uKheshe enables consumers to make and receive payments by using a Quick Response (QR) code card and a smartphone on which the app is installed. Photo: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

CAPE TOWN – uKheshe has further enhanced its offering to the unbanked by collaborating with Mastercard to enable informal traders, street vendors and casual labourers to accept digital payments through Masterpass, Mastercard’s digital payment service.

The domestically developed financial inclusion platform said in a statement on Monday that by combining their expertise and reach, the companies intended to boost financial inclusion, targeting the more than 11 million South Africans who are underbanked or unbanked and remain stuck in a cash economy.

Launched in November 2018 and backed by banking payments partner Nedbank, uKheshe enables consumers to make and receive payments by using a Quick Response (QR) code card and a smartphone on which the app is installed. No bank account is required and the uKheshe wallet grows as people pay into it.

To receive payments, their customers simply scan the QR code with any Masterpass-enabled app – including SnapScan and Zapper – and money is immediately transferred to their ewallets.

The co-founder of uKheshe, Clayton Hayward, said the partnership with Mastercard enhanced their offering, but most importantly, it assisted in addressing the growing challenge of South Africa’s unbanked. 

“We designed uKheshe to provide the safest and most affordable way for these informal merchants and workers to accept digital payments from South Africans who are increasingly embracing cashless payments. The collaboration between our brands will continue to make a significant difference to micro-enterprises, enabling them to boost their incomes by reaching new customers,” said Hayward.

All major banks in South Africa offer Masterpass, which enables customers to load any bank card into a secure digital wallet on their smartphone. Once loaded, these cards and the secure credentials associated with them are safely stored, enabling the customer to start transacting immediately without the hassle of entering these details each time they make a purchase.

Division president at Mastercard Southern Africa Mark Elliott said: “We've all been there where you'd like to tip your car guard or buy a newspaper from a street vendor, but you don't have coins or any cash to do so. 

“Through our partnership with uKheshe, we are making it easy for Masterpass users to pay anyone, from anywhere in a matter of seconds with the device in their pockets – the mobile phone. For the informal merchants and traders, we are able helping to connect them to the formal economy and build better futures.” 

For small business owners and traders, Masterpass provides a more affordable alternative to traditional Point of Sale devices, allowing them to offer a convenient digital payment option to their customers – the majority of whom are banked and are ready to use mobile payments.