FNB said it had partnered with Selpal, a fintech company that operates in townships, to boost the financial inclusion of the informal economy. Photo: Bloomberg

JOHANNESBURG – FNB said on Monday that it had partnered with Selpal, a South African fintech company that operates specifically in townships, to boost the financial inclusion of the informal economy. 

Selpal is a technology start-up that has developed an integrated system connecting informal retailers such as spaza shops (community grocers) with fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) suppliers, wholesalers and brands.

The user-centric platform was designed and built using direct observations, engagements and understanding of the pain-points that various users experience along the entire FMCG value chain in the informal sector, from manufacturer to consumer. With 50 percent of South Africa's urban population living in townships, the ecosystem supporting these communities warrants significantly greater focus from the banking sector, FNB Business chief executive Michael Vacy-Lyle said. 

“We refer to this opportunity as the 'unseen economy' – the opportunity space that most call the informal sector or the township economy,” Vacy-Lyle said. 

“These businesses range from survivalist businesses to often highly organised and sizeable SME (small and medium enterprise) operations. At FNB Business we are of the view that this business segment of the South African economy has been ignored for far too long.” Statistics show that there are around 30 to 40 businesses per 1 000 people in townships.

FNB estimates that this translates into around 800 000 to one million businesses which are under-serviced from a banking perspective, mainly due to cash being the predominate form of payment for them.

“Access to financial services is critical for the growth of any economy, and these businesses should be included into the financial system. Transactional banking, investing, lending and insurance opportunities exist in this unseen space” said Vacy-Lyle.

Selpal chief executive and co-founder Stephen Goldberg said the company, using proprietary hardware and software, created a network of partner store traders which it equipped with point-of-sale devices allowing them to view, order, pay for and sell stock and value added services without the store-owners needing to leave their shop.

African News Agency (ANA)