Eva Ngigi- Sarwari: The impact of digital payments on government efficiency and citizen empowerment

In today’s fast-rising digital evolution age, where security, convenience and efficiency are important, governments worldwide are recognizing the transformative power of digital payments. It’s evident that digital payments are set to revolutionize governance and enhance societal inclusivity. The benefits exceed beyond just mere transactional ease; they also involve fundamental improvements in governance, revenue collection, transparency, and financial inclusion.

Digital payments offer a pathway towards creating a more transparent, accessible, and inclusive governance model. By implementing digital payments, governments can help streamline processes as well as empower their citizens with better access to greater financial access. This paves the way for better governance while allowing every individual the opportunity to participate and succeed while at it.

What the shift to making digital payments entails

Traditionally, government interactions have been characterised by cumbersome paper-based processes to long queues and redundant data submissions. These not only frustrate citizens but also burden governments with administrative difficulties and delayed revenue collection.

However, the digital revolution offers a remedy to these challenges, presenting opportunities for governments to enhance service delivery and maximize resources. The security, convenience and efficiency offered by digital payments extends beyond government-to-citizen transactions. Internal operations, such as procurement and payroll, can be streamlined through electronic invoicing and automated payroll systems hence minimizing errors and delays which will automatically result in an improvement of service delivery in all government-related sectors.

By embracing digitalization, governments can streamline processes, reduce reliance on face-to-face interactions, increase transparency and accessibility and enhance innovation, and collaboration as well as data driven decision making.

This can offer the government several ways to progress and improve various aspects of governance and the economy at large.  The early stages of digitalization may involve simple steps, such as enabling online payments or introducing mobile apps for service-related transactions.

In Kenya, for example, Visa is already working with the government for the e-citizen platform through our secure payment gateway, CyberSource, which allows everyone, everywhere to pay securely and conveniently for government services using their cards.

As a next step in the digitization journey, we will also be launching a Visa-powered digital wallet on the soon-to-be-introduced e-citizen mobile app recognizing that Kenya is a mobile-first country and citizens are using their mobile phones for everyday transactions and interactions.

The journey towards digitalization is not without challenges. Technological barriers, and disparities in access must be addressed to ensure equitable implementation. However, the rewards far outweigh the risks.

By embracing digital payments, which is expected to experience a significant amount of growth and innovation, governments can pave the way for more efficient, secure, transparent, and inclusive governance.

As we navigate the complexities of the digital age, it is imperative that governments seize the opportunities afforded by technological advancements. By harnessing the power of digital payments, we can build a future where governance is not only more efficient but also more accessible and responsive to the needs of all citizens.  It is crucial that we recognize the transformative power that embracing digital payment solutions holds.

Eva Ngigi- Sarwari is the Visa Kenya Country Manager.

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