MENA’s Unbanked to Drive Crypto Adoption While China’s 5G SIM Cards to Enable Digital Payments


  • In MENA region, two-thirds of people unbanked but over half of the countries have 70% mobile subscriber penetration rate
  • China Telecom working on huge blockchain projects with superior safety features

In the next five years, half of the smartphone owners who don’t have a bank account will use a mobile-accessible cryptocurrency account, said Miriam Burt, managing VP at Gartner while delivering his Keynote presentation titled: “Gartner’s Strategic Predictions for 2020 and Beyond,” at Oracle OpenWorld 2020.

Financial leaders will have to anticipate the future of consumer payments in order to remain competitive and optimize customer satisfaction, said Burt. And as the digital currency space matures, the future of payments will be centered around cryptocurrency that will target the unbanked.

“In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, two-thirds of people have no bank accounts; however, more than half of the countries have a mobile subscriber penetration rate of 70% of the population. This means we have more people who have phones than bank accounts. An estimated 23% of these people are under-banked, so they have access to smartphones, but don’t have access to traditional financial services.”

Under and unbanked will offer cryptocurrencies a huge opportunity to be at the center of digital wallets and mobile payments. It will also increase financial inclusion initiatives globally, she said.

China’s 5G SIM cards to trade in Cryptocurrency

At the forefront of this, Burt predicts, would be China which is ready to become the first central bank to launch its own digital currency. Burt said:

“China Telecom is one of the largest operators in China and they are working on huge blockchain projects which use 5G SIM cards to trade in crypto-currency. If they pull this off, the platform is going to be the largest in the world.”

“This will have superior safety features which will become standard, such as digital authentication and decentralized authentication, to enable these kinds of crypto unit transactions.”

Africa to Lead the Crypto Adoption

Released in Oct. 2019, the report stated that as marketplaces and social media platforms start supporting crypto payments, the world will shift to mobile-accessible crypto accounts, with Africa expected to have the highest growth rate. It will also drive e-commerce as trading partners that previously were unable to access capital markets will emerge in the sector.

72% of e-commerce sales are expected to take place on mobile devices by 2021, as per research firm Statista. The blockchain meanwhile will be used to authenticate 30% of world news and video content by 2023, countering deep fake technology, it predicted.

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