SIBOS: TECHNOLOGY & PAYMENTS
Digitally inclusive: BPC has a world view
FORCE FOR GOOD BPC’s Angelo Bertini, MD for the MENA region, Santiago Egas, MD for North and Latin America and Peter Theunis, MD for Europe, on how digital money is changing lives BPC is a global payments company that builds digital technology that aims to make cash transactions obsolete in the not-too-distant future, thus bringing an end to a monetary system invented by the ancient Greeks more than 2,500 years ago. But far from disadvantaging the very poorest sectors of society, as some might fear, BPC believes truly digital economies will be transformative in changing lives by extending financial inclusion. The payments technology expert is working closely with governments and other key stakeholders around the world to help make this step change happen. The sheer scale of the potential in reaching those who don’t have access to financial services is breathtaking, particularly within emerging economies in Latin America, Africa and parts of Asia. In Nigeria, for instance – the biggest economy in Africa – an estimated 80 per cent of the population is still unbanked. But what all these regions also share is extraordinarily
TheFintechMagazine | Issue 13
high levels of smartphone ownership. And, in MENA (Middle East and North Africa) in particular, which is experiencing a demographic bulge, the moment to act is now as almost half of their populations and the most digitally aware are only just becoming economically active, according to UNICEF. BPC argues that a massive opportunity therefore exists to address the global imbalance, boost economies and impact ordinary people. It has already been involved in several successful collaborations, which it is now replicating in other countries. For example, working closely with the Ethiopian government, the company provided its SmartVista technology to unify payment systems among the country’s 17 largest banks. This national switch both encourages more people to open accounts as access to banks is made easier and results in cost efficiencies for the banks as many cash transactions are replaced by digital ones. BPC is now rolling out national switch programmes in other countries in Africa, including Nigeria.
Meanwhile, in Indonesia, it has teamed up with Mobile Tunai Indonesia, to create a ‘marketplace’ model of agency banking that enables people who had no previous credit history to open accounts. By doing so they can take advantage of being part of an open banking ecosystem, which, as well as offering them the ability to digitally pay bills and taxes, also gives them access to credit and, vitally for small businesses like farmers, even a platform to buy or sell goods. Among a host of other BPC projects currently underway is one to develop digitalised payment systems for public transport in countries in Latin America and Africa, with buy-in from governments. Angelo Bertini, MD of its MENA region, is convinced that a smartphone-based digital economy is crucial to the success of emerging nations, with cash or even card purchases replaced by token-based payment rails –such as the governmentsupported CoDi system in Mexico which uses QR codes. “More and more of those governments www.fintech.finance
Fintech Finance presents: The Fintech Magazine Issue 13