BankservAfrica Lays Out the Essential Components of a Modernised Payments System

A modern payments system must not be ruled by what is considered essential in the current ecosystem. In a future where everyone will have their own digital store of value, and any connected device has the potential to be a payments device, the only thing you can plan for is change.

This is according to Chris Hamilton, the CEO of BankservAfrica.  Speaking at the Seamless Africa Conference in Cape Town recently, Hamilton discussed what South Africa will need to do in order to update the legacy infrastructure that is currently underlying the payments system in the country.

In October of 2017 BankservAfrica, together with the Payments Association of South Africa (PASA) released a joint research initiative that looked at payments systems and modernisation efforts across the globe.

This was a first step towards building a modernised payments system in South Africa. The framework of what a new system will look like is still in its first stages, but according to Hamilton there are three essential design parameters that must be considered to create a modernised payments system.

  • It must be real time
  • It must be data rich
  • It must be flexible and adaptable

It is impossible to know what the payments ecosystem and trends will be even five years from now. It is therefore essential to create an underlying system that will allow for any kind of environment. It should work in real time and be able to process and deliver all types of data. Most importantly it must allow for greater flexibility so that any new system can plug into it and use it effectively.

The core idea is to build a base line of connectivity for all payments systems so that it is possible to overlay the various payments applications onto it. By doing so BankservAfrica will be able to ensure that there is much greater flexibility in the system.

By building a system that is flexible in this way, it will be possible to accommodate growth in a number of regions enable new ways of doing payments. This also allows BankservAfrica to look beyond South Africa. If the payments modernisation is successful in South Africa it can be expanded to other countries in Africa, eventually bringing the whole continent together in a single system, facilitating greater trade and co-operation across the continent. This however is a very long-term plan and would take a lot of work and co-operation from all of parties involved.

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