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The most popular payment channels across Africa

July 10, 2023
July 10, 2023
2 mins read
Astor George
Astor George
Brand Storyteller

Editor's note:

In a bustling marketplace in the heart of Nigeria, Janet, a young entrepreneur, stands proudly behind her vibrant display of handmade vases. Eager customers gather around, enchanted by the colours and intricate designs. As Janet prepares to finalise a sale, she’s expecting a cash payment but is shocked when the customer asks if they can pay with mobile money, a payment channel Janet’s new business isn’t prepared to accept. 

In recent years, Africa has witnessed a significant transformation in its payment landscape, driven by technological advancements and increasing financial inclusion. As the continent embraces digital innovation, various payment channels are being developed and adopted by individuals and businesses alike. Here are Africa's most popular payment channels, highlighting their influence on financial services and the growth of the economy. 

  • Mobile Money: This has become popular in African countries with limited traditional banking infrastructure and high mobile phone penetration because it provides convenient services to the unbanked and underbanked populations. According to the Central Bank of Nigeria, the number of mobile-money transactions in Nigeria doubled to around 800 million in 2020. South Africa’s online commerce grew by about 40% during lockdowns in 2020 and 2021. With mobile money companies like M-Pesa, MoMo, and Orange Money, users can easily send money, make bill payments, purchase goods and services, and access credit using mobile phones. 

  • Card Payments: As electronic payment terminals become more widely used, so have debit card payments, leading to consumers using their cards for in-store purchases, online transactions, and ATM withdrawals. The volume of card transactions in Africa increased from $105 billion in 2015 to $187 billion in 2020. International card networks like Visa and Mastercard have expanded their presence, collaborating with local banks to issue cards and promote cashless transactions. 

  • Bank Transfers: Bank transfers are essential in facilitating domestic and cross-border payments and are mainly used for larger transactions by millions of individuals and businesses. Instant payment systems, such as Nigeria's NIBSS Instant Payment (NIP), Ghana’s Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS), and South Africa's Instant Money Transfer (IMT), have improved the convenience of bank transfers by reducing transaction times.  

  • Cash: Yes. Cash made it onto this list. Why? Because not everyone has a traditional bank account or access to digital payment methods. No matter how technologically advanced a business gets, provisions must always be made for cash payments because it’s still Africa’s most widely used payment method. 

The payment methods above may be the most popular now. However, Africa’s payment landscape is becoming more diverse, with more payment channels being developed and adopted each year, such as digital wallets and cryptocurrency. As Africa continues its journey towards economic development, it’s exciting to see which of the new channels grows in adoption to overtake the others possibly.  

At Kora, our goal is to connect Africa to the world and connect the world to Africa via payments. We provide All The Support You Need ™️ for startups and businesses working in Africa to start, scale and thrive on the continent. Visit to see all the ways you can thrive with Kora.