I’ve wondered about the slow adoption of this technology in America. Apparently, we just need to rapidly devalue our currency to encourage people.
No cash is transferred, and there’s not a credit card in sight. But customers haven’t got their daily khat fix for free; they’ve paid using their mobiles, transferring money on the sandy Somali street in seconds with little more than a mobile phone and a few numbers.
There are not many things tiny Somaliland can claim to be a world leader in, but cashless payments might be one.
The self-declared country, which broke away from Somalia in 1991 but remains unrecognised by the international community, has become something of a wild frontier for cashless payments as it charts a trajectory towards creating the world’s first cashless society.
Whether in a shack on the side of a road or a supermarket in the capital of Hargeisa, mobile payments are fast becoming the standard in the country.
There are not many things tiny Somaliland can claim to be a world leader in, but cashless payments might be one
“Most people are paying by mobile now,” Omar says, as he processes a payment on his mobile in one hand. “It’s so much easier.”
While developed and developing countries alike have been moving toward cashless payments with phones or contactless cards, Somaliland’s motivation is unique.
This shift away from cash is in part due to the rapid devaluing of the Somaliland shilling, the breakaway republic’s own currency which now trades at around 1 USD to 9,000 shillings. A few years ago it was just half that.