West Africa's Vista Bank Group teams up with Radar Payments
The financial services enterprise which is based in Senegal, is expanding rapidly through a series of successive strategic acquisitions that include First International Bank (FIB) Group in Gambia, BNP Paribas’ Subsidiaries, La Banque Internationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie de la Guinée (BICIGUI) in Guinea and La Banque Internationale pour le Commerce l’Industrie et l’Agriculture du Burkina (BICIAB) in Burkina Faso.
Vista plans to challenge the current banking system in West Africa by delivering a superior experience to retail customers, large enterprises and MSMEs across the region. It is currently the leading bank in Guinea by assets and network coverage.
The news follows on from AfCFTA, the pan-African free trade agreement setting new business standards for 41 countries and 1.2 billion people across Africa to help accelerate economic growth.
The free trade programme promises a change in trading rules, with reduced import export taxes making commerce more affordable for players in Africa. It also means that the volume of transactions will sharply increase and banks in the continent will have to gear up for a pan-African service.
Banking payment solutions for Africa
According to reports, Vista selected Radar Payments by BPC as its preferred partner to drive forward digital adoption in the region. Radar Payments will centralise payment operations at Vista’s tech hub in Senegal, supervising Vista Bank’s activities in Guinea, Gambia, Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone while leaving room for further banks to join its network. It is part of the bank’s growth agenda to expand to Burkina-Faso, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Mali.
As part of the collaboration, Vista Bank will run on BPC’s flagship payment suite, SmartVista to manage card issuance and lifecycle management, payment switching, ATM and Point-Of-Sales management. It will also provide digital channels including mobile banking and e-wallet services.
Vista Bank is also planning to accelerate the issuance of UnionPay International (UPI) branded cards including prepaid, debit, and premium cards, in addition to the acquisition in ATM, Point-of-Sales, Contactless, QR payment, and ecommerce.
Speaking about the new collaboration with Radar Payments, Simon Tiemtore, Group Chairman at Vista Bank, explained, “With AfCFTA, banks have to thi nk pan-Africa first, and realise that we need to step up the game in terms of ease of payment, a critical component to every banking and business experience. As a challenger bank, Vista Bank is taking bold decisions when it comes to its technology stack, forming alliances with the best partners in their own fields. By selecting Radar Payments, the paytech by BPC, we have chosen a leader with a solid reputation in delivering superior global payments processing.”
Evgenia Loginova, CEO of Radar Payments, added, “This partnership was born fro m our shared vision to successfully solve real life payment problems with a high-end, globally proven digital solution that focuses on end customers. Together, with the help of cutting-edge digital payment solutions, we will provide easy, instant and secure movement of money, thereby transforming Vista Bank into a trailblazing player within the continent.”
Zafin: Banking is now in the era of the tech ecosystem
The development of tech ecosystems is placing the future of post-COVID banking in jeopardy. At a time when Big Tech can replicate the functions of traditional financial institutions, what can banks do to retain a grip on the market?
John Smith, EVP Ecosystem at Zafin, has a few ideas. A SaaS cloud-native product and pricing platform for financial institutions, Zafin is preparing the next generation of banks to cope with this precise challenge.
Smith is responsible for the strategic and tactical management of the company’s ecosystem, including the creation of new business models to support growth and differentiation. We asked him four questions:
Q. Have the events of the pandemic caused an irreversible shift in the digitalisation of banks? If so, is COVID the sole cause or are there other factors?
It’s a great question and one that I am asked a lot. Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has driven a significant shift in the acceleration of digital. In fact, I’ve seen some estimates show there to have been as much as four to six years of digital adoption growth since the initial lockdown started.
While the pandemic may be the primary reason for this growth, two other drivers include fintech disruption and the high costs of operating a traditional retail bank. Both of these factors have caught the attention of banking executives as they set their minds on accelerating digital transformation with a focus on high return, low risk.
Q. Some commentators believe banks must learn from Big Tech in order to survive. Do you agree? Please expand.
I agree completely; we’re living in the era of the ‘ecosystem’. All the seismic shifts we’re seeing in technology, be it aggregation, embedded finance, DeFi or hyper-personalisation are all enabled by the foundation of an ecosystem.
When financial institutions work with a strategic partner like Zafin, which has made the strategic investments in a best-in-class ecosystem, they’re able to capitalise on opportunities more quickly and safely, and will be better positioned for growth now and at the other side of the pandemic.
Q. What are currently the obstacles to adopting Open Banking? Is it more likely to 'take off' in some regions rather than others?
I would argue that Open Banking has been in the US for some time and will only continue to grow there. By definition, Open Banking is about the secure sharing of financial information that customers are aware of and have authorised. Under that definition, we’re seeing aspects of this well underway even though its full potential remains to be seen.
Third-Party Providers are a natural outcome of Open Banking, whereby they can create propositions beyond what a bank normally does to enable banking functions such as payments, borrowing, saving and so on. Once again, some of these are already present through industry-led initiatives, whereas regions such as the EU have taken the pathway of regulation such as PSD2.
The industry-led initiatives we’ve seen in the US have also had the added advantage of guard-rails that regulatory bodies like FFIEC and CFPB provide. There are also other technology-led initiatives such as API definitions that are set out through the FS-ISAC.
I would argue the future of Open Banking in North America will be through the natural evolution of the guidelines and API definitions that have been published, as well as the natural progression of industry initiatives.
Q. Are there any other bank tech trends you'd like to discuss?
Coreless banking. Zafin has been pioneering some of the work around externalising functions out of the legacy core to drive a more ‘fintech nimble’ bank, while not having to deliver a ‘heart and lungs’ core bank replacement.
Real life examples of this include moving some of the core functions of a banking system, such as product and pricing to a platform like Zafin. Origination, onboarding, KYC, risk, and compliance are all other examples of externalising banking functions for added agility.