Africa

OPINION | South Africa faces one big obstacle in its quest to go cash-free


Airtel was one of the four key operators in Tanzania. (Idrees Abbas/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Airtel was one of the four key operators in Tanzania. (Idrees Abbas/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Mobile money in South Africa is booming, but challenges with interoperability are stopping it from reaching its full potential. Collaboration between mobile financial services could be win-win, saysWenbo Zheng.

Mastercard or Visa? Shop anywhere in the world today, and the chances are this is the choice you get at the checkout if you want to pay with a credit card. Despite being competitors, these two card schemes have worked together over the past few decades to ensure that they hold dominion over global commerce. Their success can be attributed to the development of a shared interoperable ecosystem that makes it easier for customers to send money to one another instantly, no matter who they bank with.

Interoperability created economies of scale and laid down a vast network across which the two competitors could thrive, benefiting consumers and businesses alike. Now, mobile money operators in South Africa are looking to do the same for digital payments.

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