South African mobile payments startup iKhokha and Mastercard aims to significantly boost payment card acceptance at micro, small and medium enterprises in informal settlements. By Staff Writer
In the next six months, iKhokha aims to roll out 700 mobile point of sale terminals to cash-based micro-enterprises including spaza shops, taverns, food outlets, and hair and beauty salons in KwaMashu, north of Durban and in Ladybrand in the eastern Free State.
This pilot project will act as a blueprint for the direct expansion into other informal settlements nationally.
iKhokha managing director Matt Putman says card acceptance can help small business owners to formalise their businesses, increase sales and minimise their risks.
“We are focusing on businesses at the main trade and transit points where volumes of people are high and cash-related crime is a serious problem. We explain to entrepreneurs that they can grow their sales with iKhokha and then gain access to unsecured capital for growth needs. If customers would prefer to pay with a card, then it’s time to move beyond cash only acceptance.”
Recent iKhokha research reveals that low-income earners who are banked, generally withdraw their entire monthly income from an ATM, and then carry cash for the month as a result of very limited card acceptance in informal settlements.
The World Bank states that micro entrepreneurs need support in basic accounting, record keeping and planning to grow sustainably and that increasing financial inclusion must be done responsibly.
iKhokha presently has more than 3000 merchants. Its mobile payment acceptance platform includes card present payments and card-linked QR code payments via Masterpass, Mastercard’s digital payment service.
iKhokha also recently won the MTN Enterprise App of the year award. The company has been funded by Capital Eye Investments, a Gauteng based private equity investor with a key focus on payment technology.