Cash is king in Africa - G4S World Cash Report

Cash will remain a very important means of payment for years to come in Africa, according to the G4S World Cash Report being presented at the Africa and Middle East Cash Cycle Seminar (ICCOS) in Accra, Ghana, today.

woman at market buying tomatoes with cash

The first ever global study of payments; the G4S World Cash Report, has been presented today at the Africa and Middle East Cash Cycle Seminar (ICCOS) in Accra, Ghana, by Paul Van Der Knaap, Global Director of Strategy and Business Development for G4S Cash Solutions.

The G4S World Cash Report finds that cash is still by far the most widely used form of payment in all regions of the world and cash in circulation is growing. 

In Africa, the value of ATM withdrawals - the most direct measure of the use of cash - is increasing across all but one of the surveyed countries, including increases of 21% in Egypt, 16% in Zambia and 13% in South Africa. Mozambique is the only country showing a decline. 

The enduring demand for cash in Africa is consistent with the trend seen all over the world, yet the report highlights that the way different continents have adopted digital payments and other new technologies varies significantly. Mobile money is uniquely popular in Africa, with over 12% of adults in Sub-Saharan Africa having a mobile money account, but outside of Africa only 2% of adults on all other continents use mobile money to make payments. 

In Europe, the report finds that 79% of point-of-sale transactions are conducted in cash, while in North America, where card payments are most regularly used, cash use still accounts for 31% of payments. In Asia, three out of four online purchases are paid for by cash on delivery, while in Europe online purchases are most often paid for by card. 
Paul van der Knaap, Global Director of Strategy and Business Development for G4S Cash Solutions, said:

“Although the African continent is still largely cash dependent, many African countries have seen significant improvements in terms of payment infrastructure over the last decades.

“Governments, regulators, financial institutions and fintechs in Africa have a great opportunity to look at both the successes and challenges faced in other parts of the world, learn from them and leapfrog the legacy issues to develop innovative, modern and efficient payment systems that work for everyone.

“Going forward it is expected that the mobile phone will continue to play an important role in the future of payments in Africa. It has the potential to bring the worlds of cash and electronic payments together, and through a variety of new creative payment solutions could prove to be instrumental in creating a more inclusive financial system.

“At the same time, with millions of people in Africa still having limited or no access to banks and other digital forms of payment, industry partners in the cash domain must have a primary focus on making the cash cycle as safe and efficient as possible, at all stages.”

G4S is the world’s leading integrated security company with 120,000 employees across Africa. The G4S World Cash Report surveyed 47 countries covering 75% of the global population and over 90% of the world’s GDP from 2012 to 2016.