Two new platforms boost digital payment adoption in Africa
Africa is accelerating its adoption of digital payments with two new digital payment platforms unveiled in the last month.
While Africa’s leading digital innovator Interswitch has unveiled a comprehensive corporate payment solution platform (Quickteller Business) aimed at empowering Africa’s snowballing SME sector, global payment leader Mastercard has collaborated with digital commerce expert Network International on a brand-new digital platform aimed at helping its clients enable mobile-based payments for their consumers and merchants.
Developed to enable businesses and consumers in Africa to benefit from what is a growing digital economy, what these new digital payment platforms have in common is their ability to not just facilitate, but accelerate, growth in business across the African continent as well as introducing financial inclusion.
“Accelerated adoption of digital payments means more consumers and businesses are enabled to benefit from a growing digital economy and a world beyond cash,” says Gaurang Shah, Senior Vice President, Product Management, Digital Payments & Labs, Middle East and Africa, Mastercard.
Digital payments are key to business growth
Digital payments are now, more than ever, essential for business growth in Africa. They are critical to minimising fraud, improve transparency and control, improve the free flow of funds to boost business and economic activity, deliver financial inclusion, and empower SMEs, giving them greater scope for inclusion and access to customers and markets.
A study by McKinsey in June 2020 stated that “innovation in payments should be one component of the industry’s response to the crisis”, and reported that this should include promoting awareness of digital payments, partnering with other industries, and introducing new and relevant products.
According to Akeem Lawal, Divisional CEO, Payments Processing at Interswitch Group, the SME sector is a potential game-changer for economic growth and development in Africa.
Nigerian SMEs contribute as much as 48% of GDP, with the country boasting one of the fastest growing emerging middle classes in the world, yet 40% remain financially excluded and many lack digital tools for transactions, explains Lawal.
Furthering access to electronic payment systems for businesses has the potential to increase the contribution of SME commercial activity in economies across the continent.
Introducing Interswitch Quickteller Business
An extension of Interswitch’s existing Quickteller digital payment and ecommerce platform, used by 5 million consumers across Nigeria, Kenya and Gambia, the new digital payment platform, Quickteller Business, represents a significant long-term shift in both the company’s business and the merchant operating model.
Through this new integrated platform, SMEs, financial services agents and large corporates can focus on their core business knowing that their “diverse transaction needs are taken care of”, explains Lawal.
Lawal continues, “The platform offers a comprehensive, integrated, payment solution that allows businesses to receive and track payments, generate e-invoices, as well as dispute management. It is an innovative and exciting payment solution that will benefit all business owners. Through this new offering, we are continuing our mission to make payments a seamless part of our everyday lives.”
Mastercard and Network International partner on platform
A collaboration between longstanding partners Mastercard and Network International, a leading enabler of digital commerce in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, this new digital platform for mobile-based payments is being launched across 40 African countries including Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa and then across the rest of Africa in coming months.
The easy-to-use platform means payment issuers and banks will be able to offer their customers a platform to enable mobile-based payments for their consumers and merchants across various channels. The platforms will be able to accceipt multiple payment types and solutions on offer will including Digital Wallets, P2P Payments and Virtual cards.
Re-defining the economics of CX in the new customer journey
There’s no shortage of customer service channels for the enterprise to select from today. Regardless of the many new metrics that have emerged – such as customer success, or empathy – cost reduction is still a primary driver in selection criteria.
There are many articles dedicated to how companies can turn customer service and customer experience (CX) from a cost to a revenue centre. The problem is, if you stop there and don’t look beyond cost reduction, you’re limiting the scope for CX to become an even bigger economic contributor in the enterprise.
There is every opportunity for customer service and CX to significantly influence the front end of business, particularly amongst direct-to-consumer subscription-based products and services, such as popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, as well as sports subscription services like DAZN.
In these products and services and others, there are new customer journeys that may drive business growth and revenue. They start earlier and may last a lifetime, so getting things right at the start of the journey is key so that customers have the best experience from day one.
Not only will this help in making customers less likely to reach out for issues-based support further down the line, but these customers will be much less likely to churn, and much more likely to take up new services as they are offered throughout the lifetime journey.
So, what does the new customer journey look like for these services?
Opportunity waiting for the likes of Netflix & Disney
While consumers may have previously regarded customer service as a way to mitigate the inconveniences in their lives, the customer journey is expanding in scope every day. Today there are many more touchpoints available that put CX in a position to drive revenue.
For one-off purchases, traditional CX deployments have not changed significantly in the past few years. However, if you look at the change in the CX relationships we’re seeing with subscription-based products and services, particularly media-based streaming services, it’s clear that these companies lead what quickly become very multifaceted relationships with their customers. These have serious potential to evolve over time for increased economic benefit.
For any sort of subscription-based business, customer lifetime value is paramount, and the requirement to actively manage a continued positive customer experience is critical.
Every interaction is an opportunity, and every data point is a chance to offer more value. Introductory offers can convert to longtime customers. Longtime customers may take up opportunities to upgrade to more premium products or services. They may also appreciate incentives to invite family and friends to become customers. Consumers who like a particular service, for example, may appreciate a recommendation for another similar or complimentary service.
It all starts with customer interaction, and the customer experience journey becomes an opportunity to strategically affect the user base and resulting revenue - which is a far cry from the limitations of call center cost reduction or churn metrics.
How do companies support the new customer journey?
More and more, customers look at the new customer journey as engaging with brands as part of their lifestyles. Many companies are making brand ambassadors available before the traditional customer journey even starts, which is a marked change from a purely transactional relationship associated with a one-off purchase.
These ambassadors, who are often independent users of products or services, are providing trusted pre-sales advice, and that same trusted advice can also function to nurture the customer journey in a subscription-based relationship. Call it ‘GigCX’ or ‘crowdsourced customer service’ or even ‘peer-to-peer customer service’ - it doesn’t matter.
The key is in providing impartial, trusted advice from real users. Think about it: who would you rather get advice from? Someone who has used a product or service extensively, or someone who has been trained to provide customer service surrounding that product or service?
For services such as streaming media, advice from trusted experts with real product know-how could be invaluable. This may not be limited to technical issues, such as what to do when you can’t access your favourite show, or how to access services across various devices. It could be parents helping other parents who are concerned about how to restrict adult content from child viewers, or simply customers who have similar taste in programming who can comment on the benefits of upgraded or premium products. The point is, these experts are easily available at any touchpoint in the customer lifetime journey, creating more chances to add value.
It’s also about tipping customers from ‘passive’ to ‘promoter’ in the NPS scale. It’s an opportunity to turn neutral customers who may be vulnerable to competitive offerings into loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and referring others, fuelling growth. It may ultimately help drive even further revenue by creating customers that are helping to sell the brand itself.
And, while chatbots and automation may play a key role, they are often not able to handle the more complex support needed in the new customer journey. Conversational AI is rarely as conversational as it claims to be, and in the new customer journey, most companies are finding that a mix of automation and people-centric service is an ideal way to nurture the many new touchpoints created.
It’s no longer about trying to replace human capital with automation: it’s about orchestrating a uniquely personalised CX, and proactively engaging during the customer lifecycle to enhance the experience, and to create more long-term value.
At the moment, we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the power to affect the economics introduced by the new customer journey. We’ll no doubt see this evolve rapidly particularly amongst streaming companies as they use human-centric connections in CX to support the full potential of customer lifetime value.
About Roger Beadle
Roger Beadle is an entrepreneur and business leader who is reinventing how customer service is delivered via the gig economy. After establishing several businesses in the contact centre industry, Roger co-founded Limitless with Megan Neale in 2016. Limitless is a gig-economy platform that addresses some of the biggest challenges faced by the contact center industry: low pay, high attrition and access to new talent. Previously, Roger and Megan helped to build one of the largest privately-owned outsourced contact center business in Europe, before selling the business to the global conglomerate Hinduja Group. Roger is an outspoken proponent of digital ethics, worker’s rights and the ‘good-gig:’ which encapsulates gig work for incremental pay versus full time work, skilled gig work, no unpaid time/downtime and zero expenses.
Named a Rising Star at Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 program, Limitless is a gig customer service platform, combining crowdsourcing and AI to help global businesses address their biggest customer service challenges – rising costs, increasing attrition, variability in demand and the need for diversity. Brands like Microsoft, Unilever, Daily Mail Group and Postmates are using Limitless’ SmartCrowdTM technology to connect with their most engaged customers, and reward them for providing on-demand customer service that can flex in line with demand. Limitless is one of the world’s first global tech platforms to introduce localised platform terms to protect the rights of its gigging workers. Backed by AlbionVC, Downing Ventures and Unilever Ventures, Limitless is empowering people worldwide to earn money for providing brilliant customer service for the brands they love.