The Central Bank of Nigeria has said the frameworks and guidelines it released early this year are meant to encourage the growth of more startups in the financial space as the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System launched NQR solution on Monday.
The CBN Deputy Governor Financial System Stability, Aisha Ahmad, who is also the Chairman of NIBSS, said this at the launch of the NQR solution.
According to her, the recently released regulatory framework for sandbox operations in Nigeria and the guidelines on open banking are aimed at opening up the terrain for more transformational ideas and encourage more startup companies to grow and contribute to the economic development in Nigeria.
She said the Nigerian payment system had evolved significantly over the past decade with widespread technological advancement supported by enabling regulation, adding that the country had leaped over “a number of advanced economies in the area of payment and financial innovation.”
The NQR solution is an interoperable payment service launched by NIBSS which allows merchants to receive payments directly into their accounts with customers scanning their personalised quick response codes thus avoiding contact.
According to Ahmad, the COVID-19 pandemic has also presented more opportunities for financial institutions and other players in the payment ecosystem to innovate and provide more options for payments and settlements.
She said, “Globally, there has been a major shift to contactless payment options with a number of countries, like China, Thailand, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria, pioneering groundbreaking solutions. Many of these countries have developed common QR standards to facilitate the development of a robust contactless payment system.
“The CBN in response to these market developments released a framework for QR code development in Nigeria in January 2021 as part of efforts to further deepen the electronic payments in the country. The framework stipulates acceptable standards for implementation and interoperability, roles and responsibilities of participants for QR code operating in the country.”
She said the NQR solution, coming after the QR code framework, would bridge an important gap in Nigeria’s fast-evolving payment landscape.
“It unifies QR code schemes across the country, offers a robust payment platform for P2B and B2B transactions offers flexible payment options for customers and improves customer experience. The scheme will also allow more convenient and efficient integrations process leveraging APIs,” Ahmad added.
Also speaking on the NQR, the Managing Director and Chief Executive of First Bank, Adesola Adeduntan, said the evolving of the digital payment space was leading to a lower cost of transaction which would eventually be passed on to customers.
On his part, the Managing Director and Chief Executive of Zenith Bank, Ebenezer Onyeagwu, described the NQR code as interoperable and “a straightforward process in terms of connection to banks”.
“It is faster in terms of process of payment and when compared to conventional cards. It is cheaper and faster and cost-effective for everyone,” he said.
“We are getting to a point where electronic payments are truly safer and better than cards this means; that customers’ funds are safer,” the Managing Director and Chief Executive of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, said.
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