The Pan-African Payment and Settlement System – PAPSS – enables the efficient flow of money securely across African borders, minimising risk and contributing to financial integration across the regions.
Whether shopping, transferring money, paying salaries, dealing in stocks and shares or making high-value business transactions, PAPSS’ real-time infrastructure provides a reliable, cost-effective answer for instant payments.
PAPSS works in collaboration with Africa’s central banks to provide a payment and settlement service to which commercial banks, payment service providers and fintechs across the region can connect as ‘Participants’.
At a time when cross-border trading is high on the agenda with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement now a reality, PAPSS is primed to facilitate the expected increased volumes in cross-border payments.
PAPSS is the brainchild of Afreximbank, Africa’s pre-eminent trade finance institution, whose mission includes stimulating the expansion, diversification and development of African trade.
Afreximbank recognised that for Africa to unlock its massive potential for internal trade, enabling the efficient flow of transactions across African borders was of paramount importance.
The key is a single payment infrastructure that cuts through the existing challenges of local currency exchange and ensures instant payment of funds.
Making PAPSS a reality
Since the Bank was inaugurated in 1993, it has built a presence in 52 member countries and, today is supporting trade finance activities in Africa through its relationships with other banks, financial institutions and export credit agencies. The Bank is also on a mission to become a Centre of Excellence, promoting and utilising cutting-edge research and knowledge to benefit African trade, market access and economic development.
Afreximbank has been at the forefront of developing PAPSS, providing capital and resource investment. As the continent’s trade finance bank, it has mobilised broad support for the system and, in collaboration with the regions’ central banks, together they are establishing a continental financial market infrastructure for commercial banks, payment service providers, card schemes and other intermediaries. These connections will enable cross-border financial transactions to happen in real-time and in local currency as well as ensure coordinated end-of-the-day net settlement with all the participating central banks. Afreximbank is also instrumental in the organisation and governance of PAPSS.
A fusion of ancient and modern
In days gone by, the cowrie shell was a means of payment and a symbol of wealth and power, accepted across much of Africa. From AD 8 until the last century, the hard, white snail shell was the perfect currency – lightweight, hard-wearing, instantly recognisable, easy to count and difficult to forge.
To create larger denominations of value the shells were threaded onto strings and for even larger payments, would be thrown into a basket and weighed.
For centuries the cowrie co-existed, particularly across West Africa, alongside other forms of currency, such as silver coins, gold dust, salt bars, brass and copper rods, horseshoe-shaped manillas (bracelets), cloth and beads. Subsequently, this humble shell wove itself into the very culture of the continent and thereby lies its legacy; while some of the European colonialists tried to foist their own currencies on Africans, the cowrie shell continued to be accepted as legal tender into the twentieth century – even along the rich trade routes of eighteenth-century western Africa.
It’s a fitting tribute then to the cowrie shell that it has inspired the modern PAPSS logo. The shell takes centre stage and is surrounded by radial lines signifying the connectivity between the technology of the PAPSS digital platform and the key partnerships that enable the payment system.
PAPSS is governed in accordance with the PAPSS Bye-Laws, the overarching framework for the operation and governance of the payment and settlement system. The Bye-Laws put into practice the PAPSS Scheme Rules and technical standards essential for facilitating a reliable, stable and effective international payment system.
PAPSS Governing Council
Based on powers derived from its Treaty, Afreximbank has established the PAPSS Governing Council (‘PGC’). The PGC has been established to provide oversight and regulation of PAPSS.
PAPSS Management Board
The PAPSS Management Board (‘PMB’) is the controlling body responsible for the technical and operational management of PAPSS. The PMB is entrusted with strategy, financial management, succession planning, stakeholder management and sustainability of PAPSS.
PAPSS Management Team
The management team is led by the Chief Executive Officer and Deputy Chief Executive Officer of PAPSS.