Nigeria used to have no indigenous player in the payment industry which focuses on debit and credit cards. With this, two foreign card schemes, Mastercard and Visa, seized the opportunity in the growing sector of Nigeria, enabling fast adoption of ATMs and digital payments in the country, with varieties of their cards, and having their activities efficiently guided in Nigeria. Although the card schemes delivered their services in the best way they could, Nigerians had challenges with dependence on foreign brands for facilitation of local payments.
Some of the challenges were based on costs of production and processing cards which affected customers’ experiences. There was also visible culture gap because many less empowered Nigerians who have lower cash to dispose were unable to make use of these cards. Resultantly, inability to cash dependence and grow a cashless way of life which depends more on code and card was frustrated as the challenges greatly impacted general adoption and usage statistics. This gave Nigerians a reason to own an indigenous card.
Card Scheme was launched in 2011 as an indigenous one.
Recognizing the need for domestication of financial transactions through domestic debit and credit cards, Nigeria launched its own card scheme, known as Verve, in 2011, and extended it further to other African countries. After the launch of Verve, banks were able to process payment cards faster and at affordable cost, granting people access to a readily available and affordable card scheme. A domestically owned card brand enabled every Nigerian to own a card at an affordable cost.
Verve has also revealed the competence of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in the regulation of the industry in sustainable manner, while ensuring local advancement. Its affordability has further earned it acceptance in African countries and across the globe. Regardless of the thrive of Verve, international card schemes still run, majorly for elitist group, with their main services including international payments and cross-border shopping. This has created a collaborative and healthy competition between major card schemes in the country.
Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) partners with Verve.
Interswitch, founder of Verve card, expanded it to East Africa, Kenya, launching the brand on October 29, 2015, in Nairobi, Kenya. The launch of the payment card brand purported a focused partnership with Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) for expansion of the card’s acceptance and payment services in Six major East African markets – Tanzania, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda. Charles Ifedi, Chief Executive Officer of Verve International, stated that expanding acceptance of Verve across Africa and the world is a long-term vision for the business as it will foster a closer partnership between East and West Africa, whilst improving the ease of conducting business in Africa.
According to financial analysts, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been great with moderation of healthy competition among the card brands that has benefitted from the financial sector and customers for many years. Mastercard and Visa have been delivering seamless digital payments, locally and internationally, so has Verve which has consistently ensured innovation and delivery of seamless payments, and expansion to conduct digital and web transactions. Recently, The Verve Card Scheme activated online payments for household platforms which include Spotify, Facebook, Netflix and others.
FG partners with NIBSS to launch a new card scheme.
Additionally, analysts raised concern over recent regulations and policies by the government. The first concern arose when the federal government declared against making international payments with Naira cards over $20. However, some analysts argued that the policy was aimed as a solution to foreign exchange volatility with respect to the Naira and probably some demystification of the services of the foreign card brands. The federal government is also set to launch a new card scheme in January 2023 in partnership with the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS).