10 predictions for digital payments in 2024

A lot is going to happen in 2024, but do you want to know what they would be?

I have been making annual fintech predictions for so long that I should be a certified babalawo by now. Unfortunately, most of these predictions never come to pass. 

Interestingly, some of these predictions have been on point such as a major player getting acquired; Payments Services banks flopping; CBN cashless policy failing; rise of agency banking; eNaira eating dust; etc. 

Many have also stubbornly refused to come true; rendering me a digital Nostradamus. Visa refused to buy Interswitch and Mastercard refused to buy Etranzact; transfers never became free

But then missing the point is what predictions are all about; getting excited about things we don’t know and probably won’t happen. 

In the grand scheme of things, to err is human and to predict, is human as well. Let’s see what 2024 has got in stock.

#1 Crypto gets banned again

The Central Bank of Nigeria recently unbanned crypto and everyone threw a party. But we keep forgetting why they got banned in the first place. Truth is crypto doesn’t offer much value beyond the ability to move tons of money around without governance which tends to attract the wrong sort of crowd. 

Once this gets abused again, and it will definitely be; a new ban would land and this could be permanent or the requirements so stringent that it’s a technical ban.

#2 Nigerian banks screws up cNGN stablecoin

In unbanning crypto, the Central Bank of Nigeria also said that banks could have stablecoins. I laughed in Ijesha. Is it the same banks that can’t handle simple fraud issues; get QR to work on their apps; and keep their best hands;  that would build and run stable coins? 

Sure, CEOs would drag their helpless CTOs to try something out but they will all fail spectacularly.💣

Nigeria banking and crypto are like oil and water; everyone should just stay in their lanes.

#3 Direct debit comes of age 

Cards ruled the payments world for decades. Then faster payments came along. In Nigeria, interbank transfers beat the hell out of cards. But cards still rule the internet and subscription payments like an aging African dictator. 

Maybe not for long; NIBSS, Paystack, OnePipe, Mono, and Lendsqr (yes, let me throw that in) have been hard at work making direct debit sexy and it’s probably going to explode. 

Direct debit is going to be the fastest growing payment method since virtual accounts.

#4 Interbank crosses 20 billion transfers in a year 

When you do a transfer and the money appears in your recipient’s bank account in seconds, it’s probably the guys at NIBSS doing magic. Transferring money has been growing faster and faster each year since 2011. 

In 2023, Nigerians sent more money through NIBSS in a day than they did in the whole of 2015. That’s over 365x. 

The ease of transfer is so unprecedented that maybe this is the year that 20 billion alerts will ring across the network.

#5 Open Banking goes live 

We have been at this for too long. By June 1, it would be 7 years since I have been shilling open banking across Nigeria and Africa like a snake oil salesman. This time around, I am not predicting, I’m begging the gods of whatever to just let this go live so I can focus on other things. I’m not young again.

#6 Banks and Fintech crack on fraud

The Nigerian payments space is now synonymous with fraud. In 2023, over N14b was tracked to have been lost with many pundits privately saying this was grossly underreported. However, different stakeholders from FintechNGR CEO Committee (I’m a member), to the Central Bank of Nigeria, and even NIBSS, are all planning an all-out offensive against fraud. 

You can’t understand how painful fraud is until you have lost money or your entire career upended because of fraud. The worst that can happen isn’t just to lose money, but to spend months in detention for a fraud you don’t know anything about.

#7 Agency banking evolves

Agency banking was one of the fastest growing fintech segments for about 4 years and that led to the rise of Moniepoint, Nomba, and MTN Momo. But the market is getting saturated; margins are thinning out; and agent loyalty is now as rare as a unicorn riding a Yeti. 

But knowing the smart guys around payments, trust them to build more values on top of the agency ecosystem. What could this be? Delivery; address verification; last-mile lending; returns drop-offs; etc. Whatever brings extra is god-send.

#8 A major player gets acquired

With the Nigerian economy so badly hit and the Naira falling faster than a meteor; valuation of Nigerian fintechs have taken such a bad hit that most can’t even afford to do a raise as it would be at a significant valuation discount. Yet, most of those who haven’t died are doing a good job. 

It means those alive are now cheap as hell to buy; with cash runways now measured in days and weeks; it’s a matter of time a good one with solid fundamentals is snapped up. 

#9 More fintechs bite the dust

The funding winter has proven to be long, harsh, and deadly. Every month we get inundated with burial ceremonies of one fintech or the other. Unfortunately, the funding pandemic may last longer and even more startups will die in the early part of the year than ever before. And it’s simply because most are running out of gas and funding conversations are not funny.

But for startups who manage to stay alive, expect glory from 2025.

#10 NQR finally found legs

Paystack, Moniepoint and Nomba have been doing a number with tabletop payments in the last 18 months. Walk into any shop and you see a cardboard or plastic with QR code or account number to pay into. The reason why this hasn’t caught on is because Nigerian banks have been poor with their QR code payments. Of the 20 major banks, you can only pay with QR on just 6 of them.

But things could change this year because #1 CBN could whip banks into shape, forcing them to make this work and then customers could use them or #2 fintechs and others would use shame or moral suasion to make banks do the right thing.

If NQR pans out; it could blow up payments.

Wondering what happened the previous years and the predictions? Read about my takes for 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023.

Author: dejiolowe

Adédèjì is the founder of Lendsqr, the loan infrastructure fintech powering lenders at scale. Before this, he led Trium Limited, the corporate VC of the Coronation Group, which invested in Woven Finance, Sparkle Bank, Clane, and L1ght, amongst others. He has almost two decades of banking experience, including stints as the Divisional Head of Electronic Banking at Fidelity Bank Plc. He drove the turnaround of the bank’s digital business. He was previously responsible for United Bank for Africa Group’s payment card business across 19 countries. Alongside other industry veterans, he founded Open Banking Nigeria, the nonprofit driving the development and adoption of a common API standard for the Nigerian financial industry. Beyond open APIs, Adédèjì works deeply within the fintech ecosystem; he’s the board chairman at Paystack. Adédèjì is a renowned fintech pundit and has been blogging on technology and payments at dejiolowe.com since 2001.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.