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Paypal and Transferwise might be some of the most used payment gateways on the African continent, but were founded by international companies. However, we’re more interested in payment processing platforms founded right here in Africa and are at the forefront of African fintech. But before we start, what exactly is a payment gateway?

A payment gateway is a piece of software that acts as a middleman between a merchant and customer (cardholder) to process payments. It enables the speedy and secure transfer of the customer’s payment data to the merchant. This allows for transactions of funds that protect the customer’s confidential card details through the encryption of the information on the card. A payment gateway also validates these card details while at the same time keeping them protected, checks that the card has sufficient funds. It delivers the acceptance or decline of the payment to the cardholder. If the card is accepted, the payment gateway facilitates the transaction so that the merchant receives the funds.

Payment gateways help to prevent fraud during transactions and enable quick cashless payments. They have become increasingly widespread in Africa; international payment gateway service companies have been penetrating the African markets for years. However, African countries are increasingly founding their own payment gateways which have also become widely adopted. Most successful ones have been founded in South African and Nigeria, two of Africa’s four fintech hotspots.

These are some of the best payment gateways founded in Africa.

VoguePay – Nigeria
VoguePay is one of Nigeria’s most successful digital payment platforms. Founded in 2012, VoguePay is an e-commerce service and payment gateway with a similarity to PayPal in that it allows its users to send and receive money to one another through their accounts. Before VoguePay was launched, Nigeria had only one other major payment platform option, Interswitch, which charged a huge amount for integration ($1,000). When VoguePay came onto the scene, it offered completely free integration – a refreshing change, to say the least.

It’s a great solution for e-commerce store owners, however, it only allows for larger transfers of funds – users in the US must withdraw a minimum of $1,500. The cost of transferring funds via VoguePay is 1.5% of the payment amount.

A big pro of VoguePay is that it allows for worldwide transfers in all global major currencies, and the mobile app itself is free, although there are a lot of fees involved in performing transfers.

SnapScan – South Africa
One of South Africa’s first-ever mobile payment apps, SnapScan launched in 2013 and has been a hugely popular payment processing solution ever since. Supported by Standard Bank, SnapScan combines its technology with Standard Bank’s financial expertise and infrastructure.

It integrates with POS to process secure, fast payments. What makes SnapScan so well-known and popular is that in order to make a payment, all a customer needs is a smartphone with the app downloaded on it, which they use to scan a merchant’s SnapCode (the merchant displays this in the store) and instantly make the payment transfer. The merchant receives payment confirmation via SMS. No cards, no paper, not even a PIN code are required with SnapScan.

Yoco – South Africa
Simple to use due to being extremely user-friendly, the Yoco plugin enables e-commerce sales and has no upfront costs. Another major advantage of Yoco is that it enables users to track both online and in-store payments and sales, and monitor their store’s performance, in one place. It does so by integrating their WordPress stores with Business Portal.

Yoco was founded in 2015. In 2020, it introduced its standalone card machine Yoco Neo, which differs from its original card machine in that it can process payments without the need for Bluetooth or a smart device. This innovation was part of an effort by Yoco to remove the structural barriers to the financial system faced by many small businesses and enable greater financial inclusion.

The company saw notable growth last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic and is now used by more than 120,000 merchants (a step up from the 80,000 merchants using it in March 2020.)

Paystack – Nigeria
Paystack, a startup founded in Lagos, was acquired by Irish-American financial services and software company Stripe for over $200 million at the end of 2020. The digital payment gateway first caught the eye of Stripe in 2016, when it became the first-ever Nigerian startup to get accepted into the Y Combinator, a world-renowned American seed money startup accelerator which is known to be very difficult to get into. In 2018, Paystack and companies such as Tencent and Visa took part in an $80 million funding round led by Stripe.

Since the acquisition, Paystack went on to launch in South Africa this year.

Making its mark in the global as well as the local market, Paystack has grown into an international platform for credit and debit payment processing and continues to go from strength to strength and empower businesses to grow.

Flutterwave – Nigeria
One of the globe’s fast-growing digital payment service providers, Flutterwave is famous for providing the most advanced, quickest payment technology on the African continent, allowing for instant payments to be made. Founded in Nigeria, it has expanded its operations into international markets such as Britain and the US.

The company aims to provide an easy way for African businesses to go global and accept payments across the continent and the globe, and so far, it’s succeeding. It offers six secure payment options through its platform and is popular among Nigerian Betway customers – Betway is a British online sports betting company – as it has no charges when processing funds into your Betway Wallet. This is enabling Nigerians to earn from sports betting in a way that is easier than ever before.

Flutterwave is also extremely popular among African freelancers, offering an alternative for receiving payments from clients other than through bank accounts, which can involve tedious processes and delays. It provides a great solution for getting paid as a remote worker, which is especially important at this time when COVID-19 has forced many to turn to remote freelance work.

PayGate- SA
This South African online payment provider, founded in 2006 by DPO South Africa, enables its customers (who span the continent) to accept payments online with all payment options and all currencies. It is a useful solution for African business owners who wish to expand globally and avoid the hurdles of dealing with bank payments. PayGate is also said to be the best choice for South African merchants to accept online payments.

Pesapal – Kenya
At the forefront of digital payment solutions in Kenya, Pesapal enables users to make and receive payments online and via mobile from anywhere on Earth easily and safely. Started out of Nairobi in 2009, Pesapal launched a POS, Pesapal Sabi, in 2016, to rival Shopify, Paypal, and Square which own similar products, adding an in-store payment solution to its list of services.

Money Matrix – South Africa
With an accessible, user-friendly, and simple system, this streamlined payment processing platform was devised as a much cheaper payment processing service for businesses in South Africa and is a popular choice among business owners who are new to the industry and require a service that handles all areas of payment. Users can have payments processed for all kinds of payment methods, including debit and credit cards, EFT, vouchers, e-wallet, and more.