Archive for the 'Payment system' Category

Payments messaging booms in Africa

Payments and securities transactions are growing faster in Africa than in any other part of the world, according to data from financial messaging institution SWIFT. Traffic volumes of payments information in Africa grew by 13.2% for the year to date compared to the same period in 2014, surpassing Asia Pacific (Apac) at 12.6%; the Americas at 12.1%; and for the “EMEA” region which includes Europe, the Middle East and Africa at 6.9%, or 8.8% growth for SWIFT worldwide.
Traffic between African countries has also been booming, good news for those who believe that Africa should focus on building competitive links and bringing the securities markets together.
SWIFT is a member-owned cooperative that connects more than 10,000 financial institutions and corporations in 212 countries and territories and provides a communications platform, products and services. Its SWIFT Index is seen to anticipate economic (GDP) growth in advanced countries, because the SWIFT infrastructure is so widespread that it picks up on increased levels of activity, particularly on commercial payments and transactions messages (MT103) on its systems.
Here are some examples of stand-out growth in SWIFT traffic in different countries (%age growth year-to-date compared to same period last year):
• Angola – payments traffic grew more than 78%
• Ghana – payments traffic rose by almost 30% and securities by almost 55%. Ghana has seen average growth of 27.2% since 2013
• Kenya – payment message traffic rose by 23.1%, while securities-related growth was 122.3%
• Nigeria – average yearly growth of 29.1% in traffic since 2013
• Tanzania – payments rose by 32.9% and securities by 45%
• Uganda – payments were up by 17.5% and securities by 31.6%.
The growth has been sustained for several years. Africa’s total SWIFT traffic rose by 44% over the last 3 years, of which payments rose 42% and securities information was up 37% across Africa.
For the first quarter of 2015, traffic from South Africa was 53% of traffic in Africa, compared to 72% in 2003.
Christian Sarafidis, Deputy Chief Executive EMEA, SWIFT, highlighted the value of SWIFT data in the story it tells about African economies: “The figures show strong organic growth across Africa and in East Africa particularly, and serve as validation of the positive growth trends we are witnessing in the region.”
Hugo Smit, Head of Sub-Sahara Africa, SWIFT, says: “Africa is an important market for SWIFT. Once again it has outperformed most of our other regions and has proven itself a critical component of our global business. Because the continent has such huge growth potential, we are continuing to invest more resources to support the local financial community. It is very heartening to see such impressive growth in West and East Africa, where we are currently opening new SWIFT offices.”
African corridors are becoming stronger. For the full year 2014, SWIFT data shows that 52% of the traffic sent from Africa stayed within the African zone, up by 16% on the year before and the highest growth rate for intra-African traffic. The trend was even more pronounced in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, where 55% of traffic sent from SADC stays in SADC, and the region is recording record growth, up 16.2% for the full year 2014 compared to 2013.

African financial innovators
SWIFT’s African Regional Conference (ARC) 2015 is happening this week (5-7 May) in Cape Town. One highlight is bringing Innotribe’s fintech Startup Challenge to Africa. The Startup Challenge introduces the world’s brightest start-up businesses to highly qualified financial service experts, angel investors, venture capitalists, and global leading fintech and financial decision makers. Innotribe is SWIFT’s financial technology innovation initiative and in the 2015 challenge, SWIFT Innotribe will have a round dedicated to fintech companies from across Africa, who will come to Cape Town in order to pitch to investors.

About SWIFT and the index
SWIFT is the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication. It was founded in 1973 and still has its headquarters in Belgium. The SWIFT index is based on data on SWIFT MT 103 messages, a specific format that enables the bilateral transfer of information about payment transactions between customers of different banks or financial institutions. SWIFT says it is “the de facto global standard for cross-border single customer credit transfers and is used primarily for commercial rather than low-value retail payments”.
Wikipedia gives a run-down of the different SWIFT message types.

SWIFT operating centre (Source: SWIFT)

SWIFT operating centre (Source: SWIFT)

Visa helps towards remittance target cost of 5%

Report cover by the Overseas Development Institute.

Report cover by the Overseas Development Institute.

On average Africans are paying on average 12% ($25) to send $200 home, which is twice as much as the global average. According to UK thinktank Overseas Development Institute (ODI): “The global community pledged to cut remittance charges to 5% by 2014, yet this ‘super tax’ shows there is a long way to go. Our report urges governments to increase competition in money transfer remittances and to establish greater transparency on how fees are set by all market operators.”

In addition, many African businesses are finding it harder to get access to banking services as banks are tending to shy away from countries where they see more risk and less profits, after a couple of years of massive fines by US regulators on global banks for their global operations. This means that there are less routes to send money to Africa, last year there was a fight to keep the last legitimate banking payment lifeline to Somalia, offered by Barclays, open. Cutting this would have ended many transfers including remittances and aid.

According to a story in Business Day of 16 July, the World Bank, Group of Eight (G-8) and Group of Twenty want the price charged by banks and money transfer operators to send remittances to and from Africa, as well as within the continent, reduced to the G-8 target of 5%, from the average 12.4%. It says that payments technology company Visa is working closely with South Africa’s banks and retailers to open more corridors for consumers to send remittances more cheaply.

ODI said 2 money transfer operators — Western Union and MoneyGram — account for two-thirds of remittance transfers. Remittance prices are even higher between African countries, according to the World Bank.

According to the Business Day report Visa has launched a programme “at a ‘tenth of the price of the traditional players’ using its network connecting banks across 200 countries, to send money from one Visa card to another, Visa sub-Saharan Africa head Mandy Lamb said in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

“Consumers can send money via cellphones, a bank branch, an ATM, internet banking or a point of sale machine at a retailer, in real time. Equity Bank in Kenya was the first sub-Saharan bank to launch the programme last year.

“Visa is certifying some banks and retailers in South Africa to allow them to offer remittances. Some are to start the service between now and the end of year, said Ms Lamb.

“‘In South Africa we have seen a great interest in banks wanting to offer remittance as they have seen the business case … it is lucrative for them and meets the World Bank requirements in terms of bringing down the costs of remittance,’ she said.

“Retailers are also interested in sending and receiving remittances as they have realised it is ‘commercially viable for the lower end of the economy’, said Ms Lamb.

“Visa research estimates that around $73bn was sent via money transfers in sub-Saharan Africa in 2012 and this would grow at double-digit rates to $101bn by 2017.

“This is a substantial opportunity for Visa which benefits from remittance flows, disbursement flows and prepaid cards in the market. By 2017, Nigeria would account for $55.8bn in remittances, Kenya $27.5bn and SA $17.6bn, according to Visa.

“Remittances sent from outside Africa would be the fastest-growing market, expected to amount to $38bn by 2017 — or 27% of the total remittance market. This would be an increase from $19bn in 2012 when this category made up 20% of the total remittance market.”

BaDEx getting ready to launch as Zambia’s second securities exchange

A new securities exchange in Lusaka (Zambia) is installing tried-and-tested bond and derivative trading software and says it will be ready to launch operations next month, May 2012. BaDEx has trading platforms that include spot and derivative trading in bonds, currency, commodities (such as derivatives on metals and silo certificates on the spot market) and a variety of other derivatives including agricultural commodities, precious metals, equity and energy.

There is also a central scrip depository system (CSD) with a separate core management, risk solution, surveillance and settlement systems and platforms. The CSD will apparently link to CSDs in South Africa, Europe and the US and with the central Bank of Zambia’s real-time gross settlement system.

BaDEx, also known as Bond and Derivatives Exchange, reports that it was licensed by Zambia’s Securities and Exchange Commission on 1 January 2012 and the licence covers all securities under the Securities Act – bonds, equity, derivatives and commodities. It has signed a contract effective 12 March with South Africa’s STT (www.sttsoftware.co.za, which has also provided the JSE’s  bond trading software for many years), for STT to immediately deploy trading, clearing, settlement and surveillance systems, and systems for auctioning government securities that will be suitable for the central bank, among others.

Dominic Kabanje, CEO of BaDEx, told AfricanCapitalMarketsNews that the exchange is a public-liability company owned by “banks, pension funds and private companies including the major securities dealers in Zambia”. He says they started with 6 local stockbroking members (approach stockbrokers Madison Asset, Integral Initiatives, Intermarket Securities, Laurence Paul Investment Services, Pangaea Renaissance, African Alliance Securities for more information) but are also looking for remote members, working with a South African merchant bank.

Mr Kabanje said they are now doing primary listings. BaDEx will start secondary trading using an online, Internet-based platform when the systems go live and are also seeking to partner with an international clearing house. In a press release he said they had been excited for 18 months: “We are glad to have finally concluded and signed the contract with our software systems vendors. STT applications have been tried and tested in the South African financial markets at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), who have used this software for the past 18 years.

“We are currently setting up a network of domestic and foreign-based settlement banks, local and remote foreign members and dealers, institutional underwriters, a clearing house as well as primary panels of domestic, regional and international investors. We plan to link up all willing domestic and regional banks, institutional investors, pension funds, treasury departments, the local central bank, the government debt management office and the local member brokers to our system by providing interfaces and online access to our platforms.

“We will also shortly join the international community of CSDs in South Africa, Europe and the United States initially to facilitate faster and smoother clearing of international securities transactions. The applications from STT and others will enable us to do this and in addition will allow us to compete internationally for bond and derivatives business”.

“I do not see any obstacles from the Zambian side for companies wishing to list. Even SA companies can list on BaDEx. We want Zambian companies to dual list on JSE and BaDEx. At BaDEx we are implementing SADC protocols on the free-trade area as well as enhancing intra-regional trade. An exchange is one such conduit for regional trade. We will, however, have to deal with the problem of exchange controls in SA.”

Michelle Janke, STT’s Managing Director, said the company was happy to reach further into SADC: “We have worked closely with the executives of BaDEx for more than a year, and the closely formed relationship will stand us in good stead over the coming months whilst we deliver all the software applications and prepare the new securities market in Zambia to go live. We hope that in due course through an ongoing cooperation between BaDEx and regional merchant banks we can assist in transforming Lusaka into a key financial hub within the SADC region. We will be there to make this happen operationally.”

Products to be traded include: corporate bonds, municipal bonds, currency futures and options, interest-rate derivatives (including swaps), equity derivatives and commodity derivatives on underlying copper, cobalt, gold, oil, wheat, soya and maize spot markets, bond derivatives market, spot bond market, spot and currency derivatives market, commodities derivatives (including metals) and the commodities spot markets (with silo certificates), agricultural derivatives market, spot equity and equity derivatives markets, precious metals derivatives market and energy derivatives market.

Bank of Kigali IPO lifts Rwanda Stock Exchange: 52% gain on first day

Interest in share offers is high in Rwanda, after shares of Bank of Kigali (BK) rose 52% to RWF190 in their first day of trading on 1 September. The Initial Public Offer (IPO), which opened on 30 June and ran for a month, offered the shares at RWF125. According to today’s market report (5 September) total trading today was 5 deals in BK shares which ended at RWF172 (it closed on Friday at RWF 191) and in brewer BRALIRWA which was unchanged at RWF246.
The BK shares offered included a sale by the Government of its 20% stake and the bank offered a further 25%, making a total offer of 300.3 million shares for a total value of RWF37.5 billion ($63.6 m). This was 274% oversubscribed with Rwandan investors making up 75% of the shareholding. The retail investors’ pool was oversubscribed by 291%, institutional investors from Rwanda 165%, institutional investors from the region 221%, international investors 330% and BK employees and management 135%, according to a report in the East African newspaper.
The bank plans to use the IPO funds to expand its network including opening 44 branches in 2011, increase the loan portfolio and consolidate its leadership position in the increasingly competitive banking industry. The listing should also boost activity on the young RSE, Africa’s newest stock exchange which was launched on 31 January
Lado Gurgenidze, chairman of the BK board, is reported in New Times newspaper saying: “The transaction and new capital comes at the right time when the bank is focusing on building a great bank and retaining the leading position in the market. Through great service and 45% of the shares being in the hands of the public, we have all the reasons to be optimistic that it will be very liquid on the secondary market.”

Investors waitng for more offers
It is the fourth listing on the RSE. When it launched in January it immediately started trading the shares of the first domestic IPO, brewer Brasseries et Limonaderies du Rwanda BRALIRWA (www.bralirwa.com). This had been offered at RWF136 and started trading at RWF220. The other two counters are cross-listings from Kenya: Kenya Commercial Bank and Nation Media Group.
Reuters reports that appetite for shares is likely to be strong, partly because of the favourable pricing. The BK shares were offered at a multiple of 1.4x book value, a 15% discount to Kenyan banks at the time of the sale. The article quotes Nkoregamba Mwebesa, managing director of CFC Stanbic Financial Services in Kenya, saying: “Being a government exit, the Government is able to offer a discount which will attract (investors). We should continue to see appetite for all that. Rwanda is also stable politically, and that encourages investors as well. When the Government is exiting they don’t care about dilution. They are not out to really make money. The agency reports that market players said the main aim of the government was to help kick-start the bourse.
Future share offerings are likely to attract sustained interest, including government plans to sell a 20% share in the country’s biggest insurer Sonarwa (Societe Nouvelle d’Assurance du Rwanda – Nigeria’s IGI owns 35%). It is also hoping to sell shares in what Reuters called “an unidentified cement firm”, although earlier this year Ciments du Rwanda Ltd was mentioned.
Government has also held talks about selling its 10% stake in telecom operator MTN Rwanda. MTN Group is majority shareholder and has the right of first refusal on any share sales. John Rwangombwa, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, reportedly said earlier this year: “We have two options; if MTN gives us (Government) the price we want, we will sell the shares to them directly while the other option is through an IPO depending on the other investor.” (as reported on this website)
The Minister had also said that Government would sell more of its stake in BK later. It owned 66.3% before the offer.

T+2 settlement here, electronic trading “by June”
On 3 August the RSE announced that it was adopting a T+2 settlement cycle for all securities with effect from 5 August. Sellers of securities receive money and transfer of ownership is effected on the third day. This replaced T+5 for equities and T+3 for bonds. The new system was made possible after the Central Bank of Rwanda (BNR) introduced a modern payment system, the Rwanda Integrated Payment and Processing System (RIPPS), which offers real-time gross settlement (RTGS), an automated clearing house (ACH), an automated transfer system (ATS) and a central securities depository (CSD).
Reuters reported that the next step would be electronic trading and other steps to attract more stock and debt issues. Robert Mathu, chief executive of Rwanda Stock Exchange, was reported as saying: “We are hoping to put in place an electronic trading platform by June next year.”