How Africa is Using Mobile Payments to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19
Updated: Oct 7
Mobile payments comprising of mobile wallets or mobile money transfers have consistently grown in Africa ever since the introduction of M-PESA in Kenya. This was way back in 2007, and a lot of Digital Financial Services have since entered the market.
Every year, mobile payment usage goes up along with the number of people registering with mobile money transfer services. However, recent circumstances surrounding the virus known as COVID-19 have boosted mobile payment all over Africa within a short amount of time. In Rwanda alone, mobile transactions rose fivefold due to the lockdown.
To see how different countries and regions in Africa are using mobile payments to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the following are examples of what companies and policymakers have done.
Telecommunications provider Safaricom, the company that introduced M-PESA in Kenya, waived the fee for transactions below 1,000 schillings to support its customers and discourage the handling of cash. This was done for 90 days, costing the company about 5.5 billion shillings or 51.5 million USD. Aside from waiving its fees, the daily transaction limit in M-PESA has also been raised.
Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements and regulations have eased in light of the COVID-19 pandemic to make onboarding easier and to increase transaction limits and the maximum amount of a user’s balance. The Bank of Ghana has also given discounted rates regarding transactions with mobile money operators.
Paga, the leading mobile payment company in Nigeria, has also taken measures to reduce the handling of cash. Paga’s transaction fees for money transfers were reduced, and they even waived their fee so merchants can accept payments from Paga customers for free.
Like other countries in Africa, mobile payment fees have also been waived in Rwanda but aside from this, the regulations for loan repayment have eased for borrowers impacted greatly by the restrictions COVID-19 has brought. Because of this, citizens who need to take out loans will have more leeway in repayment.
In response to the growing COVID-19 infections in South Africa, technology company Yoco has encouraged its customers to use Point of Sales (POS) machines so payment will be contactless. The company is also in the process of developing a remote payment product.
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