Standard Bank has launched SimplyBlu, a digital solution powered by Mastercard that allows South African small businesses to enter the world of electronic trading. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)

DURBAN - Standard Bank has launched SimplyBlu, a digital solution powered by Mastercard that allows South African small businesses to enter the world of electronic trading.

One of the biggest barriers for small businesses wanting to trade their products online is the cost of setting up an online trading platform. Design costs, security and financial compliance as well as an integrated invoicing and accounting platform often adds up once all the design and financial specialist have created an online trading platform.  

The SimplyBlu solution is a simple, secure and feature-rich platform that makes it easier for businesses to accept electronic payments regardless of payment brand. It is the first service of its type to be offered to small businesses by a financial institution in South Africa. 

The solution enables businesses to begin trading on the Internet for a R500 once-off set up fee. After that, a monthly subscription fee of R575 is payable as well as regular card transaction fees for merchants, according to Lincoln Mali, Head of Card and Emerging Payments at Standard Bank.

Mali said, "Being able to sell online has become a necessity in the modern retail trade. However, the transition from traditional business to e-commerce, digital platforms has, until now, been a process that has proved to be a step too far for small business.  With many operators not having the knowledge, access to technology or resources needed to build digital trading sites, many business owners have been unable to take their businesses to the next level. Digital trading and vastly increased customer bases, as well as organic business growth, has been beyond their grasp". 

Standard Bank has identified several friction points that were hampering customers. By leveraging its strategic partnership with Mastercard, the bank was able to address problems that have been difficult for small businesses to solve.  

Mark Elliott, division president for Mastercard Southern Africa said, "Mastercard is excited to partner with Standard Bank to make it simple for SMEs to sell online, accept electronic payments and grow their businesses". 

"The launching of the SimplyBlu solution offers local business owners a comprehensive digital service.  It enables merchants to build their own webstores with drag- and- drop functionality and built- in templates, have a unique webstore address and have the site hosted. It is intuitive and requires no specialised IT knowledge and is a one-stop service to customers. The account is opened online and has no restrictions regarding the number of services or products that can be offered online to potential customers," said Mali.

He added that customers could be retail operators or merchants offering services ranging from home maintenance to professional services. 

SimplyBlu automatically enables users to:  

1. Accept domestic and international credit, debit and prepaid cards from Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, JCB and Diners Club by integrating access to a payment gateway and the bank for webstore payment processing.

2. Accept digital payments through Masterpass, Mastercard’s digital payment service.

3. Take advantage of same-day settlement, into a Standard Bank account. This settlement process solves the problems associated with cash flow that often cripple small businesses.

5. Accept secure payments 24/7, anywhere and everywhere.

6. Use customisable eInvoicing and eReceipting to send electronic invoices and receipts to customers when orders are placed.

7. Manage risk with fraud control tools. 

8. Use the SimplyBlu app to view and manage your online store, issue eInvoices, and monitor fraud ‘on the go’ on either iOS or Android devices.

9. Use shopping cart plugins for all major shopping carts including Shopify and Magneto.

The SimplyBlu solution makes the digital process seamless by providing a secure portal for merchants wishing to set up their online stores and billing facilities. 

"The monitoring process begins with the on-boarding of customers on the SimplyBlu platform and continues across to the live trading situations. Standard Bank, as it carries the regulatory risk, which is part of the SimplyBlu solution, must ensure that sites operate within legal guidelines and offers an ethical service.  We, therefore, reserve the right to close a site if transgressions occur," said Mali.

“The major benefit for customers is that because their businesses are ‘linked’ with SimplyBlu, they can run their businesses knowing that the systems and payment mechanisms are secure. 

SimplyBlu is only available to merchants in South Africa at present.