AFRICA’S GROWING CASHLESS ECONOMY

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Electronic cards have dominated the African market for decades with most of its users being commercial banks as well as businessmen and women. The most commonly used are credit and ATM (automated teller machine) cards. However, since the introduction of mobile money transfer, the dynamics in electronic card payment has changed drastically. Mobile money transfer has gained popularity over the years with its existing customer base giving positive feedback to the services offered. A vision that had been set years ago is now being realized in Africa with most countries embracing the mobile money transfer among them being Liberia.

Lonestar Cell MTN launched the mobile money transfer in 2013 and has since added water, electricity and cable television payments through the platform. Though most businessmen still transact through cheques, most payments in Liberia are done through mobile money – popularly known as mobile wallet. In 2016, the service provider announced that it would be offering transfers in both US and Liberian dollars.

Even though Liberia may be advanced in currency transfers, M-Pesa, a mobile payment service launched in 2007 in Kenya has hugely penetrated the mass market over the years, with its current customers giving positive feedback on the services offered.  This has made the level of adoption of this product by new users to be very high.  Of vital importance, M-Pesa is available to people in the rural setting and has since reduced cash pilfering that was rampant due to the number of people money had to pass through to get to the recipient before the revolutionary product was launched.

A study that was done by GSMA (Global Systems for Mobile Communications Association) showed that 500 million Africans use mobile phones and the number is expected to rise to 725 million by 2020. The potential of mobile technology to transform access to financial services to emerging markets is a tremendous effort in achieving a cashless economy in Africa.

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