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A Cashless Society in Africa: Spotlight on the South African and Zimbabwean environments

This paper is a Case Study to the Interim Paper. The paper considers the wider African context of a large, fast changing and diverse continent out of step with many other areas of the globe from a development and economic perspective. There are vast rural-urban divides across the continent leading to different responses and needs for a cash less society in the future. The issue of distrust in technological change and cost of access is much larger in rural communities who are hesitant to embrace mobile or technological innovations. The need for forms of cash in a largely informal and unbanked economy has led to the variety of options and speeds in the continent as it embraces cash less transactions.

The South African environment is explored by presenting some environmental descriptions on how the formal and informal economies interplay with each other along with a few of the existing innovations making their mark on this large African economy. Whilst the South African financial industry is one of the most advanced on the continent, the size of its unbanked and informal economy means that there is not yet a uniform view on how the future changes to a cashless society will emerge.

In Zimbabwe, the unique cash-less circumstance that has ended up becoming the long term status quo has been explored by considering the back ground to the ongoing economic challenges facing the nation and how politics and decisions made by authorities and consumers have contributed to the response by businesses in Zimbabwe.  This nation once prosperous nation is now largely disconnected from the world financial infrastructure and is charting its own course, almost going backwards whilst seemingly going forwards quickly.

A SWOT analysis at the end of this report details the risks and benefits faced by the general economy, the public, non-financial businesses, governments and banks as well as the payments eco-system operating in African countries.

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