Unified Payments (UP), Nigeria’s premier payments and financial technology company, yesterday announced it is now offering American Express (Amex) Card acceptance to merchants in Nigeria.
This followed the official launch of the launch of Amex in Lagos, at a gathering that attracted operators from the banks, fintech companies, e-service providers, aviation, travels, hospitality, entertainment industries and a host of others.
In demonstration of its cross-enterprise alliances and capabilities, UP becomes the first establishment in Nigeria to enable merchants to accept Amex Cards as means of payment for goods and services at merchants’ locations in the country.
Under the terms, UP will accept Amex Cards across its networks, and will be directly responsible for recruiting new merchants to accept the cards, and managing existing relationships.
Speaking on the development, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, UP, Agada Apochi, said the move is in line with the fintech’s contribution to the ease of doing business in Nigeria, by enabling merchants to grow their businesses by accepting the use of American Express.
Apochi revealed that the agreement with Amex didn’t come cheap, as UP had been in talks with the American card company for nine years, to overcome challenges pushing back the partnership, which included getting Nigeria off the Amex blacklist.
By this breakthrough, he added, Nigeria is now included on the list of acceptance countries on the Amex official website, thereby, adding to Up’s list of many firsts in its 20-year history.
He explained that UP, originally incorporated as SmartCard Nigeria Plc, and later known as ValuCard Nigeria Plc, has come a long away in financial services facilitation, and “prides itself in its mission statement of professionalism, respect, innovation, dependability, and execution.”
Also commenting, Vice President, Bank Partnerships in Africa, Amex, Catherine Malec, said: “We are pleased to launch our first Nigerian acquiring partnership with UP, and look forward to working with UP to help merchants grow their businesses. Nigeria is an important destination for our card members, and this is the latest step in extending the AXP footprint across Africa.”
Meanwhile, the Executive Director, Business Development, Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS), Oyeniyi Ajao, decried the low level of payment terminals in the country, saying that 2,000 terminals to service a population of almost 200 million is extremely poor.
While commending the board and management of UP for effectiveness and efficiency in the card system as well as facilitating the use of Amex in Nigeria, Ajao charged the fintech to do more, as “there is still a lot of work to do to grow money and expand financial inclusion.”
Noting that there are about one million points of sale (POS) transactions daily, he charged the e-service provider to up its game and bring other card companies into the country, and commended them for the historic breakthrough with Amex.
Bank executives present, were quick to offer their full support for the distribution of the Amex Card, with the Executive Director, Commercial & Consumer Banking, Fidelity Bank, Mrs Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, saying that Amex is a new dawn for card transactions in Nigeria. Attesting to the efficiency of UP, the Managing Director, First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Adam Nuru, noted that the Nigerian financial ecosystem is full of innovations, while Chuks Nweke, Head of Operations and Information, United Bank for Africa (UBA), revealed that in efforts to be the first to roll out the Amex card, UBA has already directed its team to start working on the project.