Africa’s e-commerce sector is rapidly growing, with a massive consumer market of over 1.3 billion people. Projections indicate that the number of e-commerce users in Africa will surpass half a billion by 2025.
The African eCommerce growth is explained by growing internet access, increased smartphone penetration, rising digital literacy, and innovative solutions tailored for local markets. A key innovation adoption is the alternative payment methods landscape that is driving inclusion in eCommerce.
In this article, we’ll explore how alternative payment methods are unleashing Africa’s eCommerce potential.
Key Current Challenges in African E-commerce
Despite its growth, the eCommerce sector in Africa faces numerous challenges. Key among the challenges are:
- Limited Internet access: This hinders widespread online participation and adoption of innovative e-commerce payment processing like digital payments.
- Logistical challenges: Inadequate transportation networks, poor addressing systems, and inefficient delivery services are affecting the timely delivery of goods and impacting eCommerce performance.
- Payment infrastructure: This includes limited access to traditional banking systems, primarily cash-based transactions, and concerns about online payment security due to fraud and digital threats. As of 2022, cash was the main payment method used in some of the largest African economies in online retail, such as Morocco (66%), Egypt (57%), South Africa (44%), Kenya (40%), and Nigeria (37%).
Understanding Alternative Payment Methods
Alternative Payment Methods (APMs) refer to any method of payment that is not cash, credit, or debit and are usually different from major card providers like Visa or Mastercard.
APMs range from international digital wallets like PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Alipay and Venmo to local payment options like mobile money payments like MNET in Nigeria and M-Pesa in Kenya. Other examples of APMs are account-based transfers, cryptocurrency payments/transactions, and Buy Now Pay Later, like Klarna.
To operate successfully, APMs are typically offered through a cooperating payment gateway. For example, Cellulant, a payment platform, offers Ting, a Payment Gateway, which provides tailored e-commerce payment solutions for APMs across Africa. With a single API, it offers a comprehensive payment infrastructure enabling businesses to collect payments via mobile money, cards, or QR codes.
The success in the adoption of APMs in Africa is fueled by many growth drivers, including:
- Increased internet penetration across Africa
- A continuous growth in e-Commerce and populations that are increasingly embracing online shopping.
- Increased availability of local Fintech solutions, such as Cellulant that provides localized payment solutions.
- Robust security measures implemented by payment service providers have addressed the security and trust issues.
- Government and policy support.
Advantages of Alternative Payment Methods
Fintech Innovations and eCommerce entrepreneurs are reshaping Africa’s fast-growing alternative payment methods with solutions for consumers and businesses alike. Businesses that use APMs get to enjoy the following key benefits:
Increased financial inclusion
APMs bridge the gap for those lacking traditional banking services, fostering financial inclusion. Offering preferred payment methods at checkout enhances the e-commerce experience for customers.
Enhanced customer trust and confidence
Robust security measures implemented by alternative payment service providers have addressed the security and trust issues, once barriers to e-commerce adoption. This has resulted in consumers’ trust and confidence in their devices and e-commerce platforms.
Facilitation of cross-border transactions
Alternative payment methods are changing everyday functions, including how Africans shop, bank, and do business. APMs supporting various currencies enable seamless cross-border transactions for users, with major e-commerce players adopting these methods to accommodate their customers’ seamless eCommerce checkout process.
Case Study and Overcoming Challenges
APMs have transformed transactions for businesses and consumers in Africa. Mobile wallets are attractive to consumers due to the lack of traditional banking services and a large rural population. Customers can load their mobile wallets in various ways, including cash, carrier billing, or bank transfers.
On the other hand, APMs have unleashed the great potential and growth of e-commerce in Africa. For example, Africa leads the world in mobile money transactions, accounting for nearly 70% of the world’s mobile money volumes. Digital wallets have experienced growth and are the preferred method for online transactions in Kenya (19%) and Nigeria (16%). Thanks to APMs, projections indicate that the number of e-commerce users in Africa will surpass half a billion by 2025.
A key example of the success of alternative payment methods is how Cellulant’s payment processing platform is powering online and offline payments for businesses in Africa. There are many success stories, such as the partnership between Cellulant and Copia Global, a B2C e-commerce platform in Africa. This partnership enables Copia’s diaspora and urban customers to conveniently carry out transactions and purchases for people in Kenya’s rural areas using the Cellulant network. Other major e-commerce companies across different industries that use Cellulant payment gateway are Jumia, Glovo, Booking.com, Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates Airlines, Glovo, Kenya Airways, Uber, and Bolt, Jambojet, among others.
Businesses that integrate with the Cellulant payment platform can process payments from over 250 payment methods. This keeps them from spending resources on multiple payment solutions to send or receive funds. Consumers also get a variety of convenient options for payment and ease of use of that improves an e-commerce store’s customer experience.
Future Trends and Opportunities
The rise of APMs in Africa signifies their pivotal role in driving the continent’s digital economy. The APMs and ecommerce sector have to embrace the following trends:
1. Increased digital online transactions
Aside from Africa’s rapidly expanding population, a key draw for many businesses is the continent’s rapid uptake of digital payments, which is among the quickest in the world. By 2025, at least 70% of all online transactions across Africa are expected to be done with alternative payment methods. Merchants can use this rise and implement more APMs in their eCommerce stores.
2. Emerging technologies
Emerging technologies like payment gateways, blockchain, AI, and IoT have been seen to shape the future of payments. These technologies offer secure, efficient, decentralized payment solutions, fostering trust and accessibility in financial transactions.
Another big technology and innovation change is the growth of mobile money. More and more people in Africa are using their phones to send and receive payments, thanks to platforms like M-Pesa in Kenya and MTN Mobile Money in Ghana.
Additionally, payment gateways like Tingg are reshaping how to send and receive money online in Africa, making it easier for businesses to transact without going through a traditional bank.
3. Partnerships and innovation in the payment landscape
Collaborations between fintechs, telecom operators, and traditional financial institutions can support the adoption of alternative payment solutions tailored to African markets, enhancing financial inclusion.
4. Anticipated impact on the growth trajectory of African e-commerce
One of the key impacts of e-commerce growth in Africa is the interoperability among various digital payment systems. This allows retailers to accept various payment methods seamlessly and helps to bridge the gap between in-store and online transactions. For example, in Tingg by Cellulant’s system, through dynamic QR codes, the payment process is simplified across both online and in-store channels for a seamless payment experience.
Alternative payment methods provide user-friendly, low-cost, and accessible payment options to individuals, increasing consumer inclusion and cross-border transactions. Their rapid increase and adoption signal a change in Africa’s payment ecosystem, and they’re a gateway to Africa’s eCommerce success and growth.
It is time for eCommerce stakeholders to embrace and invest in diverse payment solutions and benefit from their innovations that cater to the needs of all consumers.
Join the Cellulant payment platform to enjoy full-stack offline and online payment capabilities. Businesses across various sectors, such as Airlines, Telecoms, e-commerce, Ride-Hailing, Retail, and Remittances, can use it to deliver a frictionless payment experience to their customers.