A panel at the ongoing 31st Seminar for Finance Correspondents and Business Editors in Enugu have called on regulators to integrate social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media platforms into Nigerian payments systems.
The experts who made the call on Wednesday in Enugu, said doing so would meet consumers’ needs as well as enhance financial inclusion.
They also spoke on the recent hours-long global outage that disabled the Facebook-owned social media platforms for some hours.
The seminar, organised by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), had “Trends in Nigerian Payments System: Regulating the Fintech Digital playing Field” as its theme.
Uche Uwaleke, Professor of the Department of Banking and Finance, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, said the idea to integrate these platforms is good.
“The point is that it is good to introduce social media platforms where you have many actors in one space such that when something happens to one, people can migrate and so that disruption does not become pervasive.
“A lot of businesses were affected due to the outage, security, markets were affected, including the oil market, but why the disruption was not so much was due to the fact that other actors quickly found an alternative especially in Telegram,” he said.
In the same vein, Mr Chucks Anakudo, Chief Product officer, Accelerex (Fintech), supported the idea but called for extreme caution.
“The recent outage does not necessarily stop the integration of these platforms as payment systems but it calls for regulators to also be aware that such things can happen, and if indeed it happens, what will be the fall back solution.
“I think this will even make it a stronger case if the time comes; like we also know, markets are different, what works in Kenya may not necessarily work in Nigeria,” he said
Mr Akeem Lawal, Divisional Chief Executive Officer at Interswitch, suggested a tighter and stronger security system be built on it to avoid unfortunate event.
“If you want to touch or reach a larger number of people, you need to look for a way to make these platforms part of times payment systems.
“But, the problem is that the kind of security that the social media have are very different from the kind of security that the payments system has and any payments system should use that kind of channel.
“When using that kind of channel, you must understand that you can’t trust the network on Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram, you have to build your security on top of that so that if something happens to your system, it doesn’t compromise the security of the payments system,” he said.
Mr Musa Jimoh, Director, Payments System Management Department, CBN, assured that the regulators would oversee the infrastructure when fully integrated so as to withstand difficult conditions.
“For us as regulators, we use social media to reach a larger portion of the public and it has come to stay.
“We use this tool to sensitise the public as well as using it to play significant role in Financial inclusion.
“But the concern of the regulator is to look at the infrastructure and then strengthen institutions that we supervise along enhancing the system infrastructure.
“But to say we should not use social media, we have no option but to use social media, although regulators will carry out oversight function to ensure that the infrastructure is resilient in totality,” he said.
Jimoh was represented by Mrs Rakiya Yusuf, Assistant Director, Payment System Management Department, CBN.