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Digital money transfers are becoming entrenched in South African culture as a popular way to send cash across the country.

Today, if you want to send money to anyone, anywhere in South Africa, it can be done via a mobile phone. This infrastructure is widening access to the financial system and allows cash to be transferred more efficiently and economically than ever before.

Thanks to the explosive growth in smartphones, digital payments have become the norm. In a 2019 report, Icasa shows that smartphone penetration has doubled over the past two years and has come to sit at nearly 80%.

Standard Bank is seeing a month-on-month increase of 70 000 new customers using the Instant Money service. Transaction volumes are climbing steadily at 20% year on year, while transactional values are seeing a 26% increase year on year. However, during the years these spikes are also seen at month-end, during long weekends, school breaks and traditional holiday seasons.

Ms Nelisa Zulu, Standard Bank Head of Merchant Solutions, says the increased uptake of mobile money transfer services is due in part to the fact that South Africans, including those without formal bank accounts, are becoming comfortable with digital banking services.

Further to that, this growth shows the strong appetite for a practical, safe and cost-effective method to sending money in South Africa. Whether in rural areas or city centres, money can be sent or received.

“We are finding that Instant Money is particularly popular with people living in cities who wish to transfer money to family members in rural areas. Money can be sent and collected at Standard Bank ATMs or other designated collection points within most communities. This makes it more convenient than other forms of payment in the country, which take time to be complete,” says Ms Zulu.

Standard Bank offers the Instant Money transfer service at more than 6 500 access points across the country. KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape are the biggest recipients of Instant Money vouchers More than R60 billion has been processed since Instant Money’s inception.

Transaction volumes on the Standard Bank Mobile App continue to grow more than 70% year-on-year, with average user transaction values having increased from under R500 to over R700 in the last few years.

Instant Money not only enables customers to transfer money safely and conveniently, they can do so at a fraction of the cost. Average charges are between R9.95 and R12.50 per transaction, with no fee to the beneficiary.

This ease of transacting has also caught the attention of businesses, who are using the service to reduce payment costs and time it takes for a payment to arrive.

Ms Zulu says: “We are also seeing a big increase in Instant Money for Businesses with annual growth of over 100%. Bulk Instant Money allows businesses of any size to disburse funds through the Instant Money platform to any person in real time. Recipients don’t need a bank account and can collect their funds at a date and time of their convenience. We have examples where businesses had payment challenges and, at short notice, had to pay more than 2 000 employees. Instant Money Bulk payments were utilised to facilitate this transfer of funds.”

The flexibility of the Instant Money service is also an advantage. It offers benefits that include:

·        Providing cash to people who are ‘unbanked’ and need money for their daily activities;

·        Having instant access to cash when there is an emergency;

·        Being able to make payments to people without knowing their banking details; and,

·        Distance is not a factor which influences payment reliability.

Accessing Instant Money is possible through online banking, mobile app, cell phone banking or at Standard Bank ATMs or retail partners, making Instant Money the most accessible money transfer in the country based on variety of locations.