A Long Way for a Lot of Learning


Michael W. Kahn

Sometimes you can find answers around the corner. Other times, you have to fly 20 hours.

For Leticia Mentz, it was the latter.

Mentz is with the Payments Association of South Africa, or PASA, where she looks after industry capacity building and communication. She recently came from Johannesburg to spend a week visiting Nacha headquarters, where staffers shared their expertise. She described the United States and South Africa as “different countries with the same issues” and called Nacha “a like-minded organization” to PASA.

“Our organizations have the same types of challenges and opportunities. We should think about both,” said Mentz.
“Both organizations are on a journey to modernize for the future,” said Mentz. “All payment systems look for better ways and to stay relevant.”

She was impressed with the “maturity of Nacha.” While Nacha was established in 1974, PASA was founded in 1996. “We’re still growing,” said Mentz. “Our training programs have been around South Africa only five years.”

PASA is a much smaller organization, with 33 members, most of which are banks. Nacha has 31 Direct Financial Institution and 11 Regional Payments Associations members, and also has hundreds of other members among the Afinis Interoperability Standards, Payments Innovation Alliance and Affiliate programs. And the national payment system of South Africa annually settles interbank payments to the value of ZAR 118 trillion, approximately $8.2 trillion in U.S. currency. That’s less than 20 percent of the $46.8 trillion in transactions the ACH Network handled in 2017.

Mentz also liked the way Nacha structures member and stakeholder engagement models, which she said is an area which PASA is currently looking at improving.

“We have a lot more committees and more frequent committee meetings,” she said. “We can learn that less is more.”