Africans are rapidly embracing digital paying platforms. Industry experts in the ICT sector say they are seeing more people on the African continent using mobile and online services to pay bills and other services.

Although the use of digital payment systems is not advanced in many countries, the experts say acceptance of alternatives to cash is increasing.

The ICT experts were speaking at the third day of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) World conference underway in Durban.

Although there has been an increase in digital payment platforms in Africa, many people are still afraid to use it.

Chief of Study Groups at ITU Bilel Jamoussi says, “There is actually a possibility of paying online, but people are afraid of it. They don’t know if they can do it or not, or trust the system or not and very few people have a card or digital financial service that they can use and really thinking how to make this breakthrough.”

Jamoussi says in Tunisia the government intervened to get people to use digital payment services

“The minister of education decided to mandate every student in school will not be able to register unless they do it online. And that implied that they either needed to go get a credit card. So, they had to find a digital financial solution or they can use their mobile phones and I see this as a very recent very concrete example of how a small regulation from the school system from the ministry of education forces every family in Tunisia to acquire those digital financial services that are available to solve some really real problems in terms of congestion, queuing and wasting a lot of time that was unnecessary,” says Jamoussi.

Lead Policy Expert on ICT and transport at the World Bank Samia Melhem says, “Everybody talks about M-Pesa but every country in Africa has already a very vibrant digital payment ecosystem, through the mobile operators. You are seeing a lot of third parties also being the local E-Bay. And so, what we are seeing in Africa and we have many projects is payment platforms for farmers whether its cocoa farmers or other products that are all registering through the platforms through their mobile phones and getting payments to the warehouse and to the stores where they are selling their merchandise.”

Jamoussi  says, “The first conversation is how do you remove the barriers for network operators to provide financial services and at the same time, how do you remove the barriers for the banks to become mobile operators. So, that’s a very critical conversation that has to happen at national level between the central bank and the Telkom operator.”

“The key is the alliance with the mobile operators often seen as a threat by the banks,” says Melhem.

In 2017, a billion dollars was processed daily worldwide through the mobile payment industry.

Direct revenue was 2.4 billion and over 690 million mobile accounts exist today across 90 countries.

Africa remains the epicentre of mobile banking but South Asia has the highest growth at 48%.

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