Africa: Payments and Opportunities

Africa: Payments and Opportunities

Pandemic Outlook: What Is Next:The flow of global payments from Africa.

Africa, as an emerging market economy, is rapidly expanding economically. Between 2000 and 2011, Africa’s exports nearly quadrupled in value, rising from USD 148.6 billion to 581.8 billion. In 2019, the mobile payment market in Africa was valued at $456bn, with 60% of sub-Saharan Africans having a mobile money account. Although these are impressive figures, there still is substantial opportunity in other African nations, such as Egypt, Nigeria, and Ethiopia. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) estimates that online marketplaces could create 3 million new jobs across Africa by 2025.

Payments in the trade sector

According to a recent report from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), there is immense opportunity in the African payment sector. The report provides a lot of interesting data, for instance, almost 50% of African commercial payments are denominated in USD. On the one hand, this dollar dominance may mean a stabilized economy and currency; on the other, it means Africa is subject to the volatility of the US dollar.

B2B Payments

Business to business payments (B2B) refers to the exchange of money from buyer to supplier for goods or services provided. Payments in Africa are known to be very expensive for businesses. For instance, the World Bank states that the transaction fees to send money from South Africa to Botswana can be around 20%. B2B payments using mobile money can be especially useful for cross-border payments. Innovative B2B solutions can be used to lower transactional fees and ensure a faster exchange of value from global to African businesses.

Top players locally in Africa and Europe / America

Many international players in the African payment sector are being increasingly scared off by new regulations. European and American banks are being charged higher fees for providing services, especially to smaller and medium-sized enterprises. This has led affected banks to shrink their African banking network. While this may have short-term consequences, it provides an opportunity for larger banks and financial technology (Fintech) firms in Africa to establish themselves.

Financial Technology in Africa

Fintech is becoming more and more established as Africa’s population is still largely unbanked (around 57%) or underbanked, mobile penetration is increasing, and the telecommunications infrastructure is expanding. Many African countries are investing in their financial market infrastructures, to encourage economic development. Fintech is experiencing increased traction as Africa’s top telecom operators continuously invest in “mobile money” networks that provide banking services to tens of millions.

Mobile money is a term used for electronic wallet services enabling transactions and storage of money through a mobile device. This move has made Africa the world leader in mobile payments, as traditional retail banks like the South African Standard Bank are struggling to provide personal banking services to the masses. The biggest players in the mobile payments industry currently are France’s Orange, South Africa’s MTN, Britain’s Vodafone, and India’s Airtel Africa. Another notable company is M-Pesa, based in Kenya.

It covers 10 African countries and facilitates payments for approximately 30 million customers. Its technology allows for funds to be stored on SIM cards, allowing users to send money by SMS and convert it into cash at select branch locations. Figure 1 below showcases M-Pesa’s impressive revenue growth.

Financial Technology in Africa

Figure 1: Showcasing M-Pesa’s Revenue growth from 2014 – 2018

Mobile payments have increased in popularity during the pandemic. From 2020 to 2021 sub-Saharan transaction volumes of mobile money increased 23% to $490 bln. Figure 2 below showcases some of the key factors driving Fintech adoption in Africa.

financial market infrastructures

Figure 2: An Overview of the African Fintech Market (Source: Financial Technology Partners 2019 report)

How Cubri Services supports the market and is involved

Cubri Services provides a number of digital payments solutions, from fiat to digital assets. Through our large network of banking partners, we provide same-date settlements in most major currencies. 24/7 payment tracking and a bank-grade security system ensure trust and security.


1. Flutterwave. “Spotlight on Payment in Africa – Market Finder by Google.” Google, Google, 2021,
2. Holtz, Leo. “Mobile Money Dominates Fintech Investment in Africa.” Brookings, Brookings, 30 Sept. 2021, focus/2021/09/30/mobile-money-dominates-fintech-investment-in-africa/.
3. Iwayemi, Zainab. “African Unicorn: The Most Valuable Startups by Africans You Should Know.” Nairametrics, 16 Feb. 2022,
4. SWIFT. Africa Payments: Insights into African Transaction Flows.
5. Trade Economics. “How Global e-Payments Are Being Reshaped, and What It Means for Digital Trade in Africa?” International Economics, 3 Feb. 2022,