BankservAfrica processes close to three billion low-value interbank payment transactions each year with a value of approximately R8 trillion.
In South Africa, we have a 45-year history that includes several world firsts. These include Saswitch, same-day cheque clearing, real-time clearing (RTC), early debit order (EDO), electronic funds transfer (EFT), and the integrated cash management system (ICMS).
We are proud of these achievements and excited about the path we are on – one that captures the technological innovation of the emerging digital economy and brings us full circle back to our original purpose: to build mutual digital infrastructure that connects economies.
Using this core purpose to guide us, we have developed a strategy that will help us better serve our payments community. The thread running through this strategic blueprint is our emphasis on ‘mutuality’: stakeholder collaboration to develop infrastructure that supports our community and the economies we all serve. This is the bedrock on which we are building a world-class payments infrastructure.
For a strategy to be effective it must be lived in the organisation. We have spent a large amount of time as a team understanding the intricacies involved in achieving our strategic aims, unpacking BankservAfrica’s priorities, and planning how to operationalise these principles as part of our everyday work. Through this, we have created a roadmap that embodies and guides our direction, structure, and priorities and gives shape to the organisational restructure we underwent during 2016.
Our two-year goal focuses on achieving excellence in South African payments; our more ambitious five-year goal is focused on excellence in regional digital infrastructure. We understand that we need to enhance the trust and confidence of customers to achieve this, while developing a reputation for delivery. This is the commitment we make to our owners.
The South African payments evolution
Our priority is on the projects addressing the challenge of payments modernisation. We consider this a ‘stay in business’ priority for BankservAfrica. It also has long-term implications for South Africa’s economy. We need to succeed in this process to avoid falling behind the world’s leading digital economies. Successful payments modernisation will provide the support South Africa needs for growth. A project of this size and impact requires world-class, large, industry-wide project management.
To keep up with the demands of business and consumers and the future payment needs of our economy, we must approach payments system modernisation scientifically, inclusively, holistically, and collaboratively.
The design process is critical and, as an industry, we need to find a way to navigate this fundamental change and do so systematically. System design doesn’t happen by itself, it needs intense collaboration.
We believe that co-created networks are more likely to succeed than government-built networks or compliance-driven outcomes. The base of good payments systems is empirical research that is inquisitive, inclusive, intentional, and gets business to lead.
Developing a solution for Africa by Africa
Payments infrastructure is the plumbing of every national economy, which makes it so important for regulators and financial institutions to get it right. It is critical that those involved understand the implications for success and failure in this arena – a well-designed payments infrastructure can fast-track economic development and financial inclusion on the continent, while unstable plumbing will hamper growth.
Africa is facing a ‘leap-frog’ moment. As economies develop, we have the opportunity to roll out modern systems that combine all of the best practices from global leaders without the legacy issues. We are aware that the challenges in Africa are vast and unique and that a one-size-fits-all approach does not work for payments systems.
We look forward to engaging with our African peers as we work towards forging a shared vision to develop African economies through a regional payments system that harvests Africa’s potential.
BankservAfrica is midway through a shift from commercialisation and diversification to mutuality and infrastructure. A change of this size impacts all aspects of the business. Alignment and coordination are critical. We need to successfully negotiate that shift and establish the trust of stakeholders and their belief in our ability to deliver change, then the objectives we have set for ourselves become achievable.
We extend thanks and gratitude to our board for their contribution, guidance and support as we have realigned BankservAfrica to its core purpose.
On behalf of our leadership team, we also thank our BankservAfrica team. The last 18 months have seen a significant amount of change within our business as we found our way back to our core purpose and then worked together to understand how best to structure ourselves to meet our goals in terms of our purpose. We have been asking ourselves difficult questions and making big changes in the business, all to better serve our stakeholders. The level of engagement and commitment from the BankservAfrica team has been inspiring. Thank you for your dedication and passion in moving us forward.
To our payments community members, we are excited about the year ahead and look forward to working with you to move South Africa and the African continent forward.
Chief Executive Officer
After nine years of service as Chairman of the board, Manne Dipico has decided to retire in 2017. The Board thanks Manne for his leadership and commitment to BankservAfrica and the communities we serve. We wish Manne well for the future.