Digital innovation to promote Africa financial inclusion

by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – DIGITAL technology for small merchants is set to drive Africa to a new era of financial inclusion.

This is according to experts at the just-ended Payments Association of South Africa (PASA) International Payments Conference in Johannesburg.

Gabriel Swanepoel, vice-president of product development and innovation at Mastercard South Africa, told delegates 95 percent of retail transactions in Africa and the Middle East were still executed using cash, locking merchants and consumers into unnecessary risks and high transaction costs.

To change this picture, payments companies should help merchants take advantage of the 84 percent mobile penetration across the region by offering them access to simple solutions for accepting card and digital payments using mobile technology.

“Traditional payments solutions are not a good fit for many African merchants, particularly in the informal market,” he said.

Swanepoel said Mastercard’s vision was to offer solutions that remove cost and complexity barriers from payments acceptance, including high monthly rentals and transaction costs, and the need for dedicated card payment terminals.

“These solutions enable greater acceptance of cashless payments, allowing merchants to support payment types from QR codes and plastic to legacy USSD interfaces,” he added.

Paul Stoddart, Chief Executive Officer, told delegates real-time payments were being used globally to provide a more seamless banking experience for the financially excluded, offering a level of trust that was previously only available through physical cash.

He said real-time payment was the foundation of a new digital payments ecosystem and supported the move towards interoperability across the global payments landscape.

“Real-time payment schemes will enable new innovative services in the banking and retail sectors, and further disrupt the current global payments ecosystem,” Stoddart said.
– CAJ News

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