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PAPSS: What It Is, Benefits, and How It Works

Cross-border trading is high on the agenda, with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement now a reality. PAPSS, or the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System, is primed to facilitate the expected increased volumes of cross-border payments.

PAPSS is a cross-border financial market infrastructure enabling payment transactions across Africa. It addresses the historical challenges of making payments across African borders, adding value through a typical African market infrastructure for all stakeholders, from governments, banks, and payment providers to corporates, small enterprises, and individuals. 

The PAPSS has been piloted successfully in the six countries that comprise the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ)—Nigeria, the Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, and Guinea.

The benefits and purposes of PAPSS are ever-expanding – read on to learn more!

Benefits of PAPSS for participants

Financial intermediaries, commercial banks, fintech companies, and payment service providers (PSPs) – Direct Participants and Indirect Participants – who facilitate cross-border payments for their clients reap the benefits of PAPSS. Here’s what they can expect:

  • A platform for innovation and creativity + increasing access to markets
  • API capability that enhances scale, performance, security, and privacy
  • Faster and more efficient customer service
  • Simplified cross-border payment performance – no longer requiring multiple correspondent banking relationships 
  • Analytical information for management reporting from ISO 20022 standard messaging to support informed decision-making

Benefits of PAPSS for African governments

Governments and central banks connecting with PAPSS receive a wealth of benefits as well:

  • Decreased foreign exchange liquidity + eased pressure on current accounts
  • Increased transparency for greater oversight of cross-border transactions, which increases the potential to generate revenue
  • Enhanced financial inclusion and improved economic growth

Benefits of PAPSS for customers

Businesses large and small, as well as individuals whose payments and remittances are being processed through PAPSS, benefit from the following:

  • Near instant payments across African borders without converting to different currencies
  • Improved working capital through payment certainty and faster transactions
  • Access to payment-facilitating options for millions of Africans, including those previously underserved

Types of Participants

Direct Participants maintain a settlement account with the central bank of the country in which they operate to effect pre-funding.

Indirect Participants do not maintain a settlement account in the country of operation. Instead, they have a relationship with a direct participant as they will need the direct participant’s liquidity to fund or defund clearing accounts.

Sending payments using the PAPSS involves the following steps:

1) A company issues a payment instruction to their local bank or payment service provider

2) The bank sends instructions to its Central Bank, which sends them to PAPSS

3) PAPSS validates the instruction and forwards it to the beneficiary’s Central Bank and then a local bank

4) The local bank pays the transferred funds in local currency to the beneficiary

Purpose of PAPSS

The PAPSS was developed by the African Export-Import Bank in collaboration with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat. It uses a digital, cloud-based platform designed by StoneX. By facilitating the settlement of payments, PAPSS aims to support increased African trade under the AfCFTA. African Central Banks oversee the governance and daily operation of the PAPSS, which is headquartered in Cairo, Egypt. PAPSS is only exchanged for legal tender, not digital assets like cryptocurrencies or Central Bank Digital Currencies.
PAPSS enables the efficient flow of money securely across African borders, minimising risk and contributing to financial integration across the regions.
Whether shopping, transferring money, paying salaries, dealing in stocks and shares, or making high-value business transactions, PAPSS’ real-time infrastructure provides a reliable, cost-effective answer for instant payments.
PAPSS works in collaboration with Africa’s central banks to provide a payment and settlement service to which commercial banks, payment service providers, and fintech across the region can connect as ‘Participants’.

To learn more about PAPSS, schedule a call with our payment expert Nana Yaw Owusu Banahene, here.


Global Trade Review
Pan-African Payment and Settlement System
United Nations Africa Renewal

AZA Finance



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