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Hassen Sheik

Following the advent of large number of ecommerce channels and retail stores, consumers are becoming more aware of their purchasing options and demanding innovative and convenient ordering and payment methods. Resultantly, merchants are offering more purchasing channels, including self-service terminals, in-app mobile purchases, third-party or digital marketplace-based sales, and a variety of contactless and QR Code driven wallet payment methods. Today, consumers are more likely to choose the shopping platform that offers the most convenient shopping experience and seamless payment options.

South African consumers, too, are witnessing this tide of global consumer behavior. According to Hassen Sheik, one of the renowned thought leaders in the African business ecosystem, digital payments in South Africa are in the nascent stages of development. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are getting accustomed to a multitude of payment channels. This, in turn, is incentivizing retailers to ramp up their payment infrastructure across a variety of touchpoints—in-store, self-service, mobile or online ecommerce channels.

Helping retailers (both in-store and online) adapt to this paradigm shift and provide convenient omnichannel payment options to their end-customers is where Ecentric Payment Systems cements its cornerstone. The company is a leading South African PCI DSS compliant payment service provider, offering a comprehensive suite of omnichannel payment processing services and payment card industry (PCI) consulting. Notably, it has developed OmniHub—a multi-payment payment platform that gives retailers access to multiple digital payment service providers as well as alternative payment processing options in a single integrated platform.

Equipped with the capabilities of OmniHub, retailers need not go to individual payment service providers to enable vouchers, gift cards, loyalty transactions or wallet-based payments. Rather, they can leverage the platform for a single one-off integration with all the participating payment service providers, thus offering an omnichannel payment experience to end-consumers. Additionally, OmniHub also acts as a secure gateway for retailers to accept payments through different channels, whether it is from mobile apps, website shopping carts, or even call centers. Hence, it gives their end-customers a selection of payment options to facilitate hassle-free transactions but with no added risks for the retailers.

Under the hood of OmniHub’s Multi Payment Gateway

To help retailers implement a seamless omnichannel payment infrastructure, the Ecentric OmniHub includes the OmniSwitch module—to dynamically route payment transactions between financial systems (acquirers) and financial institutions (issuers). This allows retailers to complete day-to-day transactions quickly and efficiently. At the same time, it allows easy communication between the parties involved in the entire transaction spectrum, from security to the settlement of electronic funds. Besides, the platform enables the retailer’s acquirer to correctly validate given information by customers, for the availability of funds to be confirmed, and for the deduction of funds to occur.

“Following that, all unique transactions (in-store, app, or online) are supported by our company’s enterprise reconciliation software, ReconAssist+,” adds Sheik. It facilitates retailers’ daily audit functions, confirming all transactions are accurately processed and settled by their third parties. Going a step further, Ecentric Payment Systems also offers a counter-to-counter money transfer service for retailers. By connecting banks with merchants, the company enables retailers to offer their customers a service to send money to multiple selected receivers, for a varying array of remittance products.

Notably, Ecentric Payment Systems’ multi payment service model goes beyond just streamlining the shopping experience. This can be best explained through a case study. Until recently, four leading banks in South Africa—Standard Bank Group, FNB Banking, and Nedbank, and Capitec Bank—were allowing their customers to deposit cash only through their respective branches. Ecentric Payment Systems worked with the banks to deploy different touchpoints enabling the banks’ customers to deposit money through nearby retail shops. “Currently, we have deployed 25,000 touchpoints across the country. This facility is enabling the banks to bring banking convenience to a broader base of account holders,” narrates Sheik.

“It has developed OmniHub—a multi-payment gateway platform that gives retailers access to multiple digital payment service providers as well as alternative payment processing options in a single integrated platform.”

Although Ecentric Payment System has already established itself as one of the leading omnichannel payment service providers in South Africa, they do not want to stop pursuing more ground-breaking innovations. On that front, the company is proactively working on projects to deploy ‘tap and pay’ along with ‘scan (QR code) and pay’ in retailers’ POS. The company is also looking to expand its services to in-game purchasing, where gamers can buy in-game assets seamlessly. Moreover, Ecentric Payment Systems will also keep a close watch over the cryptocurrency and digital currency trends. While driving such innovative changes, the company is also poised to expand its consumer base across parts of Africa and the Middle East. All in all, the future seems bright for the company!