" ITREALMS: Govt’s role critical in e-payment growth – Elegbe

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Govt’s role critical in e-payment growth – Elegbe

Managing Director, Interswitch Nigeria Limited, Mr. Mitchel Elegbe has identified government’s role in electronic payment (e-payment) as crucial step toward making the platform a success.

He also said that participation in the entire process of electronic payment by the government and its institutions remain cardinal to increased penetration and acceptance of the e-payment system.

Speaking during the annual Techno Interactive Conference in Calabar organised by Interswitch, which was attended by representatives of all the banks on the theme, ‘Leveraging e-Payment Channels in a Downturn’ he said the participation of government in this area should incorporate all levels of government namely local, state and federal government.

Additionally, Elegbe said, the low level of development in the country’s e-payment framework is attributable to poor participation and acceptance of the model by government, stressing that successive governments still do not understand how e-payment works and how such could be harnessed to benefit governance.

He said if government does not appreciate the importance of leveraging e-payment platforms to drive general administration and governance; it would be difficult to access the gains of technology required to penetrate the polity.

He noted that despite available channels to drive e-payment, most governments in Nigeria lack the roadmap to leverage on the needs and demands of the populace.

Dwelling on the role of Interswitch in the whole process, Elegbe said though with over 100 million transactions monthly, the company was not growing the way it should due to factors tied to the global economic downturn, noting that things were not out of hand, because certain measures could be taken to ameliorate the situation.

The Interswitch boss explained that the company was aware that things were tough economically now; jobs were being lost, there had been a huge drop in spending, card users are scared to use their cards because of increased cases of fraud, and the movement to chip & PIN technology was also causing some challenges.

He, however, said the card company was not resting on its oars to make card users have better experience despite the down turn, and the commitment of government at various levels will further improve the situation.

In the same vein, the Commissioner, Ministry of Finance, Ogun State, Mr. Kehinde Sogunle, said government through technology deployment could enhance internally generated revenue (IGR) process.

He said through the deployment of the Direct Payment System in Ogun State, it had led to the increase of its IGR from N150million to N1billion monthly, adding that more effects in terms of revenue generation were being expected in a few months.

According to Sogunle, technology has given room to good forecasting, planning and budgeting while curbing various anomalies that had over the years characterised the revenue generation process of government.

“There are many gaps and leakages in the system. In addition, a good database which technology provides is important. This will stimulate economic activities, and facilitate the entire development process as far as governance is concerned,” he said.

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