Cash Leads Nigerian Payments

calendar iconDec 3, 2021

Cash continues to lead payment options in Nigeria, with debit cards and mobile payments the most popular cashless choices while credit cards struggle to make a mark on the payments landscape.

Nigeria’s circulating currency saw a 19 percent rise in 2020 according to the Central Bank of Nigeria’s newly-released Annual Report, with the nation’s four highest denomination banknotes accounting for nearly 63.5 percent of total currency in circulation in terms of volume and 98 percent of its value. This is in line with trends seen elsewhere, such as India, as we reported last week. The integrity of these circulating notes was also measured, with just 13 counterfeit notes found per million in 2020, compared to 20 per million in 2019, representing a 21 percent decrease by volume.

The ongoing dominance of cash is set against a rise in e-transactions of some 42 percent in 2020 compared with 2019, as reported by It notes that cashless transactions are typically concentrated in densely populated urban areas such as Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja while these see less penetration in other regions.

A Statista survey, the results of which were published in September 2021, explored how people nationwide typically paid in shops, restaurants and at other points of sale in the previous 12 months. 75 percent reported using cash, with debit cards the next most popular at 62 percent and mobile payments via smartphone close behind at 60 percent.

Statista notes that credit cards are struggling to take off, with penetration of the payments market particularly low for such a large economy. As of January 2021, it reports around 40 percent of Nigerians aged 15 or over had an account with a financial institution—forecasting this figure could rise to 61 percent by 2025—and 5.6 percent use mobile money accounts. The percentage of those who own a credit card is significantly lower at approximately 2.6 percent.

Last Updated: Jan 17, 2022