Cash transactions to surge in South African retail sector. Photo:

Cash transactions to surge in SA retail over the festive season

Latest research has proven that cash remains the payment option of choice for most South African consumers.


Cash transactions to surge in South African retail sector. Photo:

Cash remains the payment option of choice for most South African consumers—with peak trading periods like the festive season seeing a sharp increase in the cash transactions that retailers need to handle.


It’s important that retailers support customer choice by enabling shoppers to pay by card, with smart devices, or notes and coins. That’s according to Mark Templemore-Walters, Operations Director at Capital Connect, who said that as many as 90% of transactions in South Africa are still settled with cash.

“Retailers need to continue to support cash transactions to avoid excluding people who don’t have bank accounts or cards, as well as to maximise sales over the festive season.”

Mark Templemore-Walters

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According to Bankserv—the banking sector’s clearing partner and official payment system operator—consumer preference for cash is particularly evident over holiday periods such as the festive season. The organisation says that the amount of cash circulating in South Africa is R182 billion, with orders of R84 billion processed during the December period last year.

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The role of cash in inclusive retailing

Templemore-Walters added that retailers that go cashless, risk shutting out people who can’t use cards or digital payments because they don’t have a smartphone, or who can’t get a bank account and card as they don’t have an ID or proof of address. These are some of the most vulnerable populations, including those in rural areas and foreign nationals. 

According to research from the Bureau of Market Research, commissioned by Capital Connect, around 11% of transactions over the Black Friday and festive season periods will go through informal retailers—the vast majority of which operate on a cash-only basis. Accenture research shows that 80% of South Africa’s population visits spaza shops daily.

In addition, cash costs are low for consumers and merchants alike for many transaction types, particularly smaller payments. “Cash is convenient, universal and works when there’s load shedding. It gives consumers privacy and control,” Templemore-Walters explained.

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Supporting consumer choice 

Leading retailers should not choose for customers how they pay, but give them the choice of options that meet their needs in terms of cost, speed, convenience, accessibility and security, he adds. Retailers should ensure that shoppers can transact safely and conveniently in-store, whether they want to use cards, cash, or a digital wallet.

Contrary to popular belief, cash acceptance is no more expensive or risky for retailers than card or digital payments, Templemore-Walters further explained.