by Ralph Staniforth

Technology without boundaries

Mobile payments are a force for positive disruption


In a fast-paced, technology-driven world, it is becoming more and more important that all industries keep up with the pace and the needs of consumers. In the banking world the ability to change and come up with innovative ways of making a consumer’s life easier is part of the daily process.

Technology knows no boundaries, it evolves without warning – a banks’ ability to identify the evolution and innovate successfully plays a massive role in their success.

Cashless transactions are part of most working people’s daily lives. Last year Bill Gates noted that “digital banking will give the poor more control over their assets and help them transform their lives and by 2030, 2 billion people who don’t have a bank account today will be storing money and making payment with their phones”.

According to some estimates, between 65-70% of South African citizens do not have banks – this is most likely due to the lack of trust and huge bank charges.

With the crime rate in South Africa as it is at the moment people have a fear of carrying cash on them, which is where “mobile money” comes in. Far less people need to carry cash these days as technology allows them to access their money straight from their phone.

In the next few years it is expected that more small businesses and taxi operators will embrace the “mobile money” concept and make it far easier for the general consumer.

The landscape of mobile money is looking promising as more and more big corporate companies are getting into the swing of things.

You can now order and pay for a taxi (Uber) on your phone, as you can with most other things without stepping foot outside the house, or having to carry any sort of cash on you – besides a tip for the parking guard.

The four major banks in South Africa —ABSA, FNB, Nedbank, Standard Bank—have all made great strides in the technology world. All of them have created some system that is beneficial to their clients. There is no doubt that they will continue to innovate as time goes by.

If you have spent, or will be spending time in Kenya, Tanzania or Botswana in the near future, you will clearly see how big a difference mobile money has made to their lives. An example of this is the M-Pesa app that was launched by Vodacom last year, but has already been running in Kenya for a number of years.

One regular traveller told us that while she uses M-Pesa in other African countries, she didn’t in South Africa because it is quite expensive and not a very popular app; so not many people use it, “which makes it kind of pointless.”

Unfortunately, regulating bodies in South Africa are the main reason for the slow growth in South Africa as it is extremely difficult to get a banking licence, and without it you cannot open a proper mobile banking company in South Africa.

According to Johan Meyer, founder of Wallettec, in an article for, “People are already using alternative digital mediums as currency. In other African countries, we find people using airtime as a currency.”

Mobile money is no longer the future, it is the current – South Africa must accept this and move at a much faster pace. Financial inclusion is at stake...limitations set in place need to change.

More and more big companies are including mobile money these days, which is a positive for South Africa.

Ralph Staniforth

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This edition

Issue 72