AfricaNenda: Digital Payment Access is Steadily Increasing. What Barriers Remain?

Posted on Mar 21, 2024 by Sabine Mensah, Deputy CEO, AfricaNenda

The instant payment ecosystem in Africa continues to show increased dynamism, as the number of instant payment systems (IPS) expands and more transactions run through them, as documented in the State of Inclusive Instant Payment Systems in Africa 2023 report (SIIPS 2023). This second annual SIIPS report charts the landscape of public IPS, highlights consumer insights about payment access and usage behaviours, shares case studies of four live IPS, and offers a deep-dive into cross-border payments and the regulatory barriers that constrain them.

Collectively, the supply- and demand-side insights captured in the report reveal the progress that has taken place in Africa related to building IPS in a way that they form the payments layer of Africa's digital public infrastructure (DPI). Comprised of digital identification, data exchange, consent networks, and instant digital payments, DPI provides the foundation for seamless transactions and connections that cater to the diverse needs of people, businesses, and governments. By definition, inclusivity is a necessary component of payment functionality as a public good. Despite meaningful growth in availability and usage, however, the report finds that inclusivity barriers remain. These barriers represent ripe areas for investments, partnerships, and advocacy to progress toward inclusivity.

2022 saw growth in the number of IPS as well as their transaction volumes and values

Since 2022, three new IPS went live on the continent. They were EthSwitch in Ethiopia, Virement Instantané in Morocco, and PayShap in South Africa. Their launch brings the total number of live, public IPS to 32, including 29 domestic systems in 21 countries and three regional systems.

The system types have evolved over time as more IPS embrace a “cross-domain” model, meaning they facilitate transactions for a variety of payment providers — including banks and mobile money operators — enabling all-to-all interoperability. Of Africa’s 32 IPS, 14 are cross domain, whereas 10 are bank IPS, and seven include only mobile money operators as payment service providers.

Map of instant payment systems across Africa

Collectively, Africa’s systems processed nearly 32 billion transactions worth close to $1.2 trillion between 2022 and 2023. Based on the data in the report, cross-domain IPS drove 65% of transaction value, whereas mobile money IPS drove 82% of transaction volume. These may be underestimations, however, due to the fact that 10 of the continent’s IPS do not publish and did not share their transaction data.

Beyond documenting their existence, the SIIPS 2023 report ...

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