State of instant and inclusive payment systems in Africa


This article was written by Antonia Esser, Mia Thom, Barry Cooper, Vera Neugebauer, Matthew Ferreira, Christine Hougaard, Sasha Lünsche, Sophie Gebers and Kgotso Mofulatsi. The original article was published by Cenfri. You can find the article here.

Real-time retail payments that enable consumers to send and receive cross-border and domestic transactions digitally are on the rise globally. The increasing proliferation of QR codes, apps, tap-and-go card technology, and small-value payments using proxy identifiers (aliases) such as phone numbers and email addresses have made payments one of the more innovative financial services in recent years. This is also evident in the number of deals that payments startups and established fintechs (paytechs) have been able to close.

In Africa, the progress and extent of reach in the market of digital payments is less documented than in other regions in the world, yet is unique in the scale of transactions that are routed via USSD channels. USSD technology enables the end-user to pay and receive money through mobile money wallets, even if only basic/ feature phones are at hand. These nuances and the progress of digital payments on the continent, enabled by efficient and open underlying payments infrastructure, are analysed and captured in the inaugural State of Instant and Inclusive Payment Systems (SIIPS) 2022 report.

AfricaNenda, in a new initiative with the World Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), partnered with Cenfri to map the retail instant payment ecosystem in Africa, and analyse to what extent the systems are inclusive, i.e. accessible to all. Apart from a landscaping report that contains analysis of the major trends and barriers in the instant payment systems on the continent, four case studies from Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, and the SADC region, highlight the design journey of an instant payment system. End-user research with individual users and small businesses in seven countries further paints the adoption and usage journey in the different realities of these markets.

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