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The “A Progressive Approach to Financial Inclusion– Middle East & Africa” report measures adoption and degree of usage of financial products for 30 countries globally.
A ‘Transitioning’ South Africa displays a penetration of payments products at a rate of more than 50 percent but less than 75 percent, according to the researchers’ metrics.
The four stages of adoption of payments products are:
· Early Days: This stage represents the beginning of the progression. For all countries, adoption of payments product is less than 50 percent, and adoption of other products is typically very low (less than 25 percent). Countries include Pakistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Philippines, Peru, Nigeria, Mexico, Columbia, Tanzania, Uganda, India and Saudi Arabia.
· Transitioning: In this stage, payments product adoption starts to break out with over 50 percent penetration. In several countries, adoption of one or more products also begins to gain traction and catch up with payments adoption (e.g., long-term savings/investments in China, credit in Italy). Countries include Brazil, Russia, South Africa, Malaysia, Italy, China and Poland.
· Payments Ready: In this stage, payments product adoption reaches a critical threshold of mass adoption (greater than 75 percent). Countries are expected to be ready from a payments perspective (e.g., infrastructure) to enable advanced levels of some other products. Here advanced levels vary by product and are based on current levels of adoption in the 30 countries, specified as over 60 percent for lending, over 70 percent for long-term savings/investments, and over 45 percent for insurance. Countries include US, UAE and Kenya.
· Most Advanced: In this stage, payments product adoption is ubiquitous, and adoption of all other products is expected to be at advanced levels. Countries include Spain, Belgium, UK, Japan, Germany, Sweden and Singapore.
The country is on the same progression towards financial inclusion as Russia, Italy, Poland, Brazil, China and Malaysia, displaying alignment with three of its four BRICS partners. “Financial inclusion cannot be achieved by a single entity; it takes a broad coalition of key stakeholders. There is a need for greater innovation, public-private partnerships and consumer education to ensure South Africa becomes a truly financially included society,” says Mark Elliott, Division President, MasterCard, South Africa. With 67 percent of South African adults owning a payment product, only six percent of consumer purchases are non-cash despite just over half (51 percent) of adults receiving money via non-cash means (i.e. electronically). This means that while South Africans receive a large percentage of their income via electronic payment methods, they are not using their electronic payment products to transact – they are still depending on cash to do so.
“Adoption of products is an important first step for financial inclusion, but usage is equally important. The majority of South Africans may be financially included, however they are not making maximum use of the range of financial products at their disposal,” Elliott says.
In South Africa, lending adoption and insurance adoption were found to be at 42 percent and 43 percent respectively, exceeding long-term savings adoption, at 38 percent. However, according to the Barclays Africa’s Prosper Report, South Africans intend to grow their savings base. This is consistent with the report findings that South Africa is on a positive trajectory towards financial inclusion.
The report highlights that financial inclusion is a progressive measure, with payments as the optimal entry point. In almost all the African countries studied, payment product adoption exceeds the adoption of the other products studied, although local factors affect the different products in different ways.
“The public and private sector must identify current adoption and usage gaps, and actively pursue ways to close these gaps to boost the rate of financial inclusion. This encourages MasterCard to work even closer with our customer financial institutions and government to expand our acceptance footprint and electronic payment usage across South Africa.”
Grey Thomas - Staff Writer
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