BankservAfrica | Getting Economies Up to Speed

Reliable, inexpensive and ultra-fast connectivity has long been a challenge. Fortunately, this is changing in payments, explains Jenny Theunissen, Product Manager of Managed Network Services at BankservAfrica

As rapid digital transformation sets in, the race continues for African economies to keep up and ready themselves for the hyperconnected world. To some extent, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this push as more organisations turned to digital to keep operations running while staying connected to customers. The case for change has long been top of the agenda among countries wishing to be competitive and active in the innovation boom. There has already been some good groundwork and progress in place on the digital connectivity front.

Money never sleeps

One of the biggest challenges is reliable digital connectivity. Although there are solutions, many are expensive and sometimes feature security challenges that makes it riskier to use.

Connectivity is critical in financial services. For years we have heard ‘money never sleeps’. In today’s digital and globalised world, this is even more so. Money needs to move at a high to hyper speed. It also needs to move without any failures, disruption or delays. The capacity and capability to do this for large volumes instantly and in real-time have become the big ask.

Naturally, efforts towards the state of ultra-fast and uninterrupted connectivity processing of payments have kept up with the demand, especially as the payments ecosystem in South Africa opens to banks and non-banks. Better and faster has led to developing a communications network into which organisations can plug and play to complete their financial transactions.

In 2017, we took the step to innovate for our customers by launching the ‘Managed Network Service’ (MNS). This was to address connectivity constraints and to complement and improve the operational side of transaction processing. MNS is an all-round smart network solution with resilient transaction processing in line with the ICASA License exemption specifications and limited to financial transactions for our banks and non-bank customers. The market response has been phenomenal with demand-led growth over the years – even before the COVID-19 outbreak. We believe the success is in our results: MNS can process up to 17 million transactions in two hours compared to the seven days in the days before MNS.

Reaching into Africa

Teraco’s R4 billion investment into building the biggest datacentre in Africa sets the continent on its path to being digitally transformed. This is a welcomed gateway to consistent connection to other parts of Africa

And we see this link benefitting payments in Africa for the foreseeable future. We believe we can leverage Teraco’s expansion to expand our footprint into other African markets with its erratic connectivity and ever-escalating costs to fulfil their payment flows.

MNS provides the hyper speed and access points needed for economies to function at their best and lowers the communication cost barriers.

There is more that we can do on our MNS network and with digital transformation coming to the fore, there is room for us to improve functionality even further and adapt to the changing market needs. For now, our solution is on par with global standards and has been customised for the South African market where reliable, secure and inexpensive connectivity is critical for the continent’s transformational journey.

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