Four weeks after Nigeria was issued its last warning by the Egmont Group, it doesn’t seem as though anything has happened to change the course of things. If nothing is done fast, Nigerians are about to witness a disruption when they make international online payments with Nigerian-issued debit cards. How bad could it be? What alternatives do Nigerians have?
What is Egmont Group and What is the Issue?
A couple of weeks ago, we reported that the Egmont Group plans to expel Nigeria in March 2018. With over 150 members, the Egmont Group is the international body that helps financial intelligence units (FIUs) in member-nations to share information confidentially.
Nigeria is accused of failing to make its own financial intelligence unit independent. Nigeria presently has its FIU under the EFCC and Egmont wants that to change. It wants the country to properly define the role of the FIU and make it truly stand alone. The country currently has ”the National Financial Intelligence Agency Bill” ready, but political bottlenecks have stalled its passing.
Nigeria has been on suspension since last year. And with the present deadlock in the National Assembly, it doesn’t appear likely that the country would the pass the bill before the Egmont group completes its conference in Argentina.
What are the Implications for Nigerians?
If Nigeria gets expelled from the organisation, then the country’s financial intelligence unit would no longer be privy to the sensitive information being shared by Egmont member-states. Worse still, Nigerians would witness a high possibility that international transactions would fail when they are made with Nigerian debit and credit cards.
What is more, it could spell a temporary end to trading on eCommerce websites like Amazon, and raise security risks when buying on Ali Express.
What Alternatives Exist?
Very few alternatives exist, though. But the most robust is Flutterwave’s Barter.
Barter is a virtual card creating platform that partners Flutterwave to process international payments in Africa.
Barter leverages Flutterwave’s virtual card API and platform to allow users create an unlimited number of virtual dollar cards. Cash from your local bank account is used to fund the dollar cards for international transactions. Barter virtual cards can be used for one-time transactions or for continuous transactions.
Unlike other online payout platforms like Payoneer, that require identification and account approvals, Flutterwave’s Barter requires only a working email address and your phone number. Leveraging on its institutional support, the platform synchronizes with your bank to get your identification details.
Barter is built upon Flutterwave’s Rave payment platform. Rave is a payment platform used by top companies for hotel bookings, eCommerce billings and travel reservations. Rave makes it convenient for Nigerians to fund their barter accounts with their Nigerian debit or credit cards.
The platform recently added the new option to create Visa Virtual cards. Such cards could bypass any restrictions on international payments placed on Nigerians. Currently web-based, the platform would get an accompanying app later this year.
So if things ever head south, we can be sure that a solution exists to mitigate the problems, albeit a little.
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