Africa and Nigeria specifically have a banking problem. Even though there are about  4,437 commercial bank branches in Nigeria, there is still a large population who are financially underserved. Only an estimated 45% of Nigerians have bank accounts. A 2021 report by the World Bank put the global unbanked population at 1.7 billion with over half of this population coming from seven economies, including Nigeria. These millions of Nigerians who have no access to modern financial services are excluded from an essential part of the modern world. If people have access to financial services they can send and receive payments, save efficiently, and invest. Having access to products such as credit, investments, insurance, and savings, enables them to start and expand businesses, sustain their households, get educated, and absorb financial shocks. They can create employment for themselves and others, increase financial security, and reduce vulnerability to poverty which benefits the whole economy. The problem is that the available financial institutions and existing financial solutions are inadequate to tackle the problem of financial exclusion.

The Xpress Payments solution

The desire to tackle this problem head-on was what led to the creation of Xpress Payment Solutions Limited (Xpress Payments). Xpress Payments is a payment service provider that has acquired multiple licences from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to provide seamless payment solutions to every demographic.  

The fintech company offers an impressive variety of products and services including:

  • Payment Gateway by PayXpress Business: This rather long name is a short way of saying that this payment gateway is powered by Xpress Payments. This means it has the Xpress touch which is an easy, fast, and secure payment service. Payment Gateway by PayXpress Business is a one-stop vendor solution. States, Businesses and schools can connect to  the payment gateway to receive their payments online. Users can also set up online storefronts on the platform to display their products to customers globally and receive payments. Users also get a link to share with customers to receive payments. This payment link eliminates the need to give out bank details to customers and it is also convenient for customers because it enables them to pay through multiple methods.
  • Xpress Payments also has PayXpress for value-added services such as airtime/data recharge, cable subscription, electricity unit purchase and bill payment including government levies; eCashier; XpressPayout for bulk payments; and the XpressPOS for merchants as well as agency banking.

In a conversation with Dr Markie Idowu, Group Managing Director/CEO of Xpress Payments and latest chair of the Women in Technology in Nigeria (WITIN) advisory board, she tells us how Xpress Payments was established in 2016 with the CBN’s financial inclusion drive in focus. Xpress Payments was established to democratise the payment industry and make access to financial services more affordable, efficient, secure and accessible to all demographics and locations across Nigeria. The company takes great pride in offering its variety of services. In Dr Markie’s words, “What truly sets us apart, is the diverse range of products we offer, each designed to address specific needs. We acquired the different CBN licences that inform the different categories we operate under to ensure we can provide seamless payment solutions across the entire value chain for all Nigerians.” 

“We operate under the CBN switching and processing licence category, which enables us to offer a range of services including transaction switching, payment solution service provider (PSSP), payment terminal service provider (PTSP), third-party processing (TPP), and non-bank acquiring agent. Our Agency Banking network with about 40,000 agents nationwide enables us to offer comprehensive coverage across all regions of Nigeria processing billions worth of transactions every month. We also wanted to be able to help states collect their IGR seamlessly and so we developed solutions for them. Today we handle collections for three states: Oyo, Delta, and Ogun,” she said.

These impressive range of products and impeccable services Xpress Payments offers won them the Africa’s Most Outstanding Payment Solutions Company of the Year award for three consecutive years (2021 – 2023) by the Pan African International Magazine. In a continent teaming with fintech solutions clamouring to cover the unbanked, the company has maintained its relevance by getting to the root of customer banking needs. Its ever-abiding mission is to make life easier for all through seamless payments.

Asked what she attributes their unwavering success since 2016 to, Dr Markie cites a focus on clients and having a great team. Since its inception, Xpress Payments has remained innovative and technology-driven. They have kept the company dynamic and forward-looking to ensure excellent service delivery to their customers. “Our focus remains steadfast on the dynamic young demographics that form the bedrock of our target market. To cater to their evolving preferences, we continually refine our products and introduce new features,” said Dr Markie.

A dedicated team

The COVID-19 pandemic posed unprecedented challenges for businesses globally. Millions of lives were lost and so were businesses. For most companies, pivoting to remote work after building a system that relies on in-person collaborations was the biggest challenge. Xpress Payments was able to surmount this challenge due to team commitment. Sharing the same motivations as a team and dedication to the company’s overall goal let them come out of the pandemic better and stronger. 

On the list of things this team is proud of is their commitment to gender equality and the successful projects they have embarked on with this goal. Through their agency banking product, they have uplifted women who have gone on to uplift other women in their communities. The company has signed up a lot of women on its platform and provided them with free POS machines, collateral and training to manage this business. Financially empowering women helps them empower their communities at large. Speaking about this, Dr Markie says, “Our company is one that strongly embraces the DEI philosophy – Diversity, equity and inclusion. We strive to treat all people and groups fairly and encourage the full participation of all, particularly people from vulnerable groups such as women. Our Agency Banking which operates across the entire length and breadth of Nigeria, driving financial inclusion at the grassroots, is one that deliberately seeks to reach and empower as many women and women-owned businesses as possible and onboard them onto the platform so they can earn a decent income or increase their income stream.” This gender equity initiative goes beyond just the agency banking and is promoted internally, Dr Markie tells us.  “At the company, we have pursued a deliberate policy of gender balance that has sought to empower more women and help them climb to leadership levels and executive positions.” With men dominating executive-level roles in most companies nationwide, the existence of the Xpress Payments women helps push the corporate world closer to a gender balance.

On the future

Xpress Payment Solutions Limited envisions a future where Africa’s businesses seamlessly connect with the rest of the world. The company is simplifying payment processes and enhancing accessibility with the core strategies of technovation and unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction. This drive has led them to expand into underserved regions in Nigeria. In future, they plan to take this solution to the rest of the continent. In the words of Dr Markie, “Our ambitious plans for the future include extending the reach of Xpress Payments beyond Nigeria and expanding our presence throughout Africa. We aim to become the continent’s preferred choice for e-payments, providing nations across Africa with the opportunity to experience the democratisation of payments. We aspire to offer our comprehensive suite of services and solutions, making payments easy, fast and secure for all.”

Find out more about Xpress Payment and its suite of solutions here.

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