BankservAfrica – the licensed regional clearing and settlement operator for SADC cross-border payments – has opened the first payment corridor between South Africa and Zambia to enable instant, low-value digital cross-border payments to communities in these economies following SendHome and SamPay becoming the newest participants in the Southern African Development Community’s Transactions Cleared on an Immediate Basis (TCIB) Payment Scheme.

“We’re extremely excited about mobilising these corridors at this time when remittance costs in the region remain concerningly high despite their importance to livelihoods and economies,” says Ruhling Herbst, executive head: Africa Business Development at BankservAfrica. “We are hopeful that today’s development will change this, and encourage people to use this service to send home money affordably and securely. The TCIB payments platform is the digital alternative for sending money almost immediately and at a low cost.”

With an estimated 3,7-million SADC migrants residing in South Africa, the South Africa-Zambia remittance corridor is one of the most significant in the region. However, according to a Zambia National Remittances Study compiled by the International Organisation for Migration in 2022, out of Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe that receive remittances from South Africa, the South Africa-Zambia was the most expensive corridors to send remittances to.

“In the longer term, the enablement of this digital payments infrastructure and the multilateral agreements will have a positive impact on the network effect of the TCIB solution and lower the costs of remittances and cross-border payments,” says Tebogo Diphoko, Africa Strategic Business Development at BankservAfrica. “As a formal, regulated and inexpensive solution, the TCIB solution ensures greater convenience and accessibility, encouraging economic participation and financial inclusion.”

Owned by the SADC Committee of Central Bank Governors and regulated by the SADC Payment System Oversight Committee, the TCIB Scheme is operated and managed by BankservAfrica. Live since 2021, this multi-currency enabled ISO 20022 platform forms part of the broader SADC payments integration roadmap.

Unlike other retail payment systems operating in the region, TCIB is based on the principles of open-loop and cross-domain interoperability for processing low-value cross-border retail transactions by banks and non-banks.