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CBN Targets Growth of Startups with Frameworks as NIBSS Launch NQR

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The Central Bank of Nigeria has said the frameworks and guidelines it released early this year is meant to encourage the growth of more startups in the financial space as the Nigeria Inter Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) yesterday launched the NQR solution.

Speaking at the launch yesterday the CBN Deputy Governor Financial System Stability, Aisha Ahmad, who is also the Chairman of NIBSS noted that the recently released the regulatory framework for sandbox operations in Nigeria and the guidelines on open banking is 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.
Noting that the Nigerian payment system has evolved significantly over the past decade with widespread technological advancement supported by enabling regulation, she said the country has 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.

“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.

“The NQR solution coming soon after the QR code framework will 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 integration processes leveraging APIs.

Whilst assuring of the security of the NQR, she said merchants using the platform are provided with “a centralized QR code system and an efficient dispute resolution platform with seamless onboarding and robust reporting analytics. All of these is expected to reduce the cost of financial service, deepen financial inclusion and grow economic and business activity through increased payment at the merchant outlets.”

Also speaking on the NQR the managing director and chief executive of First Bank, Adesola Adeuntan noted that the evolving of the digital payment space is leading to a lower cost of transaction which will eventually be passed on to customers.

On his part, the managing director and chief executive of Zenith Bank, Ebenezer Onyeagwu noted that the NQR code is interoperable and it is 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.
Also, managing director and chief executive of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe noted that “we are getting to a point where electronic payments are truly safer and better than cards; this means that customers’ funds are safer.”

He furthered that it will reduce importation of POS terminals which are currently being imported from China and other countries, adding that if adopted, “it will reduce the demand thus we no longer need foreign exchange to import devices. Whilst cards remain a global solution, the NQR is homegrown and showcases the Nigerian talent in tech development in the payment space.”

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