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The Structural Changes that are Taking Place in the African Banking Sector

The pandemic and its associated lockdowns have highlighted the take-up of mobile banking services and other digital platforms. Indeed, it is possible that the pandemic has speeded up the adoption of digital banking technology and services by a couple of years. Across the continent, it appears that traditional banks have lost out to mobile money providers in terms of payment fees because of lockdown restrictions but also because of fears over infection via physical transactions. Customers themselves simply preferred not to handle cash where possible. A recent survey of Kenyan banks reveals more rapid uptake of all digital platforms, even in a country where they were already as far embedded as Kenya – a market in which Safaricom’s M-Pesa had 20.5m users at the start of 2021. The trend was given a big boost by the decision of Kenyan banks and telecoms operators to lift mobile transaction charges during the course of the pandemic. Taken as a whole, Sub-Saharan Africa is the second fastest-growing, and the second most profitable banking market in the world, partly because of the rapid adoption of new technology. Although most customers have yet to try banking apps, 80% of African banks now offer them and almost all the rest plan to roll them out in the near future.