Pan African card scheme Verve recently marked its 10th anniversary. The event was attended by Samuel Okojere, Director of Payments Systems Management, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Patrick Akinwuntan, MD at Ecobank Nigeria, Celestina Appeal, Head Card Services at Zenith Bank, Gbolahun Joshua, ED Operations at Fidelity Bank, Stanley Jacobs, Group Head Consumer Distribution at Ecobank Nigeria, Bob Group Head, Nwojo, eChannel Services at First and other Verve partners.
Founded in 2009 by Mitchell Elegbe, the company has grown to become Nigeria’s most sort after card scheme, with over 40 percent market share, and is also issued in 12 African countries and accepted in 21 others.
An offshoot of Interswitch, Verve is Africa’s pioneer payment technology service provider, in its ten years, the payment technology company has metamorphosed from being a local payment service provider to treading in the global payment solutions market.
In partnership with payment giant Discover Global, Verve launched its global card offering Verve Global, this expansion would give access to its holders to pay for goods and services outside the shores of Africa.
Reminiscent of the iconic brand ‘For Us By Us’, Verve card can be regarded as a symbol of Nigeria’s electronic payment identity, designed for Africa’s fast growing economies.
At a time when it was deemed impossible to have a successful debit network in Nigeria and considered extremely risky to do card business in Nigeria, Verve’s parent company Interswitch developed the card standard which Nigerian banks adopted in 2003. The company entered the market with EMV chips, the technology that has replaced magnetic stripe cards, due to its susceptibility to fraud.
Inspired by an image he came across online describing Africa as “the dark continent” and a sound understanding of the cash culture of Nigerians and a desire to change the narrative of the continent once described as “the dark continent” in an image he came across on the internet, Mitchell Elegbe set out to rewrite the books.
Verve has played a crucial role in helping to provide secure payment and also, keep card fraud to a significantly low level because of its value offering to banks and their customers.
Before its entry into the card payment market, Nigeria was underserved primarily by foreign card schemes. Being a cash driven economy, without a credit rating system compared to advanced economies that practice credit based card system, the Nigerian market outlook did not offer foreign card schemes enough incentive to create solutions best suited to meet the needs of Nigerians and Africans.
Although, there have been other homegrown card solutions in the past, Verve has become Nigeria’s most sustainable and Africa-centric solution to date.
The company has two card offerings, the Verve Classic and Verve Global. While the use of the Verve Classic is restricted to the country where it is issued, the Verve Global card is accepted in over 190 countries and territories where Discover, Pulse and Diners Club are accepted.
The CEO of Verve Mitchell Elegbe in his address stated that the card scheme has experienced steady and explosive growth in the payment segment. He said: “Our card scheme has grown from just an idea to solve the payment inefficiencies in Nigeria, into a bouquet of innovative payment solutions for Nigerians, Africans, and the rest of the world. I consider these first 10 years as years of consolidation and growth. We anticipate the next 10 years to be years of massive investment in unprecedented payment service delivery”, he said.
Noting that nothing good comes easy, Elegbe said that the company has had its fair share of turbulent times, but has succeeded because of its people. He said: “Our people have trudged on, ensuring that objectives set are met, projects are delivered, relationships with partners are well nurtured and ultimately, customers are satisfied.
All these have helped the brand to earn its stripes and come this far. Today, the solutions and products Verve has brought to the marketplace demonstrate what can happen to any endeavor when met with the right people, opportunities and environment.”