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Tackling Covid-19 economic damage and closing the digital divide

2 min read.

The devastating economic shockwaves caused by Covid-19 have laid bare the desperate need for greater financial inclusion. Broader access to e-money services can play a key role in meaningful economic development, even as South Africa’s (and much of the African continent) banking environment remains highly regulated, limiting the roll-out and reach of mobile money.

In a 2019 report, GSMA noted that registered mobile-money users topped the topped the 1-billion mark in 2019. Of the transaction value totaling R469 million, Southern Africa accounts for only 2% and in 2020, and GSMA says that there are still 800 million people in the region that remain disconnected to mobile internet.

It is clear that closing the digital divide has never been more important. Narrowing the gap is especially urgent given the tremendous strain placed on developing economic due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Africa needs technology and mobile money innovations to help bridge this gap and connect the disconnected. Of course, economic inclusion made possible by internet access and mobile wallets alone cannot guarantee a sustainable economy. More focused industry and government collaboration can stimulate small business development, which can then be supported by digital money propositions.

Covid-19 has accelerated the uptake of cashless systems; a trend we anticipate will continue and gain even more momentum. The pandemic and economic fallout has also accelerated the need for markets to address the digital divide with urgency if economies are to survive and then thrive.

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