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How to choose the best cross-border payment gateway in Africa

May 5, 2024
May 27, 2024
6 mins read
Moyo Oluwatuyi
Moyo Oluwatuyi
Brand Storyteller

Editor's note:

If you’re here because you’ve spent hours searching the web for the right cross-border partner to process payments without success, you’ve come to the right place. 

This piece will show you key pointers for selecting the right cross-border payment solution.

Businesses need cross-border solutions for different reasons. 

For some, it’s to expand from one African country to another. Others have built a solid business outside Africa and want to explore the African market.

How do you then select a cross-border payment solution that not only meets your current needs but also offers the flexibility to grow alongside your business in the months and years to come?

This piece will answer all your questions.

What are your business needs and objectives?

At this point in your search, you should have a clear picture of your business needs and goals. 

It will help you ask the right questions when exploring the web or during a discovery call with the sales team of a potential cross-border company

If you haven’t, here's a summary of questions to ask yourself.

  • Which countries are you looking to expand to?
  • Does your business need a license to operate in these countries?
  • Which country is the easiest to expand to?
  • What will your transaction volume and revenue targets look like?
  • Will you need to tweak your product to fit the local needs in the new country?
  • What's the payment landscape in the new country?

These are some of the questions you should ask before considering a cross-border solution.

6 factors to consider when picking a cross-border payment solution

1. Cost and transparency

Cost and transparency are the first things you need to consider. What would it cost you to onboard the cross-border solution? And how transparent are the fees? How will it affect your profit margins, and will your end users be able to afford the transaction fees?

What are the fee structure and commissions like? Are there any hidden charges? 

Fees and commissions are different across payment companies. Some charge you a flat fee, and others charge you a percentage of the transaction value and some others charge you a fee if you’ve been inactive for some time. 

Ask if there are other hidden fees, such as account setup, currency conversion or settlement fees. A good payment solution shares this with you before you integrate with them.

For example, any merchant that wants to onboard Kora gets a documentation that clearly states all our transaction fees. So, you know what to expect when accepting payments.

Exchange rates

Constant currency fluctuation is a major problem with cross-border transactions. It makes it difficult for you to make long-term plans and projections. 

Get ahead of this and ask your provider how they handle fluctuations. Do they offer risk management options like forward contracts or fixed currency exchange rate transfers? 

2.  Speed, ease of use and ease of integration

Don’t think about your business alone when thinking about speed and ease of use. 

Think about about your customers, too. 

In many cases, your experience with the product, the transaction speed and ease of use will also be the same for your end customers. 

Processing times (settlement speeds)

Settlement speeds differ by payment channel and provider. 

So, look for providers that offer fast settlement speeds, especially if real-time payments are important for your business. Say you operate in the gaming industry; you need to be able to confirm transactions instantly because timing matters for your customers. So, you’ll need to go for a provider that offers instant settlements. Also, make sure the provider states the timeframe for settlement in their documentation.

For example, at Kora, settlement for bank transfers is instant, and card payments range from 12 to 24 hours. During onboarding, we explain to our merchants so they understand which channels to use for their solutions.

User interface, platform ease of integration

Two major things you need to look out for are how easy it is to get started with their API documentation and how intuitive the dashboard is.

As a business, time to market is important for you. The last thing you need is for your developers to spend unnecessary time figuring out how to integrate. So, bring them into your search process early so they can look at the API documentation and see how self-explanatory it is. 

The three major things your developers can look out for are; 

  • how easy is it to read and get started 
  • do the API keys, email requests, and error messages work as stated in the doc?
  • the ease of searching for specific terms/keywords in the documentation

Secondly, no one likes clunky interfaces that are hard to navigate.

So, prioritise a solution with a simple interface where you can find everything at once. This makes you more productive and reduces the margin of error by clicking on the wrong thing.

3. Security

Cross-border payments are more vulnerable to fraud than local payments because of the lengthy processes and number of parties involved. That’s why security is essential when processing cross-border payments. So, a good payment provider must stay ahead of hackers to prevent fraud.

There are three important security measures a good payment provider should have before you consider them for your business — encryption, tokenisation and authorisation. 

Encryption is like scrambling sensitive information with a secret code in a way that external parties can’t understand or access it. 

Tokenisation is when you replace sensitive data like debit card numbers with unique values that make no sense if stolen. So, if there’s any security breach, your information is safe.

Authentication is the primary line of defence every good payment provider should have. It provides an extra layer of verification anytime you need to log in or perform an important action on your account. Two-factor authentication is a type. 

For example, when you want to log in to your Kora dashboard, you must input an OTP to verify your identity. Other security measures at Kora include team permissions and IP Whitelisting.

Look out for security measures like these before choosing a cross-border payment provider.

Check out our report on cross-border payments and e-commerce here. It’ll help if you’re thinking of expanding your business across Africa or to global markets outside Africa. 

4. Regulatory compliance, licencing and legal considerations

A good payment gateway follows local and international regulations and licence requirements. 

So, ask questions about the provider's certification and licence. Look out for international certifications like Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard certifications (PCI DSS). 

Another vital certification to look out for is the International Standard for Business Continuity Management certification. Any cross-border payment without these two certifications is a red flag. 

Payment processing companies usually have a compliance page where they list these certifications. Check out what a compliance page should look like here. 

It's also important to check if the provider has proper know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) policies. That shows they have measures to prevent bad actors and comply with regulations.

5. Scalability and multiple currency support

Consider a payment provider that allows you some level of customisation and can handle your transaction volume if you expand.

Ability to handle increasing transaction volumes

As a business, your transaction volume will also increase as you grow and expand your product offerings. 

Prioritise payment providers that can manage huge transaction volumes. How? One way is to look at the type of companies that use that payment provider. 

For example, Kora processes payments for GIGL, one of the biggest logistics companies in Africa. While researching, if another logistics company sees that, it signals that Kora’s systems can handle huge transaction volumes. 

Support for multiple currencies and payment methods

This is one of the most essential things a cross-border payment provider should have.

Don’t just look for the currency you want to transact with; prioritise providers who allow you to accept payments in other currencies. It will make expansion to other countries easier.

For instance, if you want to expand from Nigeria to Ghana and have plans to expand to Kenya and South Africa, go for a provider that provides all the currencies. Expansion will be easier for you when it’s time. 

For example, merchants at Kora can accept payments in Nigerian Naira, Kenyan Shillings, Ghanaian Cedes, and South African rand. This means they can expand your business to all countries that accept these currencies.

6. Reputation in the market and other added services

Verify if the service provider processes payments for well-known brands and partners to establish their legitimacy and trustworthiness. This will protect your brand from any possible reputational damage because of association. 


Lastly, ask if they offer more than just payment services. Do they support businesses in other ways like facilitating partnerships or having a community? For instance, we have a developer community at Kora where developers get to learn and collaborate. You can join here. In addition, we also have Kora Startup Kit, a page with discounted pricing on tools businesses and startups need to grow and scale. 

Take your verification a step further and reach out to their current vendors and get feedback and reviews from them. This will help you know what to expect if you onboard the payment gateway.


If you can’t reach the existing customers, check out their social media comments, Reddit, G2 or other product platforms.

So what’s the best cross-border payment solution in Africa?

Answering this question might be difficult for you depending on your needs. But don’t develop a headache because of this.

If you want a payment solution that allows you to accept payments across Africa, is easy to integrate with and prioritises security, then give Kora a shot. 

Kora is a pan-African payment platform that helps you accept payments from your customers across Africa. 

Are you ready to give Kora a try? Sign up to get started.