WEEKLY ROUNDUP - 22.01.2021

Your Friday fix for global fintech and payments news

It’s been a busy week in the payments industry, with many news stories to choose from. Here are our top three: a cashless society may be closer than we think for the UK - as merchants turn cash payers away, the rise of mobile money in Kenya has led to a significant decline in card payments in the country, and Compass Plus customer Network International has teamed up with Mastercard to boost the adoption of digital payments in the Middle East and Africa region.

Our weekly round-up brings you a dose of some of the biggest news announcements from the past seven days so you can keep an eye on all that’s shaping our world this week.

  • More than a third of UK shoppers blocked from paying cash in COVID-19 crisis
  • Mobile money overpowers card payments in Kenya
  • Mastercard and Network International launch digital payment platform in MEA region

More than a third of UK shoppers blocked from paying cash in COVID-19 crisis

Research from consumer group Which? has revealed that more than a third of UK consumers (34%) have been stopped from paying with cash since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The unclear messages around the safety of handling cash at the start of the pandemic are, in part, to blame, according to Which? Now there are calls to protect those individuals who heavily rely on the cash network for their daily purchases, with Which? asking the Government to track the number of businesses that have stopped accepting cash payments over the last year.

Jenny Ross, Money Editor at Which?, said the government “must urgently make the FCA responsible for tracking cash acceptance levels. Failure to do so will see the cash network crumble and leave millions of people abandoned.”

Mobile money overpowers card payments in Kenya

Data from Kenya’s Central Bank shows that banks in the country saw a huge drop in earnings from card payments in 2020. The US$11 billion deficit was seen as consumers stopped using their payment cards in favour of mobile payments, like M-Pesa, resulting in a 44.5% increase in mobile payments between March and November 2020.

This push toward mobile payments seemed to be down to a number of factors - lower value transactions were made free of charge,  transaction limits and daily limits for mobile money were doubled, and charges to transfer funds from customer bank accounts to mobile money wallets (and vice versa) were abolished.

Mastercard and Network International launch digital payment platform in MEA region

 Mastercard has teamed up with Compass Plus customer Network International to boost the adoption of digital payments in the MEA region by launching a digital payments platform next month. The new digital payments platform will enable merchants to accept mobile payments via QR code online and at POS terminals. The contactless ‘tap to pay’ feature will be launched later in the year. The platform will be launched in 40 countries initially, including Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa, before rolling out across the rest of the MEA region.

Paul Clarke, Head of Product & Innovation at Network International, commented: “Our partnership with Mastercard is focused on rapidly growing electronic payment usage across our region and this initiative is a major foundational step in meeting that goal. We believe the launch of this platform is the first in a series of steps towards delivering simplified, collaborative payment solutions across the payments value chain in the Middle East and Africa.”