South Africa is Rapidly Digitizing, So Are Its Economy and Payment Methods. Here Are South Africa’s Top Payment Methods.
Selling directly to consumers and accepting B2B payments in South Africa requires a deep understanding of South Africa’s top payment methods. eCommerce merchants in South Africa are supporting diverse payment methods to support growth to an expected CAGR of 9.8% from 2020 to 2027 and reach a value of US$ 7.9 Billion. South Africa’s growing tech-savvy consumer base makes the country a lucrative market for merchants that understand local eCommerce trends and customer expectations.
Top South African eCommerce Trends
- 89% of the adult population owns a cell phone, one of the largest figures on the continent (Pew Research Center). And 45% of South Africans use mobile phones for more than four hours every day (GeoPoll)
- According to a Deloitte study, more than 70% of South Africans are shopping online at least once a month. And 2 out of 3 anticipate doing more online shopping in the coming year (Deloitte)
- 30% of users send and receive payments on their cell phones (Pew Research Center).
- In 2020 there were more than 18 million eCommerce users in South Africa (Research and Markets)
- The largest segment of South African eCommerce is fashion, representing 31% of revenue, followed by toys/hobby (27%) and electronics/media (18%) (eCommerceDB).
- Despite potential economic challenges from high unemployment and increased inflation, overall the eCommerce market is projected to grow by 10% annually over the next four years (eCommerceDB).
- South Africa’s eCommerce sector is growing faster than ever. In 2020, South Africa’s eCommerce grew by 66% compared to the year before, primarily due to restrictions placed on traditional retail stores. However, eCommerce has maintained is popularity as restrictions have eased (Deloitte)
South African Payment Method Trends
South Africa Payment Methods You Must Offer
Visa has gained traction in recent years and is the most popular credit card. Visa has a 48.6% share of all credit card transactions in South Africa (The Paypers). Credit cards comprise 41% of the market, down from 45% four years ago (Statista; Digital Marketing Community).
In addition to traditional credit cards, many store cards were issued by the nation’s large retailers such as Edcon, Foschini, and Truworths. However, the number of store cards issued is declining, a sign of a shifting preference in payment methods.
11% of online transactions in 2020 were made with cash (Statista). Accepting cash voucher payments is critical for online merchants who wish to reach the 25% of adults in South Africa who don’t have a bank account. (Africa Outlook). Additionally, Cash on Delivery (COD) is another popular payment method in the region.
Digital wallets are growing quickly as a payment method in South Africa, currently comprising 17% of eCommerce transactions (Statista). Samsung Pay is the most popular digital wallet in South Africa and surpassed two million transactions in South Africa in April 2020. Samsung leads smartphone sales in South Africa, and Samsung Pay supports many of the company’s mid-range smartphones. Other ewallets include Google Pay, Apple Pay and device-based payment apps Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay.
Kenyan’s wallet powerhouse M-PESA is derived from the Swahili word for money and is currently the largest fintech platform in Africa. M-PESA allows users without bank accounts to transfer money and make payments using their cell phones. However, its use in South Africa is quite limited.
Bank transfers have remained stable at 20% of the eCommerce market over the past four years (Statista; Digital Marketing Community) and are likely to maintain and even grow in market share as cash reliance declines and bank account adoption grows.
Merchants Must Meet Customers’ Expectations for Localized, Convenient Checkout Experiences in South Africa
In the Rainbow Nation, payment methods are as diverse as the population. With most of South Africa’s smartphone users under 35, trends toward digital payment methods such as ewallets and bank transfers are expected to continue going forward.
By supporting a wide variety of South African payment methods, merchants can increase conversions and introduce new customers to the international marketplace. With more than 18 million South Africans shopping online, merchants can’t afford to miss out on this dynamic market opportunity.
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Africa Outlook. “South Africa’s banked population reaches 75%” https://www.africaoutlookmag.com/industry-insights/article/367-south-africas-banked-population-reaches-75
Brand South Africa. “South Africa’s economy: Key sectors” https://www.brandsouthafrica.com/investments-immigration/economynews/south-africa-economy-key-sectors
Digital Marketing Community. “Credit cards are the most used online payment method by South African online shoppers at a rate of 45%.” https://www.digitalmarketingcommunity.com/indicators/online-payment-methods-south-africa-2017/
eCommerceDB. “The eCommerce market in South Africa.” https://eCommercedb.com/en/markets/za/all
Pew Research Center. “Cell Phones in Africa: Communication lifeline.” https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2015/04/15/cell-phones-in-africa-communication-lifeline/
Statista. Digital Market Outlook for South Africa. https://www.statista.com/outlook/co/digital-economy/south-africa#:~:text=The%20revenue%20share%20of%20eCommerce,amount%20to%20183%20in%202025.
Hanno Labuschagne. My Broadband. April 2021. Digital payment wallets in South Africa – how they work and which banks support them. https://mybroadband.co.za/news/banking/392339-digital-payment-wallets-in-south-africa-how-they-work-and-which-banks-support-them.html
Deloitte. The future of payments in South Africa. 2019. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/za/Documents/risk/za-The-future-of-payments-in-South-Africa%20.pdf
Deloitte Africa Digital Commerce Survey, 2020 https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/za/Documents/strategy/za-Deloitte-Digital-Commerce-SA-Consumer-Key-Themes-Report.pdf
Research and Markets. South Africa E-Commerce Market Size, Forecast 2022-2027, Industry Trends, Share, Growth, Impact of COVID-19, Opportunity Company Analysis