Is the pandemic a catalyst for increased usage of digital money?
By Kehad Snydelwel
MD Green Enterprise Solutions.
The pandemic has overwhelmed the globe and here and Namibia has not been spared. There have been some points of light as well. The acceleration of certain developments and the innovations have also occurred because of COVID-19. Adversity always breeds innovation.
One such innovation and development was highlighted by the World Health Organisation (WHO); “Greater adoption of mobile payment innovations should be at the heart of preventive and curative interventions aimed at reducing Africa’s burden of infectious diseases.” This statement came from Ahmed Hamani, finance officer at WHO Regional Office for Africa. It was surprising and pleasing to hear as someone who has believed in going digital with payments for years. I hope this statement will be a motivator for Namibia to embrace digital money.
It’s actually a smart way of approaching the problem money is pretty dirty; going from hand to hand. It falls on the floor, is stuffed into pockets, wallets, bags and as we know, even bras and in the back of nappies to keep it safe. This can transmit diseases without knowing it. But there’s another issue at play, digital transactions allow people to be paid on time without having to be physically there.
It works for people without bank accounts. A real-world example of harnessing digital solutions is with frontline workers involved in immunization campaigns. It strengthened the response to diseases in Africa through rapid and efficient payment. Money is a great motivator and the people working out in the field battling and vaccinating people need to have their allowances on time. This is FinTech in all its glorious form in action. We just need to implement it here. The banks have recently mentioned that NamPay will bring these solutions, but we need it now!
We need to understand that ‘Mobile Money’ is based on complex and very secure technology. When digital currency and money is available to anyone in society, it will be a great equaliser.
This has especially been the case in Africa, where the unbanked now have access to money, to payments to and from them. But it goes much further, just as the man from WHO said. Paying your workers in the field, knowing they getting their money on time and making people feel financially included, that possibly weren’t before. It’s a game changer.
In time we will really see digital payments and transactions of all sizes in Namibia. Just as electric cars once seemed a pipedream, look at the automotive industry now. Progress is inevitable and a force for good when it comes to digital money.
We must just have the will to tackle this complex and very diverse challenge. It’s not just banks pursuing this technology, service providers like PayPal, but also locally here in Namibia we have our very own National Payment Solutions, with many new forms and applications waiting to launch. The power of Fintech really lies with the consumer. If the consumer demands ‘digital payment’ methods; banks, entrepreneurs and companies will find a way to make it happen. Government will legislate accordingly. Embracing it as a Government will empower each and every consumer, whatever their income and wherever they are in the Land of the Brave. We need the banks, the regulators and the public to work together to make digital payments and mobile money available, usable and accessible for all. The ICT-organisations are raring to go and willing to be part of creating the new payment formats and applications.
With organisations like WHO pushing mobile payments and digital currency as well as many countries and their banking systems embracing it, it demonstrated that it is safe. With the added bonus of combating the spread of COVID-19 and making Namibia safer.