China and Ghana Reflect Rise of QR Codes as Cash Alternative – Finovate

China and Ghana Reflect Rise of QR Codes as Cash Alternative - Finovate
China and Ghana Reflect Rise of QR Codes as Cash Alternative - Finovate

QR code payments may not inherit the earth. But they may be one of the key technologies developing countries can leverage in order to bring both untaxed merchants and underbanked consumers into their formal national economies.

These are some of the top level conclusions reached in the report – QR Code Developments May Disrupt the Disrupters – from Mercator Advisory Group published late last year. The author, Brian Riley, credited three factors: better authentication, centralized clearance, and improvements to the payments network as giving QR codes renewed viability as a payment acceptance option in some markets.

The convenience of QR (Quick Response) codes as a payment option is clear. They are a fast, easy-to-use compliment to mobile commerce that requires little to no equipment. Armed with a QR code scanning app, their ubiquitous mobile devices and their cameras, consumers can make in-person purchases without relying on cash or physical cards. QR codes also have shown promise as an option for ecommerce, as well.

Adoption of QR code based mobile payments has been modest in markets in the West, such as the U.S. and the U.K. However in regions like the Asia-Pacific, QR code usage has soared. Greg Geng, VP of Tencent’s WeChat Business Group told CNBC last fall that in China, “payment methods using QR codes have replaced cash and cards in just five years.” In fact, the country is now making headlines for the way it is leveraging its affection for QR codes to help fight the spread of the coronavirus.

The news from Ghana this week is further evidence that QR codes continue to prove their mettle. A subsidiary of Ghana’s national bank, Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) has partnered with global payments solution provider HPS to launch its Universal QR Code and Proxy Pay platform. The solution will enable consumers to make instant payments from mobile wallets, cards, and bank accounts by scanning QR codes with their mobile devices.

Ghana is a pioneer in this regard, being the first country in Africa to introduce a national, QR code payment system. The initiative is believed to be a part of the country’s attempt to transition toward significantly less reliance on cash. “At this time, our quest toward a modern, cashless society is more important than ever and we are proud to be the first African country to implement this universal QR code solution,” GhIPSS CEO Archie Hesse said. “HPS has delivered an agile, comprehensive solution during a time of global crisis and we can foresee incredible benefits.”

Abdeslam Alaoui Smaili, HPS CEO, echoed Hesse’s sentiments about the power of QR codes to support a move away from paper currency, calling the initiative “an important part to a long-term goal of a cashless society.”

HPS offers a comprehensive suite of solutions, PowerCARD, that covers the entire payment value chain and enables its partners to process payments regardless of channel or initiated means-of-payment. With more than 400 institutions in 90+ countries using HPS’ technology, the company was founded in 1995 and maintains offices in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Billon announced blockchain-based proof of concept with Polish electric company Tauron.
  • Euromoney looks at how finechs in the CEE region are benefitting as consumers opt for digital payments rather than cash.
  • Silicon Canals features Ukrainian fintech startups that are “taking the industry to the next level.”

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Dubai-based Spotii goes live in UAE with its Shop Now Pay Later platform.
  • Egyptian digital lender Shahry locks in $650,000 in pre-seed funding.
  • Securrency forges strategic partnership with investment management and banking company, Musharaka Capital, to develop digital asset issuance platform in Saudi Arabia.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Partnership between MoneyGram and India’s Federal Bank to bring a direct-to-bank-account credit solution to Indian consumers.
  • Uzbekistan president pledges reform of banking system, including the privatization of six bank.
  • Indian cryptocurrency exchange Shiftal to leverage digital identity verification technology from Yoti to support compliant customer onboarding.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Mexico’s Flux partners with Bonnuscard, Moneypool, and Cuando Volvamos to enable businesses to offer pre-paid digital gift cards.
  • Financial inclusion-based accelerator makes its Latin American debut with a launch in Mexico.
  • SME payments company Kushki goes live in Mexico, having already expanded to Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, and Peru.


  • Validus, a Singapore-based P2P lending platform, raises another $20 million in Series B+ funding ahead of its expansion into Thailand.
  • Indonesia’s Pintek, which helps students and educational institutions alike access credit, raises an undisclosed amount of funding from Accion Ventures Lab.
  • Fintech News Singapore features the top ten fintech companies in the Philippines.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Voyance, a data science startup based in Nigeria, launches fintech fraud tracking database, Sigma.
  • South African cryptocurrency exchange Altcoin Trader enables instant EFT withdrawals from any bank account.
  • WeeTracker looks at the strength of the wealthtech component of Kenya’s fintech industry.

Top image designed by Freepik