47% of Eswatini are online, with mobile phone usage equivalent to 104% of the population.
No Open Banking
According to 2018 FinScope research, 87% of adults were financially included, with 52% formally served by a bank, and 13% were financially excluded. 23% of adults said they saved money using a mobile money wallet, and 66% of people in the survey had made a digital payment, most using their mobile money wallet.
The Eswatini National Payments System Vision 2025 stated a desire for an interoperable, 24/7, real-time payments system to create a regulatory framework, develop a cross-border remittance regime, and develop a framework, including sandboxes, for the regulation of innovation.
By 2019, there were 2 million online banking or bank app transactions (p. 27) taking place through mobile phones, compared to 72 million mobile money transactions. Higher value transactions, however, were preferred through online banking or banking apps, with the value of these in 2019 37 times higher than the mobile money transactions reflecting either the target audience for money apps or the same customers preferring using banks for higher money transactions.
The Eswatini National Payment Switch project is underway, with the charter published in 2020.
The sandbox outlined in the Vision document (p. 42) was stated to need more development. Only one financial service provider had successfully entered the sandbox because, according to the authors, of a lack of maturity of applicants and an inability to meet entry requirements. There was criticism by banks that the sandbox failed to reflect the innovation provided by them, prioritising Fintech, whereas Fintech’s feedback was a lack of the Central Bank of Eswatini (CBE) support and partnership between institutions. The CBE was looking to address these issues through discussion and promotion of inclusion.
The opening of APIs for digitalising payments is noted as a developmental area.