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FINTECH AFRICA | Interswitch Verve Cards Now Have Over 50% Market Share in Nigeria, Surpassing VISA and MasterCard

Since Nigerian fintech companies choose the accessible and local alternative, Verve cards are becoming more and more popular than MasterCard and VISA cards. Based on information available on Statista:

  • Verve holds 54% of the Nigerian card market
  • 30% of cardholders in Nigeria use MasterCard, and
  • Around 18% have VISA cards

Local reports state that Verve, the card programme run by Interswitch, the unicorn of Nigerian payments, is now issued by all commercial banks in the country with the exception of Guaranty Trust Holding Company (GTCO). Over half of First Bank’s cardholders are Verve card holders, making it the oldest bank in Nigeria, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Since its founding in 2009, Verve has outperformed foreign card programmes; this can be linked to the Naira’s devaluation, which has increased the cost of bills denominated in foreign currencies.

Practically speaking, it indicates poor cost control for a bank or fintech to be paying high fees to Visa and Mastercard. Right now, I don’t think that providing Visa and Mastercard cards in Nigeria has any strategic significance. When Verve is around, you’re basically wasting money on extremely unnecessary things. — Ndubuisi Ekekwe, PhD, FASMICRO Group Chairman

Regarding fintech, 13 million Verve cards have been issued by Chinese-backed OPay, and roughly 4 million of these cards have reportedly been issued by MoniePoint. In addition, Kuda offers cards from Verve, the largest card system in Africa, offered by Interswitch, which is accepted in Nigeria as well as in Europe and America. Neo-bank Carbon, on the other hand, had to close down its debit card operations as CEO Ngozi Dozie questioned the viability of starting a card operation that was invoiced in USD ($). Carbon had previously cooperated with international card provider VISA for its card service.

Customers’ use of cards for local payments is another factor contributing to the decision to move to local card networks. Few customers really use the big card schemes’ feature of being able to make international payments since inflation has put pressure on their spending capacity.

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