The Central Bank of Eswatini (CBE) has been proactive in creating an enabling environment for innovation in digital financial services in response to consumer demands and changing market needs. This is evident with the release of the Practice Note for Mobile Money Service Providers in March 2019 and the CBE Agent Banking Guidelines (No. 1 of 2019). In the same year, the central bank published a revised National Payment Systems (NPS) Regulatory Oversight Framework. The CBE also has a dedicated Fintech Unit and regulatory sandbox that allows for the live testing of innovative fintech products, including payments services.
More recently the CBE launched a “revised and refreshed” National Payment Systems (NPS) Vision and Strategy 2021–2025. An updated strategy was needed to match the current evolving needs of consumers and businesses for a safe, modern, efficient, and reliable payment ecosystem. The 2021–2025 strategy focuses on the creation of the “key ecosystem enablers for a modern and frictionless payment system” for today and future market needs. It builds on the 2009–2016 National Payment Strategy that saw the development of key guidelines and regulations and created the foundation for a more efficient and reliable payment system.
The Purpose of the 2021–2025 NPS Strategy is to highlight key strategic imperatives for the advancement and modernisation of the national payment system in Eswatini. The Vision is to help guide the evolution of the NPS over the next five years under the direct supervision and leadership of the CBE through strategic priorities that are forward-looking and fit for purpose. Central to the strategy is mitigating new risks that may be introduced by new innovative payment mechanisms, ensuring consumer protection, and preserving financial stability.
The CBE has, over the years, witnessed an overall increase in the number of financial service access points across all channels, thereby improving the ability and convenience for customers to access financial services in Eswatini. Figure 1 below shows that the banking network has expanded by 24% since 2015, with most of this growth happening in 2019 on the back of ...
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