SOCIAL impact and purpose are now becoming key points of focus and action for the payments industry, said Aldo Laubscher, the country manager for South Africa at Visa.
The Covid-19 pandemic had a devastating impact over the past 18 months, throwing economies into free fall while disrupting how people worked, interacted, shopped and how businesses sold goods and services.
This came on the back of a renewed focus towards sustainability and more impactful investments by organisations across various disciplines, Laubscher said.
During these challenging times, accelerating inclusive and equitable economic growth and supporting the recovery of small and micro businesses in the region was now more important than ever.
“For some context, Sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product growth is expected to grow 3.4 percent in 2021 and four percent in 2022. Despite this, cash still dominates. Only six markets in Sub-Saharan Africa have a digital Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) penetration greater than five percent. The region also possesses over 261 million unbanked people.
“Acceptance of digital payments is also low in many markets. While there are around forty-four million merchants in Sub-Saharan Africa, we only have 1.4 million accepting electronic payments,” said Laubscher.
Payments firms still had a key role to play in the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). He said a key goal that payments firms could focus on attaining was SDG one, which was to end poverty in all its forms everywhere.
Another SDG that payments firms could focus on attaining was SDG four on ensuring inclusive and quality education for all and to promote lifelong learning.
Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls (UNSDG 5) is another key pillar that payments and technology firms can strive to attain.
Laubscher said when looking for solutions to specific needs, they could not ignore the need to critically assess the tech innovation landscape.
“Investors and institutions need to work hand in hand with other players within the ecosystem to improve sustainable practices. Tech start-ups possess good ideas, while larger institutions have the resources to spare on sustainability-focused investment.
“A concerted push from both sides of the spectrum has the potential to open up more avenues for players in the tech sector to play a bigger role in enhancing sustainability across our regions,” said Laubscher.