14 February 2023

What is PayShap / the Rapid Payments Program (RPP) in South Africa?

Stitch Head of Product Partnerships Neha Kumar shares more about the upcoming launch of PayShap and how Stitch clients will be able to access the solution through their existing integration.

Neha Kumar, Head of Product Partnerships

|3 Minutes, 51 Seconds read

Updated March 17th, 2023 to reflect PayShap launch.


There’s been a lot of excitement around PayShap – or, the Rapid Payments Program – in South Africa, which officially launched on March 13th. We’ve had questions from a lot of clients interested in learning more about how this will work, and how Stitch can help them leverage PayShap.

The Rapid Payments Programme (RPP), now called PayShap, is South Africa’s “first instant interbank digital payment offering for low-value payments.”    

What is the Rapid Payments Programme (RPP) and where did it originate?

The program was developed as part of South African Reserve Bank’s (SARB) Vision 2025, which aims to modernise payment systems in the market, with a goal of reducing the number of unbanked South Africans. According to the team at Electrum, the Vision 2025 goals “focus on developing payment systems that are transparent, secure, easy-to-use, financially inclusive, and flexible, so as to make it easier for more of the population to enter the digital economy.”

RPP aims to achieve this by making it easier and more cost-effective for South Africans to send real-time payments. Rapid Payments is an alternative to cash, offering South Africans the ability to pay without knowing the recipient’s banking details. Payments will be made to a bank account or a proxy (such as a mobile phone number) that has been linked to an account or wallet at any bank. Payments can be made from a mobile phone at a low fee to the consumer, in real time and available 24/7.

How does PayShap work?

RPP, or PayShap, is an instant account-based payment, similar to Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) and Real-Time Clearing (RTC). Read more about the difference between Instant EFT, RTC and other bank transfer methods here. Payments are initiated by the payee and processed through the central clearing house, BankservAfrica. These payments clear faster than existing account-based schemes and are designed to take less than ten seconds to complete.

Rapid Payments is comprised of three parts that work together:

  • Instant payments 
  • Proxy
  • Request-to-pay 

Source: Rapid Payments Programme

BankservAfrica CEO Jan Pilbauer said, “if I want to send you money, you’ll just have to know my cellphone number, or another alias. Within 10 seconds, the money will be in your store of value and you will be able to use it right away.”

The program is geared toward low-value payments, with deposits coming through PayShap initially capped at R3,000.

What are the benefits of PayShap / the Rapid Payments Programme?

PayShap can be compared to Pix, the instant payments platform developed by Brazil’s Central Bank, which launched in 2020 and has had a marked impact on financial inclusion and the growth of e-commerce in the region. Today, Pix has “reached a penetration rate higher than that of credit cards. Data shows that 110 million people, more than half the Brazilian population, have already made a PIX transaction.”

BankservAfrica hopes that PayShap could similarly boost digital payments in South Africa and “begin to displace cash from the economy – astonishingly, despite the country’s sophisticated banking sector, almost nine in 10 transactions are still cash-based.”

Which banks are participating?

12 banks have shown commitment to PayShap.

The first cohort live now consists of four banks – Absa, Nedbank, FNB, and Standard Bank – with more intending to go live later this year.

When will rollout take place?

PayShap launched with four initial pilot banks on March 13th, 2023. This launch included phase one, which includes only peer-to-peer transfers. Further updates, including the ability for businesses to accept payments via PayShap through platforms like Stitch will be rolled out over the coming months.

How can businesses use PayShap and benefit from it?

While structured around the user experience and enabling customers to make easier payments, PayShap will also benefit businesses and help them streamline payments processes. Some of the ways businesses can use PayShap include:

  • Recurring payments for subscription-based business models
  • Real-time payments to employees and suppliers 
  • Ability to receive real-time payments for online purchases by customers

How can I offer access to PayShap for my customers?

We’ve got you covered. Once launched and fully available, any Stitch clients will be able to make payments via PayShap through their existing Stitch integration. No additional deep development work will be necessary, and you won’t need to develop individual bank integrations.

Join our mailing list to stay up to date on the latest updates about PayShap, and when you’ll be able to access the program through your Stitch integration. 

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