Cellulant, a leading Pan-African financial technology company, provides digital payment solutions to individuals, businesses, and governments across Africa. The company’s offerings range from payment processing to mobile banking and include digital lending services as well. In a recent interview with the CEO of Cellulant, Akshay Grover, he shared insights into the company’s operations and the challenges they face in the African market.
One of the ways Cellulant operates is by connecting banks to the mobile money world, which allows for seamless cross-border payments. Another key aspect of their operations is working with African diaspora to send money home, whether it be to a bank account or mobile money wallet. They also provide merchants with a range of payment methods so that customers can pay using their preferred option. This is particularly beneficial for small and medium-sized businesses that may face challenges in accepting a variety of payment types.
In terms of onboarding new customers, Cellulant offers both automated and traditional processes. Customers can register on their website, complete the relevant KYC processes, and be live within 24 hours. For larger enterprise customers, the process can take up to three weeks due to the complexity of their operations.
When asked about how Cellulant navigates the challenges of working in diverse African markets, Grover explained that the company operates in almost 35 markets in Africa and has a legal presence in 18 of them. They have direct contracts with mobile network operators and banks in each market, allowing them to understand the needs of customers and the nuances of the local market. This approach has made Cellulant a global African player, with a deep understanding of the local market dynamics.
Addressing Cellulant’s big challenges, Grover said, “One of the most pressing challenges that we have encountered is the limited availability of US dollars required for cross-border settlements with merchants operating in different countries, including Africa. Many merchants demand settlement in US dollars, rather than local currency, necessitating our purchase of US dollars for settlement. However, the availability of US dollars has significantly decreased in numerous markets in the past 12 to 18 months. This presents a significant challenge that we are currently facing. It should be noted that this challenge may not necessarily apply to local merchants as they typically prefer to receive payments in their local currency.”
He went ahead to say that another challenge Cellulant is working to overcome is the continued preference for cash payments over digital payments. While the progress of digitization has been noteworthy, the level of acceptance of digital payments varies significantly from one market to another. It is imperative to recognize that each market in Africa is unique, with distinct challenges and opportunities. Therefore, it is essential to approach each market with an individualized strategy that takes into account its specific needs and preferences.
I also asked him about Cellulant’s approach to customers’ data and he said they have strict protocols in place to safeguard customer data and ensure information security and data governance. Cellulant holds ISO 27001 certification for all of its processes and systems. Additionally, they are PCI DSS certified, which is a critical security protocol for credit card transactions.” We comply with numerous external and audit certifications to ensure adherence to relevant laws and regulations. Most importantly, we prioritize the protection of customer data and information in accordance with applicable country-specific laws,”said Gover.
Lending Product for businesses
During the interview with Cellulant CEO, Akshay Grover, he mentioned the company’s plans to launch a pilot program in Zambia that aims to provide working capital finance to small and medium business merchants. This initiative is expected to revolutionize the industry and benefit merchants who often struggle to obtain financing from traditional channels due to stringent requirements. To overcome this, Cellulant has leveraged artificial intelligence to analyze payment history and form a credit scoring view on these merchants.
The company plans to partner with banks and financial institutions to lend working capital finance to these merchants. Grover expects the pilot program to launch in late quarter one in Zambia, pending approval from the government, with plans to roll out to all major markets in the next two to three quarters.
Overall, Cellulant’s digital payment and lending solutions will help to drive financial inclusion in Africa, by providing access to affordable credit and enabling seamless cross-border payments. With their deep understanding of the local market and innovative approach to overcoming challenges, Cellulant is well-positioned to continue to grow and make a positive impact on the African economy.