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Regional Assessment Exercise Informs the COMESA Retail Payments Platform’s Overall Infrastructure Design and Market Acquisition Roadmap

CBC has been carrying out ongoing field missions with the objective of assessing the status of the regional, and national payment infrastructure in the eight pilot countries (Zambia, Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Egypt, Ethiopia and Mauritius) of the Digital Financial Inclusion (DFI) for MSMEs Program; this exercise will inform the COMESA Retail Payments Platform’s overall infrastructure design; technical, functional, legal and regulatory requirements; estimated cost of equipment; and implementation mechanism.

The missions additionally seek to establish the most viable entry points to the vast MSME cross-border market segment, in the pilot countries, canvassing for early adopter platform participants across the payments ecosystem; they span from commercial and Central Banks and industry associations to FinTechs and Mobile Network Operators.

Furthermore, the missions are aimed at sensitising the market on the DFI MSME capacity building program, which is to be rolled out in 2023 through a soon to be launched e-learning portal. Also being garnered are industry insights on best in practice rollout mechanisms for the integration of the COMESA Retail Payments Platform’s operations with existing fiscal entities and online marketplaces, in such a way that MSMEs’ cross border payments’ pain points are uniquely addressed.

To date, the field mission have been carried out in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya and Mauritius, with the remaining (pilot) countries to be covered in the first quarter of 2023. Great lessons learnt so far, great synergies established, and great collaborations underway in the new year.