A partnership between payment innovation company ExiPay and loans and financial services provider Izwe has resulted in an all-in-one point of sale (PoS) solution, called Izwe Pay, that facilitates payments across mobile money and card payments in Zambia.

It also brings additional value-added services to consumers and merchants, and offers opportunities for use in other countries.

“The demand for versatile payment solutions has grown in Zambia, in line with more businesses and individuals moving to embrace digital payment methods, particularly mobile money solutions,” says Willie van Zyl, group CEO of Izwe.

To understand how the innovative PoS solution changes people’s lives – and merchants’ bottom lines – it is useful to remember that access to digital financial services increased from 48,9% in 2018 to 73,1% in 2022, according to the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA).

In addition, Bank of Zambia statistics indicate that in 2022, the country had 4,89-million telephone banking account holders, and the majority of the 39 301 POS devices in the market did not process mobile payments.

The adoption of mobile money in Zambia ballooned with active subscriptions increasing from 9,8-million in 2021 to 11,2-million subscribers in 2022, representing a growth rate of 13,98%.

The country’s top three mobile money providers (Zamtel, MTN, and Airtel) dominate the market, and banks mainly focus on handling card payments, with only a few of them offering financial services on PoS devices.

Traditional payment processes have lacked innovation and not provided the business tools businesses, especially SMEs, need to support their growth.

“We wanted to bring together everything that makes a difference in our customers’ lives, in a way that a bank can’t do. We are on the ground, close to customers, and we understand the need to offer a solution that really works, rather than taking a cookie cutter approach,” Van Zyl continues.

Izwe Pay streamlines payments and helps merchants grow their businesses. It also allows Izwe to gather valuable data to help the company and its merchants better understand their customers’ needs, and deliver better customer service.

Kulusu Chisola, Izwe Zambia’s CEO, explains: “With Izwe Pay, cashiers and customers don’t need multiple devices to process payments. It’s easy to train users to operate the Izwe Pay PoS device and the system helps to standardise pricing across branches. The product offers an all-in-one solution for consumers, promoting financial inclusion and convenience. It is also a first-to-market solution in Zambia.”

To realise this solution, Izwe became both an investor and a client of ExiPay, which integrated Izwe’s service requirements into a single PoS terminal solution and oversaw the building of Izwe’s payments infrastructure. This included integrations with banks, back-end portals, and connections to the national financial switch in Zambia.

By the first quarter of 2023, ExiPay and Izwe Pay had produced a full proof-of-concept (PoC) solution and, after testing, it was launched officially in November of the same year.

Izwe’s team has benefited from ExiPay’s training on industry-specific language and concepts, gained deeper understanding of the workings of banking systems, and a working knowledge of the acquiring process. This elevated Izwe employees’ expertise from novice to specialist.

ExiPay’s strategy focused on flexibility for both merchants and customers, with a view to empowering Izwe to offer more services on POS terminals. In future, Izwe Pay will offer services that customers would normally only access through banks or insurance companies, such as loans, insurance products, investments and other financial services.

“Although this collaboration aimed to improve the overall customer experience, it has evolved into an initiative that opens up new revenue streams and opportunities for businesses. The success of this collaboration could be a taste of things to come in other countries,” says Helmi de Villiers, head of business development at ExiPay.