JOHANNESBURG - Seasoned banking and payments technologist Tamsanqa Ngalo has come up with a groundbreaking credit card facility aimed at making the exclusive private healthcare more accessible for everyone.
Ngalo is founder and chief executive of health tech Oyi Tech, which he established in Roodepoort west of Johannesburg in 2017.
It’s aimed at giving over 12 million low-income earners, who do not have a medical aid and are incidentally excluded from the private healthcare industry, wider access to private healthcare through a medical expense credit card.
Funds in the Oyi Medical Card, a first of its kind in South Africa, are ring-fenced for medical costs.
“The Oyi Medical Card is essentially a credit card for day to day medical expenses. In this respect, the main challenge that our people face is the shortage of cash to carry the expenses associated with day to day medical events which tend to happen at the odd time of the month,” says Ngalo, who holds a master’s degree in information technology from the University of Liverpool in the UK.
“For example, when a child gets ill randomly during the month, that's a cry that is very hard for one to ignore or defer to payday. We issue our clients with the Oyi Medical Card with a preset spend limit which they can then utilise at any healthcare provider of their choice.”
Oyi Medical Card comes in two plan options: a Blue with a spend limit of R750 and Bronze with a limit of R1 500.
The part-time MBA student describes Oyi Medical Card as an innovative product that aims to solve a social challenge.
“It has the potential to disrupt the industry by addressing a market which we believe is largely neglected and underserved,” says Ngalo, who spent almost two years in the UK working for Net1’s UK division for international expansion.
He decided to venture into entrepreneurship during his stay in the European country when his wife was diagnosed with cancer.
“She received state-of-the-art treatment under the NHS (National Health Service) and all free of charge. The NHS is a universal health insurance system similar to the NHI (National Health Insurance) that our government is planning to roll out,” explains Ngalo, who spent over two decades of his career designing and building complex payment solutions for banks and payment providers around the world.
“The trigger for me was how well this NHS system was working on such a complex and extremely expensive treatment and I thought how our people in SA have to queue from 4am just to get a simple cough mixture or to obtain basic medical treatment. Luckily my wife completed the treatment and she is okay now.”
Ngalo says Oyi, which is registered with the National Credit Regulator as a credit provider and is a member of the South African Credit & Risk Reporting Association, was born out of this experience to fill the glaring gap between the haves who get the best care and the have-nots with limited options.
He says the market likes their offering. “The user experience is simple, customer queries are low and our retention rates suggest that we are on to something.”
The unassuming entrepreneur stresses that until now, the small businesses, lower tier and entry-level employees who account for well over 70 percent of the market did not really have a product that speaks to their pocket and that is where Oyi comes in.
“The market potential in South Africa is around 12 million and we will be comfortable with two to three percent of that in five years. However, the problem we are trying to solve is common to many markets outside South Africa. We should be in a position to start looking at outside territories in a few years’ time,” says Ngalo, who has been to South Korea, Nigeria, France, Lesotho, Mozambique, Uruguay, Mexico, US, Hong Kong, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Germany, Zimbabwe, Switzerland, Namibia, Botswana, India, Dubai and Spain.
“Each one of these places has contributed something in developing me as a person and in the formation of Oyi.”
Ngalo says they support the initiatives by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi around the NHI as Oyi’s mission is to achieve equal access to quality healthcare.
“The NHI speaks directly to that,” he says, adding: “It does not make sense for people to share a bed in Tembisa Hospital when a bed in Carstenhof Hospital is gathering dust.”
- BUSINESS REPORT