Forces driving penetration Unfortunately, the reign of cash comes with some disadvantages for consumers and for merchants/banks.
Banks and merchants raise prices because they have to contend with manual acceptance, record keeping, counting, storage, security and transportation of currency (Mc Kinsey, February 2014).
These are some of many forces driving credit card adoption.
According to Cap Gemini (World Payment Report 2013), governments in Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria, Namibia and South Africa are strongly supporting these programmes and investments. EMV credit cards feature an embedded security chip that provides enhanced security in an attempt to stop fraud.
Much of Africa, however, still uses magnetic strip cards like in the US.
South Africa is one area where EMV cards are taking off.
In Kenya, Master Card and Visa are making a big push to migrate the country from magnetic strip cards to EMV cards.
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Credit card usage in Africa trails other continents significantly, mostly because of the extremely rural nature of most residences.
Studies (Mc Kinsey, February 2014) indicate that almost nine out of 10 financial transactions in Kenya, for example, are still made in cash.
In most parts of sub-Saharan Africa, the number is closer to eight in 10. One reason may be that the population in this part of the world lacks trust in credit card technology, partly because of the high fraud rates in the region.
Consolidating technology and process As much as individual companies are expanding their credit card payment programmes, the inhibitor to full pan-African adoption is consolidation of technology and process.
Without the migration to common industry standards, such as GIM-UEMOA, as well as XML and SWIFT networks, widespread adoption will lag (Source: Cap Gemini).
September 2014 issue notes that US-based Visa and Master Card have the biggest presence in Africa, with Visa accounting for 57% of all credit card purchases and Master Card accounting for 39%.