Africa’s largest financial services organisation by assets, Standard Bank Group, is driving the contactless payments across Africa, as consumers look for safer ways to pay in the wake of COVID-19.
“The pandemic has created heightened concern among consumers on cash usage, with many increasingly recognising contactless as a safer, cleaner and faster way to pay, especially as they seek out ways to quickly get in and out of stores without touching terminals or handing over their card,” says Israel Skosana, head of card issuing, Pan-Africa at Standard Bank.
Recently, studies by Mastercard showed 70% of respondents in the Middle East and Africa are now using some form of contactless payment, using safety and cleanliness as key drivers. According to reports by IT Web, Standard Bank says it is enabling contactless payment capability for customers across 15 markets on the continent, including SA, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, eSwatini, Tanzania, Uganda, Namibia, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
“The introduction of this payment method will improve customer convenience, with shorter transaction times, and eliminates the need to withdraw or handle cash. Security is also enhanced as a customer keeps their card with them rather than handing it to someone else,” explains Skosana.
According to Standard Bank, cash still accounts for most payments in many of the African countries. Yet, it notes, as well as being inefficient to process and expensive to sustain, cash is inherently insecure, and its use fuels the shadow economy. The bank points out the displacement of cash is, therefore, a strategic objective for many governments, banks, payment providers and, increasingly, merchants.
The bank believes that contactless represents a viable cash displacement tool. In many countries around the world, says Skosana, the use of contactless payments has quickly become deeply embedded into everyday payment habits. The perceptions around convenience and safety have spurred the preference for contactless cards, he adds.
“COVID-19 has accelerated the issuance of contactless-enabled cards and the upgrading of merchant terminals to accept contactless payments. This comes in response to increasing demand from both consumers and merchants alike. Businesses are more reluctant to accept cash, consumers don’t wish to touch payment terminals, and everyone is more conscious of reducing their human contact.”
Prior to the pandemic, contactless payments were already emerging and growing within African regions; however, COVID-19 has encouraged consumers to further embrace the technology.
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