMs. In addition to acquiring Paynet other businesses that include the Electronic Financial Technologies (EFT) brand, Interswitch also introduced new payment solutions, fraud solutions, funds disbursement, loyalty programmes, and revenue collection solutions as additional revenue streams to the Kenyan market. For example under retail payments solutions, Interswitch launched a B2C debit card to enable consumers make payments at Points of Sale in several stores across the country and access cash from various ATMs.
The Verve International debit card was launched in partnership with Kenya Commercial Bank and already has surpassed over 15 million units in circulation in Nigeria. Verve offers PIN-chip and biometric secured payment solutions and loyalty value add. Verve International card holders will be able to access over 100,600 POS terminals, more than 11,000 ATMs and over 1000 online merchants in Africa and globally.
The operations of Interswitch East Africa will also have positive impacts on the sectors of Transportation, Health, Aviation, Telecoms, Education, Government and Institutions and personas. Governments particularly have had issues with revenue collection where tax collectors pocket most of the revenues collected. But if the Government decides to use the Pay Direct product by Interswitch that enables corporate and government organisations to receive payments from distributors, agents and customers directly from banks, then most of existing leakages used to siphon public funds shall have been sealed.
Other notable products by Interswitch include Fraud Management solutions where individuals and organizations can use Artificial Intelligence engine to detect risks and probability of fraud. An example of the fraud management solutions is the eBanking Fraud Management module which protects against internet and mobile banking. The eBanking Fraud Management module is able to also protect against vulnerabilities in the use of tokens that are usually exploited by use of social engineering tools during authentication.
Interswitch as an Africa-focused integrated digital payments and commerce company is also present in Nigeria, Gambia, and Uganda where it attempts to facilitates the electronic circulation of money as well as the exchange of value between individuals and organisations on a timely and consistent basis. In their About Us section of their website, it is explained that Interswitch “started operations in 2002 as a transaction switching and electronic payments processing company that builds and manages payment infrastructure as well as deliver innovative payment products and transactional services throughout the African continent”.