Henry Bridge, President, Segovia Technology Inc. & Albert Maasland, Group Head, Crown Agents Bank
The world is constantly changing. From an era of telegrams and coin or fiat currency, we have evolved into a generation of cloud and digital fintech solutions. However, in many parts of the world, access to traditional financial services via bank branches, bank accounts, ATMs etc. has failed to extend broadly across all members of society. In many parts of Africa, financial inclusion as we know has been a pipedream. Industry expert Albert Maasland, Group CEO of Crown Agents Bank observes that across many low and middle income economies, lack of access to rudimentary financial services causes daily challenges for millions of people simply to make the necessary transactions of day-to-day life. As part of their mutual commitment to transform lives, foster financial inclusion, and uplift the local economies of low-income nations, Crown Agents Bank (CAB) and its sister company, Segovia Technology, have emerged as ‘knights in shining armor.’ They are delivering against their combined vision to alleviate poverty by connecting previously financially excluded individuals using innovative technology connecting mobile money technology to local and global payment networks. CAB and Segovia are working hand in hand to create a unique partnership marrying Segovia’s digital, API technology with the security and trusted network and client franchise of the UK regulated Crown Agents Bank.
Segovia’s innovative digital payment gateway, connections to mobile network operators and emerging ecosystem of fintech innovators across Africa combined with CABs trusted banking network provide a secure, reliable platform that helps millions of individuals gain access to basic financial services for the first time. Working together, the Group reduces the cost of cross border remittances and delivery of development aid, commercial payments, and other financial flows. In short, CAB’s rich connections across the developing world established over almost two centuries, coupled with Segovia’s breakthrough API technology, is the combination necessary to reduce the cost of moving money into frontier markets.
Segovia provides the digital payment infrastructure supporting the payment requirements of CAB’s diverse clientele. Be it a FinTech payment business or commercial bank, Government department or NGO, the unified payment gateway supports the execution of everything from single very large payments to thousands of small value payments to be credited to mobile wallets and bank accounts in the target markets. Its language-agnostic, modern framework-based REST API takes the pain out of managing payments and allows companies to focus on running their core business.
“The payment gateway is easy to connect to and flexible enough to support many different types of businesses and use cases,” says Henry Bridge, the President of Segovia Technology. Crown Agents Bank clients benefit from Segovia’s technology to manage domestic and cross border transaction capabilities across multiple distribution channels in different countries across frontier markets. Whether the payment is for the equivalent of 1 dollar or possibly millions of dollars, crossing borders or a local payment, money can be directly credited to a traditional bank account or a mobile wallet.
In many remote regions of Africa, millions of people lack access to banks or ATMs.
Embedding Segovia’s technology into Crown Agents Bank’s payments service will reduce the friction of sending money to emerging markets by improving speed of delivery, increasing reliability, and enhancing the user experience
However, today many now have access to a mobile phone, and even the least sophisticated of mobile phones can be used to provide simple financial services. The Segovia technology makes it possible for NGOs and other organizations operating in remote localities to minimize the transportation of cash, cost effectively crediting even very small sums of money onto the mobile wallets of everyone from refugees to subsistence farmers and small businesses.
“Embedding Segovia’s technology into Crown Agents Bank’s payments service will reduce the friction of sending money to emerging markets by improving speed of delivery, increasing reliability, and enhancing the user experience,” informs Bridge. He explains that Segovia’s scalable payment gateway can handle thousands of simultaneous transactions with low latency, efficiently removing bottlenecks in the fragmented payment landscape. “Mobile money is the fastest growing form of payment across many developing nations,” adds Maasland. The Segovia developed payment gateway is a unified, transparent API platform which acts as an efficient aggregator of payment flows to multiple providers of mobile wallets and delivers accurate payment instructions across multiple endpoints.
Bolstered by the financial footing of Crown Agents Bank, solid anti financial crime control processes, and Segovia’s engineering, clients of the Group have many benefits. The FX and payment services provided to clients of the Group benefit from reduced risk involved in payment processing with a cost effective and secure, low friction service and where necessary benefits from the award-winning currency conversion skills of CAB.
On this path toward empowering progress, the primary factor that sets the group apart from the rest of the competition is value of the complementary skills of Segovia and CAB. The unique amalgamation of Segovia, provider of a payment gateway based on trailblazing technology, and CAB, the reputed, trusted UK regulated bank that is a leading provider of foreign exchange, in illiquid frontier currencies, enables the group to blur the lines of possibility when it comes to financial connectivity. Maasland cites a case study of an International Development organization who wanted to launch a multi-million-dollar cash program in one of the African nations operating with local partners. This program would historically have involved mobilization of physical cash with all the inherent risks this posed. The opportunity to use mobile money services on a large scale was daunting and initially caused skepticism; however, the Segovia connectivity with the major local mobile network operator facilitated the delivery of cash transfers directly to recipients using mobile money. The result was impressive as the recipients were able to successfully receive cash transfers using community-driven communication and transportation solutions.
Henry Bridge mentions that over 10,000 individuals received cash transfers through this one program last year. All thanks to the unprecedented solutions offered by the Segovia and CAB group. Success stories such as this stand testament to the value the Segovia innovations bring to Group customers. Moving ahead, the Group aims to develop ever deeper penetration of payment services across Africa and other developing nations boosting their drive to support greater financial inclusion. ‘we expect significant further growth in the coming years, with the benefit of our breakthrough aggregation service for payments across an increasing number of distribution channels with added benefits from fully integrated currency conversion capability,” concludes Maasland. The group looks forward to continuing to raise its profile with opportunities to increase services almost exponentially in the years to come.