Picture: Reuters Maxim Zmeyev
Picture: Reuters Maxim Zmeyev

Shift to cashless solutions gathers pace, helping close financial and digital inclusion gaps

By Opinion Time of article published Jun 11, 2021

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THE new global payments ecosystem, driven by mobile wallets, is the result of the convergence of three large and powerful forces: telecommunications, banking and retail.

A safer, more convenient cashless society is not only inevitable, it'll be here before we know it. This shift will continue to be powered by rapid advances in technology and more innovative solutions aimed at enhancing user experiences.

Today's virtual payment methods are already faster, more secure and less expensive than before – and this fast pace of change is beginning to help close the crucial gaps of financial and digital inclusion in our society.

However, with the world changing so fast, and competition for digital solutions even higher than before, only those able to adapt to the changing business environment, with innovative solutions, will truly benefit from the ever-evolving mobile money market.

What is therefore needed is higher levels of collaboration, with various sectors within our growing digital economies working together to harness the latest technology and realise the full potential of a cashless society. Critical to this, will be the pathways created by stable, secure network infrastructure.

The extensive infrastructure modernisation drive is part of the preparation to accommodate the fifth-generation wireless (5G) cellular technology. The increased speed and responsiveness of the 5G network will transform customer experiences.

This all goes towards building onto the key foundation for growth as economies recover from the Covid-19 storm. According to the World Economic Forum, payment cards and digital wallets were catching on before the spread of the pandemic, but the shift has been accelerated by the risks imposed by the virus. Additionally, widespread lockdowns gave e-commerce a tailwind, another boon for digital transactions.

What has become increasingly apparent is that the old systems of the past are no longer fit for the 21st century, where technological innovations play a constant, critical role in our lives. This is a fundamental moment in history, not only to limit the spread of the virus, but to shape the system to accommodate the unbanked using mobile money platforms.

Mobile money will increasingly see various financial institutions collaborating and integrating their services and systems with telecoms companies globally, enabling greater convenience and easier access to money and transacting.

The technological advancements of the fourth industrial revolution will further create an ecosystem that will pave the way for innovative digital solutions in the foreseeable future. We are well-prepared to facilitate these exciting moves and to bring broader digital benefits to more people as we begin to transition to the “new normal”.

* Felix Kamenga, chief officer: MTN SA Mobile Financial Services

* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL or of title sites


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