Paylican, Accelerating Shift To Digital Payments

Yan Gascon, CEO of Paylican, sheds light on how payment platforms play a crucial role in promoting financial inclusion, increasing revenue, and driving economic growth. He demonstrates how the Paylican platform transformed and accelerated international trade in Western Africa with customs by facilitating $1.7 billion USD of transactions in 2023.

  1. How can financial technology and digitalization of payments help governments increase their revenue?

Fintech and digital payments provide benefits to governments in several ways. Digitalizing payment processes increases revenue through real-time and secure transactions, reducing potential leaks. Governments can further boost revenue by consolidating services like taxes, utilities, and social benefits into a single invoicing and payment platform. Fintech and digital payments simplify citizen payments, streamline government administration, and enhance transparency and efficiency.

Implementing a national payment platform reduces costs by sharing a unified solution and infrastructure across government bodies. It also accelerates and streamlines the addition of new services or government entities. This modern approach starkly contrasts the traditional approach of allowing each government body to select and implement such projects. The traditional approach has a high risk of implementation failure, resulting in multiple unintegrated digital platforms.

Finally, the centralization of payments brings incredible value in terms of data gathered that provides valuable insights into revenue flows and allows cross-checking of information. Governments can optimize these insights to build a data-driven culture and governance.

  1. What do you think are the key benefits of fintech for African countries and economies?

Fintechs are helping African countries by providing everyone with access to digital financial services, breaking down barriers of access, and empowering individuals and businesses with convenient payment solutions. It drives financial inclusion, allowing marginalized populations to participate fully in the formal economy and access economic opportunities.

Fintech companies streamline payment processing and automate compliance procedures by leveraging technologies such as artificial intelligence and mobile banking. In Africa, where traditional banking infrastructure is inadequate, fintech fills the gap by offering alternative financing options and digital payment platforms tailored to the needs of local communities. It stimulates entrepreneurial activity, dynamizes job creation, and fuels economic growth.

  1. Tell us about your digital payment platform and the system it integrates?

Paylican is a leading digital invoicing and payment platform for governments and businesses. We have transformed the payment processes in Guinea, Benin, Niger, and Panama, offering an all-in-one solution designed to empower businesses with efficiency, transparency, and control.

The platform is integrated with commercial and central banks, mobile money providers, and card processors, ensuring users can process transactions across various banking institutions 24/7. Paylican uses mobile money and card providers to enable users to access digital payment services on their mobile phones, even in remote or rural areas where traditional banking infrastructure may be limited.

In 2023, Paylican transacted more than 1.7 billion USD, demonstrating its significant contribution to economic activity in the region.

The platform leverages its deep integration with banks’ core banking systems, facilitating the inclusion of cash and cheque transactions into the digital process. This integration improves financial operations and offers merchants a secure and rapid payment collection process without intermediaries or the need to handle physical cash and cheques.

Paylican’s invoicing system digitizes and normalizes the invoicing process, giving customers centralized access to all their invoice history and settlements.

Leveraging data analytics and AI capabilities, the platform also incorporates a self-reporting tool, empowering users with actionable insights for data-driven decision-making.

  1. What role does your platform play in trade facilitation?

Paylican plays a crucial role in transforming international trade in Benin, Guinea, Niger, and Panama. The platform enables 24/7 payments without customers needing to visit customs offices physically. This shift to digital payments has eliminated the constraints of traditional banking hours and physical locations, allowing transactions to occur at any time and from anywhere with an internet connection. Consequently, the platform has drastically reduced the time for clearance of goods at customs and reduced delays.

Integrating with the United Nations Trade and Development System AsycudaWorld and Webb Fontaines’ suite of solutions, such as Customs Webb, the Port Community System, and the Single Window, has significantly accelerated and improved the payment process. This native integration ensures that Paylican and the customs systems communicate efficiently during the clearance process. Our platform is tailored to meet the specific business needs of customs operations, enabling us to address post-entry management and efficiently distribute funds among multiple beneficiaries. As a result, customs authorities have experienced an increase and accelerated collection of revenues.

  1. What is your vision for the years to come and the challenges that will need to be overcome?

We are looking to continue our growth and will focus on adding new governmental and private merchants in our countries of operations and new territories. Promoting a national payment platform is key to our future, but we will also fully consider the inclusion of private companies that can benefit from our platform. We will continue to leverage our regional partnerships with payment actors to extend across the entire continent. We will continue to improve the platform through innovation around AI and ensure the highest quality of services to our customers.

Unlocking our full potential requires addressing a set of challenges imposed by the nature of our activity. The issues that we are facing include:

  • The lack of digitization of business processes for merchants.
  • The varied technical maturity of our payment partners depending on the country.
  • Users’ lack of confidence in new technologies. 

To address these challenges, we are educating merchants about digitalizing administrative processes and proposing solutions to kickstart their journey to digitalization by bridging the gap between their business application needs and our platform.

We achieved a significant milestone by integrating with over 30 payment partners, primarily banks. It is a strategic competitive edge for Paylican in our different projects, factoring in diverse levels of information systems integrability and cost inefficiency. We will leverage such expertise to deliver high-quality, cost-effective payments in new geographies. 

We are adapting to local specificities and raising awareness of how our solutions benefit customers, payment partners, merchants, and the broader economy. We will reinforce our change management principles and cement our position as a catalyst for financial inclusion and economic growth in the region.

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