Real-Time Payments Forecasted to Help Generate 1.01% of GDP by 2026

Nigeria recorded 3.7 billion real-time transactions in 2021, which resulted in an estimated cost savings of $296 million for businesses and consumers. This helped to unlock $3.2 billion of additional economic output, representing 0.67% of the country’s GDP.

With real-time transactions set to rise to 8.8 billion in 2026, net savings for consumers and businesses are forecasted to climb to $2.3 billion. That would help to generate an additional $6.0 billion of economic output, equivalent to 1.01% of the country’s forecasted GDP.

Nigeria is one of the countries for which real-time payments provide the biggest economic growth opportunities. According to the Cebr, the theoretical impact of all payments being real-time could add 8.5% to formal GDP by 2026. However, these are theoretically modeled benefits; they do not suggest that there is no place for non-instant electronic payments or paper-based payments in the future.

NIBSS Instant Payments (NIP) is the real-time payments system in Nigeria, which was launched by Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) in July 2011. The system is supported by all commercial banks, micro-finance banks and mobile money operators, and can be used via different modalities including internet and mobile banking, bank branches, kiosks, mobile USD, POS terminals and ATMs, which helped NIP to achieve high adoption and usage rates. The COVID-19 pandemic also encouraged Nigerian consumers to shift from cash to electronic payment methods, which further supported real-time payments growth. Furthermore, the NIBSS launched NQR, an interoperable national QR code standard in March 2021 to facilitate instant P2B and P2P payments by scanning QR codes. This will further catapult real-time payments use, helping it to record an 18.6% CAGR from 2021- 2026 in terms of volume.

Key Stats

Real-Time Payment Types

Single Instance

Bulk Payments

Initiation/Authorization Methods

Bank Account

QR Codes

Year of Real-Time
Payments Launch




Message Standard


ACI’s Take

Traditionally a cash-based economy, Nigeria increasingly has a population that expects higher speeds, greater simplicity and modern thinking from financial service providers. Cash remains king, but this shift is testament to the success of government regulators in fostering rapid growth in digital openness, particularly payments. There is now an ongoing drive within Nigeria to extend this momentum to cross-border use cases.

If it can be put into practice, this desire to ensure domestic payment systems aren’t isolated, either regionally or globally, will benefit corporations and individuals alike. It will simplify and reduce the cost of international business, while removing nasty exchange rate-related surprises on returning home or for remittance payments.

So, in thinking about a strategy for 2022 and beyond, banks in the region need to position themselves to respond to changing — and changeable — consumer payments behavior and greater cross-border interoperability. The ideal state is an API-driven payments function that allows them to both connect to new schemes easily and innovate quickly using the real-time rails. This would set the country’s financial institutions on the path toward greater openness in banking and align them with the markets increasingly outward-facing and regional — even internationalist — viewpoint. (The risk however is that many will instead consider this a burden and fall behind as a result.)

Banks should therefore look at the market as entering a new phase of high opportunity and assess whether the technology they currently use is fit for purpose. Rather than think about an account-based system, a card-based system and an EFT platform, they should move to service-based architecture with a central platform where services are consumed, irrespective of the channel from which a request is initiated.

All this is about long-term thinking. Since regulations will mandate at least some of this journey, it is on banks to seize the moment and build beyond today’s short-term requirements. This will help them construct a business strategy that is future-proof and more fully aligned with what modern Nigeria needs.


Mobile Wallet Trends


% of adults who have a mobile wallet and have
used it in the past year (2021)

Real-Time Acceptance





Real-Time Total Participants

All Domestic Banks

Population Banking Level


Number of debit, credit and
charge cards per adult


Index to global average

  • Fully Banked
  • Progressing
  • Underbanked

Real-Time Transactions







Payments Fraud Rate


Population who reported being a
victim of fraud in the last 4 years

Top 3 Payment Fraud Types

% of fraud victims Trend

Confidence trick




Card details stolen online

Share of Volumes by Payments Instrument


  • Paper-based payments
  • Electronic payments
  • Real-time payments


Spend (USD)



Real-Time Payments Volume and Its Share in Overall Non-Paper-Based Transactions, 2015-26f

% of total electronic payments transaction volume

Trends + Data

Cloud Management Platform


Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)


Hybrid Cloud


Managed Cloud Service

  • Current priority
  • Planned

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Private Cloud

Software as a Service (SaaS)


Nigeria is an emerging market, the world’s 29th largest economy and the biggest on the African continent (Cebr World Economic League Table, 2022).

Due to its mature real-time payments market but paper-dominated payments mix, Nigeria’s economy already benefits from substantial net savings facilitated by real-time payments, while also having a significant potential for further growth. In 2021, the use of real-time payments resulted in $296 million in efficiency savings for consumers and businesses. These gains contributed to real-time payments, facilitating 0.67 % of Nigerian GDP or $3.2 billion of financial output in the same year.

In terms of overall macroeconomic gains, the largest contributing factor in 2021 was the shadow economy formalization through real-time payments. In Nigeria, the size of the shadow economy was estimated to be 47% of formal GDP in 2021, equivalent to approximately $228 billion of informal economic output. In the absence of real-time payments, Nigeria’s shadow economy would have been 1.4% larger. Hence, real-time payments were responsible for formalizing $3.1 billion of economic output in that year.

Business and consumer benefits are expected to reach $2.3 billion by 2026, as paper-based payments continue to be displaced by real-time payments volume (which is forecasted to grow to 27.2% of the payments mix). The economy wide impacts are also expected to grow, with 1.01 % of Nigerian GDP supported by real-time in 2026, equivalent to $6 billion of economic output, or that supported by 668,734 workers.

For Businesses and Consumers



Net savings stimulated by real-time payments



Projected net savings stimulated by real-time payments

GDP Growth



of economic output



of GDP facilitated by real-time payments



Projected of economic output



of GDP facilitated by real-time payments


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