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South Africa: Rapid payments to ease the risks of cash for the poor

By David Whitehouse
Posted on Monday, 4 October 2021 14:58

People queue for social grant payments at a post office in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, 13 Nov 2020. (AP Photo/Theo Jeptha)

South Africa’s planned Rapid Payments Programme can reduce the risks to the poor of carrying cash, Ghita Erling, CEO of the South Africa Payments Association, tells The Africa Report.

The widespread practice of South Africans drawing out whole monthly benefit payments or salaries in one go creates a risk of theft, Erling says in Johannesburg. “Cash carries a cost for the poor. People underestimate that cost.”

The rapid payments system is being developed by the association along with Africa’s largest clearing house BankServAfrica. The aim is to create competition between cash and digital payments, Erling says. The system will make it possible to send money to a mobile phone or an email address in real-time without knowing the recipient’s banking details.