Back to Innovation Atlas


No Open Banking

A Southern African country, with seventy per cent of its territory being the Kalahari Desert, the majority of its population uses some form of banking.

Botswana’s internet penetration sits at 61% of the population as of 2022, and the average person has at least one mobile phone (167% penetration). 

68% of the population was banked in 2014, either formally or informally, as of 2017, with 24% not accessing banking services. The country is predominantly urban, with the service sector creating the biggest area of employment, and hotels, trade and restaurants contributing 20% of GDP (2021). As of 2020, 82% of the population was formally included in the financial sector, with 16% completely unbanked. 46% used a formal savings service, with people in rural areas (40%) twice as likely as those in urban areas to save.

The Bank of Botswana has been shifting the country towards digital. The Electronic Payment Services Regulations of 2019 allowed for the licensing of electronic payment service providers, covering money transfer service providers such as mobile money and app-based providers.

Mobile money usage increased from 22% in 2014 to 54% in 2020 in Botswana. The UNCDF argues that financial products giving loans for education, or online payment systems for secondary school, would be very suitable for the country as it is a relatively literate country, with most children attending free primary schools. There is limited interoperability between banks and mobile money providers, with interactions based on bilateral agreements. Without a central, interoperable payment system that works across providers, the setting up of such agreements can be costly. The National Payments System Vision and Strategy 2020-2024 suggested the introduction of a National Retail Payments Switch (NRPS), a fully interoperable platform “for all domestic card and electronic payments, including through Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and point-of-sale, internet banking, proprietary cards, fuel cards, travel cards, mobile payments, and any new instruments that would become available in future.”  The Bank of Botswana also pledged to “embrace” Fintech companies, to improve access to financial services and to assess the potential of APIs, financial innovation hubs and sandboxes.

In the areas of payment system digitalisation, the Vision document announced an intention to use APIs and furthermore to explore the potential of a national digital ID.

The National Financial Inclusion Strategy of 2017-2022 stated that they wanted to “increase the depth of Financial Inclusion, growing the percentage of adults with access to two or more formal ten products from 43% to 75%, and reducing the excluded from 27% to 15%, by 2022 by growing mobile money and remittances, deepening bank reach, getting credit basics right, ensuring risk management products are available, and enabling alternative channels to serve the poor” (Ministry of Finance, 2017).

Botswana ranked 86th out of 134 countries in Wiley’s Digital Skills Global Index 2021