My Experience with E-Payment in Sudan: Challenges and Opportunities

I am a cofounder and CTO of a fintech startup company operating in Sudan. Our company aims to provide innovative and convenient solutions for e-payment using cards and POS devices. We believe that we have the right product and the right product-market-fit and we have a solid niche to operate on. However, we also face many challenges and obstacles in our journey to grow and scale our business in the Sudanese market.

One of the key factors

CBOS or Central Bank of Sudan mostly is concerned about the policies and ensuring that we comply with them. They set the rules and regulations for e-payment in Sudan and monitor the performance and security of the system. They also issue licenses for fintech companies like ours to operate in the market. We respect their role and authority and we always try to follow their guidelines and requirements.

The banks, however, are very tricky. Banks are working within the current setup as our direct competitors yet at the same time a huge part of our business depends on them: we cannot issue and create merchants unless with a prior approval from a bank and that must happen for each merchant (imagine the whole financial system is still after all of these steps is still bottlenecked by how banks operate).

Banks don’t have a lot of incentives either to help in the POS nor the cards: they don’t get any fees! They do a lot of “work” but none of it really translates into any tangible revenue to the bank. They see us as a threat to their traditional banking services and they try to limit our growth and expansion by imposing high fees, delays, and restrictions on us.

The whole e-payment in Sudan therefore operates within the velocity and agility that is set by the banks. All of the benefits of fintech companies are useless within this setup, since fintechs in Sudan are semi-autonomous in the most crucial aspects and extremely tied to the banks (their direct competitors) when it comes to achieving any of their business goals.

This is my journey and findings with e-payment in Sudan and without intervention from CBOS the situation will only keep getting worse. I hope that CBOS will recognize the potential and value of fintech companies like ours and will create a more enabling and supportive environment for us to thrive and contribute to the development of the financial sector in Sudan.