Sparkle, a mobile-first digital ecosystem providing financial, lifestyle, and business support services to Nigerians across the globe, has partnered with Network International, a company that enables digital commerce across Africa, to power its recently launched payment card offering.

Sparkle's mission is to help Nigerians fulfill their financial and lifestyle needs by bringing them the convenience, flexibility, safety, and security of cashless payments across various channels.

“Digital adoption and customer experience is going to be dependent on the people, platform and partnership. In the area of payment processing and data insights, Network International brings that to our platform, and we are truly excited about the future of the partnership and what it means for the enablement and transformational impact for Nigerians anywhere in the world who are connected to the Sparkle platform,” said Uzoma Dozie, Founder of Sparkle.

📷 L-R: Uzoma Dozie, CEO Sparkle with Chinwe Uzoho, West Africa Regional Director at Network International.

Rise of virtual cards in Africa

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated lockdowns across various countries in Africa, there has been an increase in the number of financial services companies offering virtual cards. This can be attributed to the fact that more people are shopping online among other reasons.

This has been the case not only in Nigeria but in South Africa as well. Half-way through 2020 FNB, one of South Africa's top 5 largest banks, announced the launch of a Virtual Card product for individual and business customers. This was followed by Standard Bank, Discovery Bank, Nedbank, and Capitec.

Sparkle itself launched its virtual card offering in September 2020 in Nigeria. The launch was part of its collaboration with Visa to enable Sparkle to provide issuance of Visa cards to its users.

Benefits of Virtual Cards

Among many benefits, one thing that stands out about Virtual Cards for payments is the security options they offer customers.

For example, one of these security features on a Virtual Card is a dynamic Card Verification Value (CVV) security number that changes every hour to help customers minimize the risk of fraud when shopping online. Another is to have a disposable Virtual Card that a customer can use only for one online transaction.

Network International is reported to have many years of experience and expertise in creating card solutions for emerging markets. This will help Sparkle benefit from their digital infrastructure and robust security protocols, avoiding the need to invest in expensive card management infrastructure.

“We are delighted to strengthen our strategic alliance with Sparkle as it seeks to further disrupt the payments offering to consumers and retailers in Nigeria. Building on our two decades of experience within payments and deep insight of the African market, we look forward to deploying our trusted platform and best-in-class technology towards supporting digital and financial inclusion of Nigerian consumers and businesses," said Andrew Key, Managing Director - Africa, Network International.

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