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Customer-centric mobile technologies continue to reshape Sub-Saharan Africa’s payments industry
Africa’s payments services architecture is rapidly evolving in response to changing technology and customer expectation. While non-banks such as mobile network operators (MNOs) are the key drivers of disruptive payments technologies in Africa, traditional banks are also creatively developing and integrating disruptive technologies to address the continent’s payment challenges and most importantly meet customer expectations.

October 28, 2019 | Faith Masekesa
  • Mobile technology, a catalyst for greater financial inclusion
  • Traditional banks leveraging on improving mobile technology to increase bank penetration and expand product offerings
  • Greater interoperability promoting the digitalisation of payments

Sub-Saharan Africa remains a strong hold of mobile money, the region is driving almost two thirds of total global mobile money transactions and has the highest share of registered mobile money accounts. 

Africa’s payments industry continues to evolve rapidly, driven largely by smartphone and mobile technology. Although cash is still the dominant payment method in Africa, the volume of electronic payments grew at an annual rate of 13% between 2014 and 2016 according to the McKinsey report on growth and innovation in African retail banking. Emerging disruptive payment models such as mobile payments, QR (Quick Response) code technology, clip-on card readers, and e-wallets, have facilitated an increased uptake of electronic payments by consumers and acceptance by small businesses even in the informal sector. Technological disruption is transforming not only the payment industry but the entire financial ecosystem.

There has been progress in financial inclusion but a large proportion of the African population remains unbanked, including consumers and merchants. The International Monetary Fund estimates that only 20% of the population has a bank account. This is significantly low compared to 92% in advanced economies. In contrast, the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GMSA) 2018 report on mobile money reveals that more than 60% of the adult population in sub-Sahara Africa have a mobile money account.

However, the region has the lowest number of ATMs (per 100,000 adults), commercial bank branches (per 100,000 adults) and the lowest share of adult population with an account (at a financial institution...

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