Global Findex 2021 data[1] highlights some key statistics in developing economies:

  • The percentage of adults making or receiving digital payments increased from 35% to 57%.
  • 865 million account owners opened their first financial institution account for the purpose of receiving money from the government.
  • More than a third of adults in developing economies paid a utility bill digitally.
  • 20% of adults (excluding China) made a merchant payment using a card, mobile phone, or the internet.

We are witnessing a significant increase in digital payments, much due to the COVID-19 pandemic speeding up digital adoption. We are seeing prices for transactions fall and the number of use cases for digital payments increase, a pattern that is expected to continue as more governments and businesses digitize. The increase is being seen for all types of payments, P2P and G2P, and also P2B.

Digital payments are becoming more common, they act as the first step for a consumer into the world of digital finance, either as a sender or receiver. It acts as an incentive to create that account/wallet, from which a journey to save, store, and transact can expand. Digital payments are the starting point of a journey for individuals, families, and businesses. Widening access to the financial system can improve resilience and access to economic opportunities for those who are currently excluded[2]. They can save and utilize products such as insurance and credit at critical moments.

For women, we know that there is still a gender gap in both account and mobile phone ownership, but there is evidence showing how access to formal accounts fosters women’s empowerment by giving women greater agency and control over household financial resources.[3]

Turning to Africa in particular, the growth of digital payments can be attributed to the growth in registered mobile money accounts. There are 621 million registered mobile money accounts in Africa, 184 million of these accounts are considered active, having made a transaction in the last 30 days.[4]

Whilst the focus of this article is towards financial inclusion, it would be remiss to also mention there are many benefits of digitizing payments to larger businesses and Governments, including reducing business costs by up to $400 billion USD annually and reducing corruption and tax evasion[5]

Looking at the data and how payments are a gateway to access financial services, it is vital that we leverage digital payments to support and serve the millions of unbanked and underbanked adults. We need to encourage digitizing payments, such as for wages, social or government transfers, paying utility bills, and merchant payments, to create that entry point for account ownership.

We need to create an environment where paying digitally is safe, affordable, and ultimately easier than paying with cash. Governments, regulators, mobile network and mobile money operators, financial service providers, and fintech entities all have a role to play. Inclusive instant retail payment systems can play a pivotal role in creating universal access to financial services for all Africans.

Given the role of digital payments in catalyzing access and use of other financial services and products, AfricaNenda and the Alliance of Digital Finance Associations are delighted to be collaborating on a series of working groups to discuss some of the successes and challenges with digital payments. In particular, we will be exploring gaps and opportunities in driving the inclusivity of instant payment systems to ensure that these systems fulfil their role as digital public infrastructure in Africa as well as policy considerations to enable seamless cross-border retail payments.

We will particularly be focusing on Zambia, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana, which are the focus of a series of country-focused reports produced by AfricaNenda. We are delighted to be running the working groups with the following Alliance Members: Association for Digital Finance Practitioners, Zambia; Association of Digital Finance Professionals, Tanzania; Association des Professionnels de la Finance Digitale au Cameroun; Association of Digital Finance Practitioners, Nigeria; Digital Financial Practitioners Association of Kenya; and Digital Finance Practitioners Ghana. We look forward to releasing the outcomes of the working groups later this year.

We are delighted to announce our first webinar, focusing on Zambia, Kenya, and Nigeria, where we share the initial thoughts and findings from ongoing discussions leveraging consumer insights from the SIIPS 2022 research. We will explore the similarities between these markets and ways to accelerate the accessibility and adoption of digital payments. The webinar will be held on Tuesday, September 26th at 4 pm EAT/3 pm SAST – sign up here.






[1] World Bank, Global Findex Data (2021)

[2] World Bank, Policy Research Working Paper, Financial Inclusion and Inclusive Growth: A Review of Recent Empirical Evidence (2017)

[3] Women and Digital Financial Services in Sub-Saharan Africa:  Understanding the Challenges and Harnessing the Opportunities

[4] GSMA, State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money (2022)

[5] AfricaNenda Instant Payments in Africa Report (2022)