Nigeria’s mobile-payments transactions are growing at one of the fastest rates in the region, with the sector looking set to dominate the future of payments here, according to a brand-new study on the country’s cards and payments market from the Research unit of Argus Advisory, a TransUnion company.
Incumbent banks are now understandably focusing on mobile too, further incentivised by the unprecedented challenges and opportunities coming from a fintech sector whose most ambitious players have been picking up increasing investment in recent years.
Challengers and incumbents alike are benefitting as the authorities in Abuja slowly but surely make ground in the battle to modernise and digitalise infrastructure: in 2021, for example, a framework for QR code payments in the country was launched.
In addition, a centralised payment and settlement system for intra-African trade in goods and services, PAPSS, was launched a year ago this month. PAPSS should be especially valuable here, in the continent’s biggest country. Customer adoption of fintech products, boosted by back-end gains such as these, is on the rise.
Consumer appetite is undoubtedly present: as the chart shows, transaction value on mobile P2P payments has increased almost tenfold since 2019. There are undoubtedly challenges here in the form of civil disorder, corruption and internet access.
However, as the latter steadily improves, digital methods may prove the workaround that has been long been needed to unlock the historic opportunity presented by Africa’s largest population, the vast majority of whom are under 40 and in possession of a mobile phone.
“Besides ensuring interoperable systems, the central bank, despite missteps, is evidently determined to move its digital currency, the eNaira, into mainstream usage as its second birthday approaches this year”, noted Patrick Houlihan, senior research analyst at Argus Advisory Research (AAR).
“Online channels too are growing by leaps and bounds. Our study shows that B2C e-commerce billed volume doubled from 2019 to 2022 with much more to come if structural and legacy obstacles can be overcome.”
E-commerce is popular, but its potential is largely untapped. The merchant-acquiring market is set to open for non-banks, as the authorities look to facilitate competition. The eNaira, for example, could halve merchant service fees. Cash-on-delivery was the most common payment method chosen when shopping online in 2021, but improving infrastructure technically paves the way for economies of scale on the digital side.
In terms of cards in circulation, Nigeria has one of the largest payment-cards markets in sub-Saharan Africa. Global card networks are gaining share, although activity remains exceptionally low, especially for credit cards. Debit-card purchase volume at the POS is set to double its 2021 figure by 2024. A new domestic card scheme is set to be launched in early 2023.
“Consumer trust is probably the biggest variable in Nigerian payments”, AAR’s Patrick Houlihan concludes. “Now that the unbanked are being drawn in, with steadily improving technology predicated on mobile-phone ownership and the potential mass uptake of eNaira, the opportunity is huge – once ways are found to resolve that confidence issue.”
More information on Argus Advisory Research’s new report on Nigeria can be found here. It offers a comprehensive overview of the cards, payments and consumer banking market in the country, with clearsighted commentary backed by relevant data. Among much else, the report includes data, projections and commentary on consumer payments, B2C e-commerce and the credit/debit card market (numbers, volumes, billed volumes), profitability indicators, and data revealing the current and future competitive landscapes for networks, issuers and merchant acquirers (online and offline), mobile payments (proximity and P2P), as well as retail banking and demographic metrics.
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