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Empowering Cross-Border Trade: COMESA’s Prepaid Cards Program and Regional Payments Platform Proof of Concept Kickoff

The recent 3-day training workshop on the COMESA Prepaid Cards Program has marked a monumental step towards bolstering financial inclusion, particularly for women cross-border traders. Held from the 18th to the 20th of September 2023, this initiative, led by the Digital Financial Inclusion Program for MSMEs in collaboration with UBA Zambia and the Zambia Cross Border Traders Association (CBTA), signifies a significant stride in promoting economic empowerment across the COMESA region.

Addressing Financial Exclusion Challenges

The workshop aimed to empower individuals excluded from the formal financial ecosystem due to challenges such as the lack of access to traditional financial services in remote areas, limited financial literacy, and insufficient capacity required for a traditional bank account. By tackling these obstacles head-on, the initiative aims to foster a more inclusive financial landscape.

Comprehensive Training Highlights

During the intensive training, participants were equipped with vital skills and knowledge, including understanding the features and benefits of the COMESA Prepaid Card, mastering secure cross-border payments, navigating online trade, reducing costs associated with transactions, accessing formal financial services in remote areas, and capitalizing on opportunities for online trading.

Empowerment through Training of Trainers (ToT)

Employing the Training of Trainers (ToT) model, the initiative seeks to provide practical solutions for participants engaged in cross-border trade. The overarching goal is to empower individuals to thrive in the digital economy, fostering financial security and independence.

Launch of Prepaid Cards Initiative

Following the successful training workshop, the launch of the Prepaid Cards initiative for cross-border MSME traders in COMESA was announced, with Zambia serving as the pilot country. Developed in collaboration with UBA Zambia and the Zambia Cross Border Traders Association, this initiative presents a game-changing opportunity for traders by offering affordability, security with EMV chip-enabled cards, and versatility for both online and in-person transactions.

Driving Inclusivity and Accessibility

These prepaid cards, with their convenience, security, and accessibility, are set to catalyze greater participation in intra-COMESA trade, particularly benefiting SMEs in remote areas, enabling them to actively engage in regional commerce.

Crucial Steps: Proof of Concept (POC) for Regional Retail Payments Platform

Simultaneously, the kickoff of the Proof of Concept (POC) for the Regional Retail Payments Platform in the Zambia-Malawi trade corridor was announced. Spanning two months, this phase precedes the full production environment and is spearheaded by ThitsaWorks in collaboration with LexTego, laying the groundwork for seamless cross-border payments and enhanced financial inclusion in COMESA.

A Journey of Transformation

These initiatives underscore a dedicated mission to promote Digital Financial Inclusion throughout the region, marking pivotal milestones in the journey toward a more financially inclusive and connected COMESA. Anticipate more updates as these groundbreaking projects continue to redefine the landscape of cross-border commerce and financial accessibility in the region. Stay tuned for an exciting journey ahead!