20th Anniversary Celebration Of The Interswitch Group
PRE-RECORDED GOODWILL REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF THE INTERSWITCH GROUP ON THE 14TH OF JANUARY, 2023
Let me thank the Chair of the board of directors of Interswitch group Sir Kenneth Olisa, the founder and Group Managing Director, Mr. Mitchelle Elegbe for the kind invitation to join you all at this 20th Anniversary Celebrations.
It’s incredible that what began as a novel idea to facilitate seamless payments across Africa, has in barely two decades become something of an icon of technology and innovation literally pioneering Africa’s ongoing FinTech revolution.
In 2002, only 569 million people were connected to the internet worldwide and at that time, Nigeria as a whole had less than 200,000 people with internet access. In fact, PayPal, one of the pioneering electronic payment companies in the internet age, was barely four years old at the time.
It is therefore a testament to the quality of the talent, and courage of the founders of Interswitch that they saw the future clearly and predicted the potential of a nascent technology for scale and application.
Through two rigorous decades of accelerated change, the company has thrived beautifully, Today, Interswitch is perhaps the leading company at the forefront of agency banking and financial inclusion in Nigeria. It is I’m also told, the largest and fastest-growing private sector-led domestic card scheme in the world. These are indeed remarkable feats by any measure.
Africa’s domestic e-payments market has grown by 20% annually in the last two years and is projected to hit around $40 billion in 2025. It is estimated that around half of all future digital payments will come from Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Ghana, and Kenya, with Nigeria experiencing the fastest growth at 35% per year.
A lot of this is of course owed to the trailblazing efforts of Interswitch.
Your rapid expansion, serving, already, customers in over 23 African Markets, is an ample demonstration of growing vitality.
Quickteller and Verve, extremely sophisticated payment systems, have become integral parts of the country’s overall payment architecture, expanding even further across the continent. Your Application Programming Interface, (APIs) have also been key to enabling numerous other Fintech businesses to operate successfully across Africa, supporting millions of consumers and merchants across the payment value chain.
It is through innovative disruptions that human beings have managed to resolve their most complex challenges and stay ahead of the survival curve. Oftentimes these ideas are championed by mavericks who find better, safer, and more cost-effective ways for us to live, do business, and govern; slight tweaks that improve our overall experience, and complete overhauls that lead us into new paths altogether.
Innovative disruptions thrive on natural and human-occasioned gaps within the system. And there are many here in Africa. Which is why our continent is undoubtedly the next and possibly the last frontier.
All across the continent, there are yawning gaps waiting to be plugged by innovative ideas and entrepreneurial efforts. And it is exciting to see how sprightly young people particularly, are rising to the challenge and the accelerated pace of creative disruptions in their wake.
Our responsibility as a government has been to meet them halfway, and perhaps outpace them with corresponding creativity in providing forward-thinking regulatory frameworks and adequate infrastructure.
Nevertheless, there is still so much to be done, there’s still a lot of ground to cover. I have no doubt though, that we are up to the task.
In 2021 alone African Tech Startups raised over $4billion in funding with over 564 startups across the continent solving critical problems in almost every sector. Within the next two decades, Africa’s workforce will be the largest in the world. They are skilled and they are coming. As a result, more innovative disruptors will yet emerge to plug more of these gaps.
I must also mention the refreshing social consciousness in some of the recent initiatives that Interswitch has undertaken. Your current investments in the transformation of the healthcare industry, working with six state Governments across the country, is nothing less than fantastic! This is indeed a happy mix of two crucial industries.
As innovation and technology open exciting new opportunities in medicine and healthcare, we can rest assured that Nigeria will not lag behind.
It is easier to start a business than to sustain it profitably through the socio-economic and political upheavals of the time. This typically requires strong leadership and corporate governance.
We trust that as you celebrate 20 years of corporate existence, this significant milestone will serve as an inspiration to the millions of young entrepreneurs across the continent who are throwing their hats in the ring to build better nations and stronger economies across the continent.
We wish you many more productive years in the front line of change and innovation and we join individuals and businesses everywhere, many of whom have been impacted by your strides as a company in the last two decades, to say congratulations, and thank you for your contributions.
We are incredibly proud of you.