RECAP: Who is Interswitch and How do they Enable Payments?




In the last few months, we told you about Interswitch, their products and services as well as their plans for the East African market. Today, we do a recap on Interswitch

Who is Interswitch East Africa  

Nigerian payments company Interswitch Transnational Holdings  acquired a majority stake in Paynet Group. Paynet Group which has since re-branded to Interswitch East Africa was the company behind PesaPoint. The other brands owned by Paynet Group included Electronic Financial Technologies (EFT) and Paynet. Until its sale, Paynet provided services to 70 financial institutions, over 2,000 companies and numerous public institutions. Its PesaPoint atms number to 1,200 with its agency network at 1,300 locations. The sale of Paynet to Interswitch  was meant to offer Interswitch Transnational Holdings an entry point into the East African market and allow Paynet to broaden its footprint into growing segments in East Africa such as Transport.

Interswitch Transnational Holdings is   70% owned by London-based private equity group Helios Investment Partners LLP. Helios acquired the stake in 2011 for $96 million (Kshs 9.8 Billion). Helios Investment Partners has stakes in among others Wananchi Group and recently bought out France Telekom Orange’s stake in Telekom Kenya. Interswitch sees  itself as an enabler of local payments. This means the firm is continually investing in solutions geared towards the African market with solutions keen on impacting the local African users.    

What is the switch?

Interswitch Transnational rose to prominence in Nigeria by providing switching services and electronic payments. Paynet Group owes its rise to prominence to the PesaPoint Interconnect, its central switch.  But what is the Switch?

The switch is a central managed platform that allows financial institutions to route the transactions of their customers. If a user wants to pay for groceries via card or withdrawal monies at the ATM, the Switch serves an enabler of the underlying processes involved. The beauty of the switch is that it allows for different devices to plug-in from ATMs to POSs. It also provides users with transaction authorization by connecting to hosts, interchanges and co-networks. Other additions allow for plugging in of internet payment gateways as well as mobile payments.

Other Products beyond the Switch? 

Interswitch offers products targeting both businesses and consumers (B2B and B2C model).  In the B2B, Interswitch East Africa unveiled the Verve Card, a prepaid debit Card in partnership with KCB Bank. The card links to the use bank account and allows them to make payments on POS terminals, internet, withdrawal cash at ATMs as well as enjoy value added services such as airtime top ups and payment of bills. The card also allows the user to accumulate royalty points for usage, which are redeemable for various items. Other B2C products likely to launch soon include Quickteller, an online, real-time utility payment and money transfer solution.

On the B2B end, Interswitch offers solutions targeting both businesses and government. Pay Direct allows business and government to collect revenues whole minimizing revenue leakages. AutoPay is a disbursement tool allowing merchants to settle accounts with creditors as well as make salary payments.  It also offers WebPay, a payment gateway that integrates with merchant websites thus allowing for online payments.

Why Use Interswitch Solutions?


Local Solutions – In an interview with CNBC Africa Interswitch CEO Mitchell Elegbe said Interswitch sees  itself as an enabler of local payments. Cash is still King in most of the African continent and seeks to tap into this segment and offer users solutions tailor-made for African business. These include Verve Card, Quickteller and the Switching solutions.

Cloud ready platforms –  The solutions offered by Interswitch are cloud ready allowing businesses to better manage payments. Key among these solutions include WebPay payment gateway that integrates with merchant websites to allow for online payments; Pay Direct service allows both business and government to collect revenues as well as AutoPay, a disbursement tool would allow merchants to disburse payments to creditors as well as allow for salary payments.

Proven Technologies-  Solutions offered by Interswitch boasts of a huge number of users, which instills confidence in a user. PesaPoint is a widely used transaction switching solution in East Africa by financial institutions from Saccos to Banks. Verve Card boasts of  boasts of over 20 Million Verve cards users in Nigeria besides being used by major banks in West Africa. Pay Direct solution is used by the Federal Inland Revenue Service to collect taxes. In addition, Interswitch implements 2-factor authentication to ensure security in payments.

Thinking Payments, think Interswitch.