South Africa lacks the technical skills that fintech companies need to develop new solutions, ensure ongoing innovation and expand their businesses.

JOHANNESBURG  - South Africa lacks the technical skills that fintech companies need to develop new solutions, ensure ongoing innovation and expand their businesses, Durban firm said on Wednesday.

Based in Umhlanga and one of the country's fastest growing fintech companies, iKhokha said it was battling to attract talent to support its growth.

"Disruptive digital and e-commerce businesses, from scale-ups through to big giants like Amazon or Google, are growing at such unprecedented rates that the gap between the staff they need and the talent available in the marketplace is widening," iKhokha CEO Matt Putman said after returning from Paris where he attended Unleash World, the world’s top human resources tech event. "This is particularly true in South Africa."

He said to challenge entrenched market players, digital businesses need to innovate, but at times battled to find the technical expertise to do so.

"It’s ironic that in South Africa, with a 29 percent rate of unemployment, the situation is even more challenging. Not only does the number of jobs far outweigh the number of skilled applicants, but because we are behind first-world countries when it comes to digital proficiency, so is our talent pool," he said.

"Candidates often lack the technical know-how and experience required to develop globally competitive solutions. We have to adopt a new mindset when thinking about education and learning in this new digital world. Continuous self-learning through multiple mediums is being driven internationally."

iKhokha, which helps small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa process card and digital payments, has quickly grown from a small team to more than 100 staff members.

But to support its growth, Putman said the company needed to grow its staff complement by 50 percent in the next year.

"Our Umhlanga based business in Durban needs top calibre people, but the best talent is in high demand and we are competing for placements with other growing digital companies in South Africa and other countries," he added.

Putman said iKhokha was signing up thousands of new businesses every month and providing millions a month in finance to SMEs via its merchant cash advance offering.

Transactions had grown by more than 200 percent this year alone, and the company was processing billions of rand in annualised card volume.

"We have scaled significantly as a business and now we need experienced people to match the pace of our expansion,” Putman said.

- African News Agency (ANA)