Why card scheme penetration in Nigeria still less than 10% – Interwsitch GCEO


Temmy Adebayo

The Group GMD/Founder, Interswitch, Mitchell Elegbe, has identified Nigeria as a major growth frontier for card scheme because of its huge untapped market, even the scheme penetration in the country still less than 10 per cent.

Speaking with the newsmen during the celebration of Verve International’s 10th anniversary recently in Lagos, Elegbe noted that over 90 per cent of business transactions in Nigeria were cash-based and this, therefore, offers a major opportunity for innovation-driven card scheme brands.

“The Card scheme penetration level in Nigeria is less than 10 per cent, cash is 90 per cent. So any card scheme must be extremely lazy not to do well,” Elegbe said, adding that more card companies were needed to tap into the avalanche of opportunity in Nigeria.

Elegbe made this remark as he analysed the growth trajectory of Verve International in Nigeria, since its launch about a decade ago in Lagos. 

He explained that the card scheme had grown from just an idea to solve the payment inefficiencies in Nigeria, into a bouquet of innovative payment solutions for Nigerians, Africans, and the rest of the world, including Verve Classic card, accepted in Nigeria & 21 African countries & Verve Global card, accepted in 185 countries including U.S, U.K and Dubai.

“I consider these first 10 years as years of consolidation and growth. We anticipate the next 10 years as years of massive investment in unprecedented customer service delivery. In the coming 10 years, we will improve financial inclusion even more and make payment much more seamless and efficient,” he said.

Verve International is expected to benefit from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s renewed attempt to drive the nation’s cashless economy plan. Analysts had said if the plan goes through as expected there would likely be a sharp rise in card scheme penetration in Nigeria.

The new policy on cash-based transactions imposes a cash handling charge on daily cash withdrawals that exceed N500, 000 for individuals and N3, 000,000 for corporate bodies. “The new policy on cash-based transactions (withdrawals) in banks, aims at reducing (not eliminating) the amount of physical cash (coins and notes) circulating in the economy, and encouraging more electronic-based transactions (payments for goods, services, transfers, etc.),” the CBN had said.

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