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Publication

12 December 2018

Moving money and mindsets: increasing digital remittances across Africa

In 2015, the UK government committed to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 10.7c), which states that the global average cost of remittances should be no more than 3% of the send amount by 2030, with no single corridor being more than 5%.

With its goal to reduce costs and scale formal flows, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and its Africa-based partner, FSD Africa, are interested in exploring whether there are ways of accelerating the migration of remittance senders from cash to digital channels.

FSD Africa and DMA Global’s research across 7 African diaspora communities in London aims to understand the reasons behind the existing preference for cash-based remittances in the UK-based Africa diaspora community and the main motivators that could – and are – being used for a switch to digital services.

Moving Money and Mindsets finds that the use of online remittance services has surged in recent years, with roughly half of the FGD participants now using formal online services. These participants, for the most part, report having switched to using online services within the last one to two years.

The FGDs suggest that the ‘stickiness of cash’ with respect to sending remittances, varies significantly between diaspora communities. Cash was found to be most ‘sticky’ amongst diaspora from DRC, Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone. These are also the ‘receive-countries’ with the least-developed domestic payment systems. A developed domestic payment system is essential for the growth of international digital remittance services. Conversely, the use of online services was most common (and cash least ‘sticky’) among the Tanzanian, Ghanaian and Kenyan participants. These are also the receive-countries with the more developed domestic payment infrastructures.