RSwitch Ltd, Rwandas e-payment operator mandated to expand the financial services ecosystem by delivering interoperable solutions, plans to take the Pan-African Payments and Settlement System (PAPSS), to countries in East, Central and Southern Africa. The system was launched last week on January 13. The new system allows a buyer in one African country to make a payment in their national currency and a seller in another country receives payment in theirs, effectively eliminating the need for third party currencies such as the US dollar to complete trade within the continent. Mathieu Rwiyereka, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of RSwitch Limited, told The New Times that PAPSS supports safe and efficient flow of payments across Africa and that they are doing their best so as to go live in the next few months. Rwiyereka said: “We have full confidence it will be highly secure and reliable for consumers and, most importantly, it will facilitate intra-Africa trade. For a country like Rwanda which is in the heart of Africa, it means a lot.” “We are doing our best to ensure that within two to three months we can also go live with PAPSS. In Africa, switches in two countries, Ghana and Nigeria, managed to do so.” Rwiyereka explained that RSwitch is going to connect with PAPSS as a Technical Connectivity Provider – “meaning that commercial banks will be connecting thorough us and we will route them to PAPSS infrastructure.” And here, he meant banks within the wider region, with a primary focus on Rwanda. “Our target is to do it (connectivity) for Central Africa, Eastern Africa, and even in southern Africa within our reach.” During the system’s commercial launch in Ghana last week, Mike Ogbalu, the CEO of PAPSS recalled that the journey started in 2016 with various engagements to understand existing regional payment systems’ pros and cons and how best to approach the establishment of a continental payment infrastructure. In July 2019, African leaders endorsed PAPSS as a key instrument for the implementation of the AfCFTA agreement. The new payment and settlement system is seen as an enabler of the AfCFTA agreement, a flagship project of the African Union’s long-term development strategy for transforming the continent into a global powerhouse of the future. Theoneste Ntagengerwa, the Private Sector Federation (PSF) Spokesperson, said that they are “ready to encourage and mobilise our members to be part of this system.” He said: “I think for Rwandan business operators venturing into different businesses across the continent will hugely benefit from this system. There has been, previously, people doing business but making loses due to extra costs associated with the existing payment systems. “In addition to this, it will make transacting with African business partners easier thus reducing the dependency on non African partners, thus boosting intra-Africa trade just as we want.” It is a process According to Maurice Toroitich, the Chief Executive Officer of BPR, PAPSS is “something great” as it especially comes to address the problem that the continent had by not being able to do business “using our local currencies.” But, he noted, what happened last week was a mere launch and “there is still a lot of work to be done as a local integrator, or partner, in this case RSwitch, must first come in to provide interoperability. Rwiyereka explained that connecting people and institutions to the PAPSS takes a technology integration and binding process. He said there is a process now being undertaken from both RSwitch and the Central Bank to be part of the pioneers of PAPSS. RSwitch has already ratified the PAPSS participation intention and, as noted, currently, “explorations and technical integration activities kicked off” to start using the new platform by especially connecting it to banks that are already working with RSwitch. “There is a protocol called ISO2022 (ISO standard for electronic data interchange between financial institutions) which will be used by PAPSS. This is an advanced messaging standard for exchanging financial information, and this is what PAPSS is going to use.” From 2018, the Rwanda National Digital Payment System (RNDPS) was initiated by the Central Bank to interoperate all financial service providers – banks, telcos issuing e-money, micro finance institutions, Saccos, fintechs, and others – and that system is operated by RSwitch. The good thing, Rwiyereka noted, is that PAPSS and the RNDPS are using the same standard. He noted that RSwitch has established connections with more than 20 financial service providers, including 14 banks, all telcos issuing e-money in Rwanda, one fintech and two microfinance institutions with RNDPS using ISO 20022. “Financial service providers which passed our connectivity and integration tests are the institutions we will take the first front and be significantly easy to connect immediately with PAPSS.” The system’s management team is led by Ogbalu and his deputy, Jean Bosco Sebabi, a former deputy director general of the Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB).