March 30, 2015/POSTED BY Walter Heidenfels/

Advanced technology is first developed in the US or Europe, it catches on in these countries and then slowly, if at all, it is introduced into developing countries – this is the order we have come to expect.

It is Africa, however, of all places, which is emerging as a pioneer in the development of a new technology. Experts expect that the first cashless society will materialize, not in the modernized countries of the West, but in Africa. While 54% of all goods in Germany are still paid for in cash, the trend in Kenya, for example, has been going in a different direction.

“Africa will be the first cashless society”

The payment procedure developed and introduced by the largest phone compay in Kenya is called “M-Pesa”. More than three quarters of Kenyans own a mobile phone, 80% of these people also use this device for payments – from energy and water bills, to daily groceries and international transfers from economic migrants. The advantages for users who often don’t have a bank account: no long queues as is the normally the case with cash payments, less fear of pick pocketing, and low costs of only 10% per transfer.

Police in Afghanistan, who have been receiving their wages from the State over a mobile phone payment system for some time, were amazed at a supposed salary increase. For the first time they had received their complete pay without supervisors first pocketing a piece of it for themselves.

In Western countries, where banking systems enjoy a wide coverage, only a minority of people are interested in making payments over their mobile phone. Internet concerns such as Google or Apple, however, want to develop this business further. They in particular deserve the data of their customers. With payments made via App they would now have access to this treasure trove of data even for purchases made in store. The old fashioned cash payment doesn’t leave behind a data trail, which may otherwise be of extreme interest.