The issue of digital cross-border payments by SMEs will come under the spotlight at the last in a series of six sub-regional sectoral meetings which have been convened over the last month by the Comesa Business Council (CBC).
They have brought together stakeholders comprising MSMEs, mobile network operators, ICT regulators, commercial banks and micro finance institutions, Fintechs and non-bank operators, under the theme “Harmonisation of Regulatory Policies Towards an Integrated Digital Common Payment Policy Framework for MSMEs.”
“Among the challenges impacting industry competitiveness is the lack of an affordable and effective platform which accommodates digital cross-border payments by SMEs,” says Sandra Uwera, chief executive officer of the CBC.
In an effort to address this challenge, CBC’s ‘Digital Financial Inclusion programme’, piloted in 9 countries (Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia), is expected to catalyse the transition of MSMEs from a cash-dominant to a cash-lite economy, where they have access to affordable, interoperable, secure, and real-time digital financial transactions, says Uwera.”
The CBC has been implementing the programme to support the design, development and deployment of an integrated digital financial services infrastructure that is low cost, interoperable and fraud resistant, and that serves micro small and medium-sized enterprises, particularly women and youth, at the bottom of the financial pyramid.
Amongst the expected outcomes, says Uwera, is increased access to, and uptake of digital financial services by previously underserved market segments, the MSMEs, particularly those participating in cross-border trade. “This will spur on their formalisation and also boost intra-regional trade, contributing to the regional integration agenda.”