Ever wondered how you can easily make person-to-person payments via cellphone? Wonder no more. South Africa has just got its own version of Venmo.

Venmo is one of the United States’s most successful payment platforms. Owned by PayPal, it processes about $25 billion (R356bn) in person-to-person payments annually. 

The Slide app, founded by three young South Africans who recently returned from living in the US, has been developed to change the way South Africans pay each other.

Co-founder Irshad Kathrada says: “In the US, we witnessed the huge growth in payment methods and how easy it was to pay people. So we developed Slide, a safe, simple and free way of sending money from one person to another using a mobile phone. Making a payment is as easy as sending a message. It saves you having to carry cash or knowing someone’s bank account details. 

“It also doesn’t matter which bank or mobile network operator the sender or receiver uses. Slide is ideal for parents sending money to their children and for sharing costs like rent, concert tickets or a restaurant bill. A worker who wants to send money to his family within South Africa can now do it at no cost.”

Another benefit is that Slide is social: it looks like a WhatsApp or Facebook message when you use it.

To get the app, search for Slide Financial in the Google Play or Apple Store and complete the sign-up form. Slide will link with your contacts so you can choose whom to pay, or add a new contact with a cellphone number or email address. Then add how much you want to pay, personalise your payment with a message, and authorise and send the money by selecting the bank you use.

Payments are funded using EFT secure technology directly from the sender’s bank account.

The recipient will be notified by SMS and email and prompted to download the app. The money can be cashed out at any time into his or her bank account with one click. The money typically appears the next business day, irrespective of the bank. The sender will receive a confirmation that the funds have been received.

Kathrada says: “As Slide is a social payment mechanism, payments between contacts are as easy as sending a message.”

Person-to-person payments are a large part of the South African economy, with consumers seeking more convenient and cost-effective ways to do this.

Kathrada says: “Standard payments are often expensive and inconvenient, while cash is unsafe, and not everyone has easy access to an ATM. This opened up the opportunity for Slide. Mobile-phone penetration is growing quickly across South Africa. Lowering the barriers to sending and receiving money can have a material impact on financial cohesion across the country.”

When asked about the origin of Slide, Kathrada described the day earlier this year when he found himself having to pay co-founder Alon Stern for picking up lunch, but didn’t have cash on him. “It was in that moment that we realised how necessary a payment platform like Venmo is to ensure that money flows around the South African economy simply and securely.

“We researched the market and reviewed payments apps that have worked in South Africa and those that have failed. Those fintech businesses that failed tried to enter the person-to-person payments market wanting to pass the costs on to the sender and/or receiver, and in some cases restricted use to certain mobile or bank networks, which limits who you can send money to or receive from. We used this information to develop an enhanced solution.”

Payments into the Slide network use the same security protocols as internet banking. 

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