Startup Rolls Out Biometric Payments in Nigeria
The Nigerian mobile infrastructure is not particularly robust and many Nigerians have no access to mobile phones. Based on the success of India’s Aadhaar deployment Torche Africa will also attempt to deploy a payments network using biometrics. The first implementation used fingerprints but has expanded to support face and palm recognition. The challenges include consumer adoption, merchant adoption, secure onboarding, gaining access to consumer funds, and of course securing the biometric data collected:
“The problem, according to Torche co-founder Sisan Dorsu, is that Nigeria’s payment network is neither convenient nor inclusive. The country’s mobile ecosystem is expanding, but it is not yet fully stable across the entire country. As a result, paying for something at the point of sale can be frustrating and time-consuming, since customers have to wait for a steady signal. By the same token, many people do not have a smartphone, and therefore cannot participate in a payment system that relies on apps and mobile connections.
Dorsu believes that biometrics offers a potential solution to that problem, since the technology gives people a way to prove their identity in virtually any situation. Most notably, a biometric scan can be used to authorize a financial transaction, whether at the point of sale or when sending funds to someone in another country.
Of course, building a program of that scale is extremely challenging. Torche is nevertheless quite optimistic, and is hoping to provide coverage for 50,000 merchants in Nigeria in the next 12 months.”
Overview by Tim Sloane, VP, Payments Innovation at Mercator Advisory Group