Consumer appetite for digital payments surges in Kenya

Written By: KBC Reporter

As the world went into pandemic lockdown in 2020, consumers shifted their spending habits to embrace contactless tap-and-go payments and online shopping.

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As stores closed and social distancing took hold, retailers worldwide moved their businesses online, embraced e-commerce, and explored the potential of new ways to pay. More than a year later, research from Mastercard shows that the adoption of new payment technologies is rising, and consumer appetite for new, fast and flexible digital experiences continues to grow.

The Mastercard New Payments Index shows 99% of Kenyan consumers will consider using at least one emerging payment method, such as cryptocurrency, biometrics, contactless, or QR code, in the next year.

Over three-fourths of respondents (77%) agree they have tried a new payment method they would not have tried under normal circumstances, but the pandemic has galvanized people to try flexible new payment options to get what they want when they want it.

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With this interest and consumer demand also comes a greater expectation for businesses to provide multiple ways to shop and pay. In fact, 88% of Kenyan consumers say they are more excited about shopping at retailers who offer the latest payment methods. Additionally, 81% of Kenyan consumers say that digital payment methods help them save money.

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“The pandemic made us think differently, partly out of necessity,” said Craig Vosburg, Chief Product Officer at Mastercard.

“To deliver the choice and flexibility that consumers need – and increasingly expect –retailers worldwide need to offer a range of payment solutions that are easy to access and always on. As we look ahead, we need to continue to enable all choices, both in-store and online, to shape the fabric of commerce and make the digital economy work for everyone.” He added

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Contactless technology was the digital catalyst to explore new payment options because of its fast, secure, and touch-free experience. Between the first quarter of 2020 and the same period in 2021, more than 100 markets saw contactless as a share of total in-person transactions grow by at least 50 percent.

A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, contactless is showing its staying power and dynamism – in the first quarter of 2021 alone, Mastercard saw 1 billion more contactless transactions worldwide as compared to the same period of 2020. All signs point to a continued growth path for contactless, with nearly 7 in 10 consumers globally anticipating using a contactless card this year.

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“The world as we now know it has changed dramatically since the outbreak of the pandemic, accelerating long-term shifts in consumer transactions and payment methods. We continue to work with our merchants, fintech, and banking partners to rapidly innovate payment options that meet consumer needs while ensuring we drive financial and digital inclusion,” said Raghav Prasad, Division President, Mastercard, Sub-Saharan Africa.

Looking to the future, digital currencies and wallets, wearables, biometrics, contactless, and QR codes are trending as emerging payments technologies as people’s comfort with them and understanding of them increases and the use of cash decreases.

In fact, 96% of consumers in Kenya have more ways to pay compared to this time last year. The exploding interest in new payment technologies may encourage businesses to expand their options at the checkout.

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