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Mobile payments: Ready, willing and able in South Africa

In an emerging market like South Africa, consumers are eager to join the mobile payment revolution.

A recent report by Ovum predicts that mobile payment volume in South Africa will reach over R83 billion ($8 billion USD) by 2017 at a staggering 115 percent Compounded Annual Growth Rate between 2012 and 2017. Not only do mobile payments represent a significant market opportunity for business but they also offer the possibility to transform the social fabric of the local developing economy through greater financial inclusion.

Accenture recently surveyed more than 1,000 South African mobile phone users and interviewed business leaders in the mobile payment industry in the country to understand how consumers can be encouraged to make mobile payments.

Accenture’s research, “Driving the Adoption of Mobile Payments—What SA Consumers Want (January 2014),“ revealed three important findings:

  • Consumers are aware of mobile payments and more than 60 percent are planning to adopt. This percentage increases to 66 percent in the lower age groups surveyed.

  • Consumers can be enticed to use mobile payments through value-added services. More than 23 percent of consumers were even willing to share their personal data to receive such rewards.

  • While the industry is preoccupied with technology roll out, consumers are much more concerned about security, privacy, convenience and value. 82 percent of respondents who do not plan to make mobile payments said they were concerned about security while 59 percent had worries about privacy. Some 42 percent said they would not make mobile payments because of the convenience of their current payment method.

Technology continues to evolve quickly and dramatically. The digital economy is emerging in South Africa; but success requires a dynamic digital environment that meets the needs of its consumers and businesses. Mobile payments are no longer limited to the transfer of money but also the transfer of value and information.

While the development of the mobile payments market in South Africa has been slow and uncertain, what is clear is that consumers, even if not yet fully educated, are ready and willing to pay with their phones.