If your current location is somewhere in Africa at the time of reading this article, the next purchase you make today will likely be paid for in cash.

Now I am no soothsayer but judging from what statistics show, there is a high chance that I am right.


Key takeaways:

  1. Cash is still king in Africa. In 2019, the continent’s non-cash transactions amounted to only $17 billion in 2019, compared to $216 billion in Europe or $244 billion in Asia.

  2. However, digital transactions are rising—five out of the seven unicorns on the continent are payment companies. 

  3. Still, regulators have a role to play in creating enough incentives in their licensing standards to attract potential startup founders to want to set up local operations and build viable payment solutions.


In 2021, just about half of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) used an electronic form of payment (i.e. a debit/credit card or a mobile wallet like Apple Pay). In contrast, that figure is as high as 96% for OECD member countries, according to the World Bank’s Global Findex Database. 

Between 2014-2019, non-cash transactions worldwide grew by 13%, but when we look at how different regions contributed to that growth, we see that Africa is barely pulling its weight.