For most Africans, paying for goods or services was a strict cash affair. These days, the story is fast changing, thanks to the advent of technology and tech solutions like Squad springing up every now and then.
On the streets of Africa, the region with more than half its population unbanked, cash is still king, and most transactions involve the exchange of currency notes.
But this situation is gradually experiencing a turnaround, owing to a revolution in the continent’s digital payment landscape, which has since spurred key players to innovate and leverage their existing infrastructure to change the face of payments.
And with Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) providing an estimated 80 per cent of jobs across the continent, simplifying payments to support them becomes crucial. By 2025, Africa’s domestic e-payments market is expected to reach around $40 billion, according to a recent McKinsey report.
One of the solutions addressing the gap in payments on the continent is Squad, a product brand of HabariPay, the fintech subsidiary of Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc (GTCO) and the parent company of Nigeria-based commercial bank Guaranty Trust Bank Ltd (GTBank).
Squad’s unique solution
We caught up with the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Squad, John Babawale, on a call to understand what his team is bringing to the table. He explained that the gap in Africa’s payments system and the cash-dependent nature of transactions led to the creation of Squad.
“Because some of us [the team] worked in banks, we were able to identify some of the loopholes in traditional banking as regards payments and then come up with a solution,” he said.
Launched in June this year, Squad is a complete suite of payment solutions comprising tools to simplify payment processing, accounting and reconciliation, financial management and e-commerce, made for African businesses.
The product prides itself on an all-in-one solution to all problems with payments.
He further noted that the company was birthed from an apparent effort to help small businesses accept payments from different channels. “We believe no business should ever miss a sale because of the preferred mode of payments of the customers,” he said.
Payments for everyone
If anything, Squad is for everyone who needs a payment solution for their businesses, Babawale says about accessibility. On its website, Squad has several features targeted at addressing the specific payment needs of different people.
These solutions include SquadPOS, payment gateway, payment links, storefront, e-invoice, virtual accounts, USSD, etc. He added that though GTBank powers the fintech, users with any bank account can create Squad accounts.
“Despite the fact that we have only been in the market for just a couple of months, we have been to help many businesses simplify payments. So far, we successfully onboarded at least 30,000 merchants and counting,” he said of the adoption.
Turning phones into POS terminals
Its latest product, SquadPOS allows merchants to turn their phones into POS terminals.
With the app, they can accept cashless payments with their NFC-enabled mobile devices, with no additional hardware required. For the uninitiated, NFC stands for Near-Field Communication, a close-proximity wireless technology to send information from one point to another.
NFC is built into most modern android smartphones.
Describes the technology as the first of its kind, Babawale says SquadPOS works like the traditional POS machines, only that the concerns about paper and maintenance are already eliminated.
The setup process, according to Babawale, is simple and direct. First, download the SquadPOS app from Google Play Store on your device and sign in using your registered email or phone number. Next, click on “Purchase” and then add the transaction amount.
Then, you tap and hold the chip on the NFC-enabled card on the back of the phone.
Afterwards, you wait to see the three dots on your screen that indicates a successful connection. Once the dots pop up, you allow the customer to input their pin.
Once the transaction is successful, you can send the e-receipt to the customer.
Cashless is the future
For Babawale, the company is just a starting point to building a cashless economy in Africa, where business transactions can flow hitch-free.
“We have a central goal to make payments digital in Africa. Over the next few years, we will build a couple of products to meet that goal,” he said.
The CTO adds that while pursuing that goal, the team will continue to serve its customers while promoting its products’ convenience, security and flexibility.
“For us, this is just the beginning”, he concludes.
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