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For hundreds of years now, the most common method for paying for things has been with coins and notes. But with digital financial transactions becoming more and more commonplace, is cash destined to go the way of the dodo? For some people, the idea of a society where you no longer pay for anything with hard cash but instead swipe your card or scan a code with your phone sounds like a sci-fi future. For others, it’s already here.

Both Apple and Samsung have their own payment services, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. Both enable you to pay for items from vendors or from friends, and to send and receive money as easily as sending or receiving a message. Neither has launched in SA yet, but are sure not to be far off.

Cashless is king

In Sweden, one of the most developed financial markets in the world, the cashless society is very close to becoming a reality. Only 1% of the value of all payments are made using cash and cash only counts for 20% of in-store transactions. The Swedish government even has an entire web page dedicated to its cashless society.

In Africa, on the other hand, mobile money seems to be the future. Fewer than 5% of adults in sub-Saharan Africa own a credit card and over 80% don’t use banking at all. But for those who do, mobile money and airtime are rapidly gaining market dominance. With over half a billion Africans using mobile services and smartphone connections having doubled in the last two years, the market demand on the continent is very high.

M-Pesa, Vodacom’s mobile money network, is the largest in the world. It dominates the market in Tanzania and Uganda and over 80% of Kenyans use it. Using SMSs without the need of a formal bank account makes it incredibly accessible to a market with low smartphone and bank account penetration. In Kenya in 2015, M-Pesa processed more US$28 billion.

5 ways to pay in South Africa

While South Africa has yet to see the likes of Apple Pay or Samsung Pay, scannable codes for smartphones are becoming more and more commonplace. Mobile transacting company wiGroup, for example, is available at more than 80 000 retailers while SnapScan is present at over 26 000 South African businesses. More globally available systems like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are also poised to make an impact in the South African market.

Here are five different mobile money apps for South Africa that you can download from your app store:

  1. Snapscan: Snapscan is supported all over the country and links your debit or credit card to a QR code scanner.

  2. Zapper: Zapper is another QR code scanning app and is supported at just about every retailer where Snapscan isn’t.

  3. Flickpay: Primarily supported at Vida e Caffé stores, Flickpay works the same as Snapscan and Zapper.

  4. Masterpass: Built by Mastercard and Standard Bank, Masterpass is a digital wallet that works both online and in-store. You can also use Masterpass to pay for airtime and bundles in the My Vodacom App

  5. VCPay: VCPay acts as digital credit card that can be linked to an actual card or used with a prepaid option.

While a significant portion of the South African economy still relies on cash, apps like these signal that a cashless future economy built around mobile payments could well be on its way for Mzansi.

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