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  • Deji Ajomale

How Payment Acceptance Deficit Limits Tourism Growth in Africa

VISA is the official charge card for Russia 2018 FIFA WORLD CUP. The brand has been latching on to the platform of the opium of the masses called Football, for more than a decade. MasterCard as a partner of The PGA Tour sponsors The Open Championship, Arnold Palmer Invitational. The brand also sponsors European Championship, Roland Garos among others. The rationale behind the decision is simple. These events hold in countries where payment acceptance infrastructure is periodically upgraded for resilience, cracked redundancy and ease of payment across platforms. Therefore, tourists/fans feel like they carry their world aboard the plane to venues, just by having preloaded debit or credit charge cards in their wallets. This results in sales for the charge card brands, travel merchants, hospitality businesses, banks, locals and the government. Here is my personal experience. Last year, I was on tour of West African golf courses. I got to Accra and was graciously hosted by the best kept secret in getaway havens among resorts in Africa - Lansdown Aburi Resort. It was the second day of the Accra Open in Achimota Golf Club. I had run out of cedis. It was so bad I couldn't buy a bottle of water. Thank goodness, the resort driver was on standby to take me back to Aburi. I had my Naira MasterCard with me and was confident that my bank has a branch in Accra and that means I'll be able to make withdrawal. I got the shocker when I visited the branch on Lagos Avenue, East Legon, and was told it wasn't possible. Well, they said I could pay for products and services through point of sale machines. I tried a few places where network prevented transactions. That's a deterrent for a total foreigner to Africa. Then I had to travel to the suburbs where PoS sounds like a nuclear weapon to some locals. How do I make purchase and pay without cash? For an example, lack of cash and PoS in the history - emitting town of Elmina robbed me the experience of accessing about a half million years old Elmina Castle and buying a memorabilia I loved. I eventually had to chat up the GM of Lansdown Aburi Resort, who was away in The States, to instruct the accountant to give me some cash, which I paid back using my card on their PoS, just so I don't encounter the problem of a PoS on holiday and inability to withdraw at the ATM. Well, it seem better in Ghana than in Nigeria. Partly because of the steady power supply. Let's now imagine that 500,000 visitors are to visit Nigeria, for a world cup, with heavy purchases, without cash. 500, 000 charge cards descend on our worked up payment acceptance infrastucture. Imagine they need to visit Ado Awaiye hanging lake or Olumirin Waterfalls and they need to make payments. Even I, as a citizen, will not bank my hope on a PoS in the suburb, when most of the ATM there are like installed public art and nothing more. I have only spoken about PoS and not other most recent payment acceptance solutions that haven't circulated our cities, how much more the suburbs. This is not to mean that PoS, MasterPass etc. don't work. It simply means that they are strongest in the city and are not even in full circulation. It means that our systems aren't enjoying upgrade to really catch up with on-the-move modernity. Payment acceptance infrastructure is not a perk for living or visiting the city in a country. It is a commerce viability opium that must be evenly distributed. Allow me free you from such imagination, because it holds nothing but nightmare. Even FIFA will feel terrible for choosing to give the hosting right to us, when our payment acceptance infrastructure is still in deficit. It will do us a whole world of good to acknowledge the fact that payment infrastructure solutions is a knight that cannot be taken for a pawn in the game of luring foreigners to our countries, on the platform of sporting events, business and leisure travel. If you haven't registered for The African Sports Tourism Summit, follow the link before the seats are all taken

Prince Deji Ajomale-McWord is the President of African Sports Tourism Week and a principal partner at MPG Luxury Sports. Deji writes from Lagos. He can be reached on


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