On the 20th of February 2020, Interswitch Limited, a leading technology-driven company focused on the digitization of payments across African countries, and American Express (AmEx), held a merchant acceptance launch at Twin Waters, Lagos, Nigeria, to announce a new partnership aimed at expanding the usage and acceptance of American Express Cards across Nigeria.
The partnership is aimed at providing an enabling ground for American Express Cardmembers to transact using a wide range of merchants who process payments through the Interswitch platform, for a range of travel, retail, hospitality and dining expenses, as well as ATM withdrawals. In addition, the partnership will facilitate the integration of Interswitch merchants in Nigeria into the global American Express network.
“AmEx and Interswitch are aligned in our desire to provide fast and secure payment solutions and transactions across Nigeria. With this new partnership, we are improving AmEx Cardmember access to a convenient and secure network, which also benefits our merchants who will gain new opportunities presented by an expanded user base,” said Akeem Lawal, Divisional Chief Executive Officer for Payment Processing at Interswitch. “By remaining card scheme neutral, Interswitch will continue to explore innovative partnerships that will benefit consumers and retailers alike.”
Speaking on Interswitch’s mission to develop the hospitality industry in Nigeria by bridging international economies, he explained the features of Interswitch offer for travel and entertainment. “Interswitch’s offering is specially designed for hotels, restaurants, clubs, lounges, travel agencies, recreation/tourist centres and corporates looking to accept foreign and local cards for payments at their business environment.”
The agreement entails that Interswitch takes up responsibility for managing American Express merchants in Nigeria, as well as delivering new merchants onto its platform. Previously, American Express Cardmembers were limited to using their cards at select locations across the country. This new partnership expands that acceptance to Interswitch merchants, ATMs and websites nationwide.
Lawal also reiterated the commitment of Interswitch to reliably cater to its valued merchants, to reinforce the Company’s mantra of ‘Transaction solutions you can depend on.’ He recommended new merchants join the Interswitch platform, highlighting that the addition of American Express cards can help to expand their businesses. He affirmed this saying that “Interswitch is focusing on building trust. We have the vision to create 100% acceptance for all cards.”
Jeffrey Williams-Edem (Group head; Merchant Acquiring, Interswitch) went further to highlight Interswitch’s mission in developing the hospitality industry in Nigeria. He said, “To build a business tool that enables the hospitality industry to grow and thrive, that is what Interswitch is about”. This business tool which is the Interswitch Smart POS can accept seven international cards, provide multiple payment options (USSD, QR, Paycode), has additional acceptance features – refund and reversal, has an integrated till option, has a reward/loyalty solution and a dispute management platform.
Speaking on the Panel discussion, top management executives in the Finance and Hospitality industries spoke extensively on “Globalizing the Travel and Entertainment Industry in Nigeria – How to close the gaps.
One of the panelists, Jihane El Khoury (Rooms Division Manager, Eko Hotel) explained that “Education, hospitality and working experience can place Nigeria on the international standard as well as maximizing technology to offer better services”. She told Ventures Africa about Nigeria’s preparedness in meeting global service standards within the hospitality industry. Jihane said this as she addressed the role of the hospitality organizations in investing in their people to retain excellent standards in the rapidly evolving sector. She said, “In preparing our people to meet the fast-evolving global standards in the hospitality industry, we follow international trends, utilize international software like Opera which are internationally used to follow trends and evolution of hospitality worldwide implemented in Nigeria”.
Bashir Bello (Director Finance, Sheraton) laid more emphasis on the relevance and role of the people within the hospitality industry, saying that “People are the greatest assets of every organization. If the people are well trained, then excellence is ensured”.
Establishing Nigeria’s potential to acquire a significant space in the hospitality industry on a global level, Bob Nwojo (Head; Acceptance Channel, First Bank) said that “Nigeria is an emerging economy with strong demography coming up and we are positioned to gain space in the hospitality industry.”
The Vice President & General Manager, Global Network Partnerships EMEA for American Express, Vivi Galani, went on to finalize, stating that the new partnership reinforced American Express’s role as a leading global network. She said: “We are excited to be partnering with Interswitch, a well-respected pan-African financial technology company, to continue to grow our presence in Nigeria. As we partner with leading banks and financial institutions around the world, we are bringing the powerful backing of the American Express network to Cardmembers and merchants by expanding acceptance of our cards.”
Interswitch is a leading technology-driven company focused on the digitization of payments in Nigeria and other countries in Africa. Founded in 2002, Interswitch disrupted the traditional cash-based payments value chain in Nigeria by supporting the introduction of electronic payments processing and switching services.
Today, Interswitch is a leading player with critical mass in Nigeria’s developing financial ecosystem and is active across the payments value chain, providing a full suite of omnichannel payment solutions. Interswitch’s vision is to make payments a seamless part of everyday life in Africa, and its mission is to create transaction solutions that enable individuals and communities to prosper across Africa. Interswitch’s broad network and robust payments platform have been instrumental to the development of the Nigerian payments ecosystem and provide Interswitch with the infrastructure to expand across Africa.
ABOUT AMERICA EXPRESS
American Express is a globally integrated payments company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success.
Since 1997, American Express has partnered with a select group of leading banks and financial institutions around the world to issue American Express-branded products and acquire merchants on to the American Express merchant network. By leveraging its partnerships, global infrastructure and the powerful appeal of the brand, American Express has gained even broader reach for its network worldwide.