Ukheshe, a SMME focused digital banking platform, has launched a Track and Trace service using its existing payment ecosystem to assist consumers to manage any possible risk factors in level three lockdown.
Ukeshe’s CEO and co-founder, Clayton Hayward says that Covid-19 is a concern for all citizens and in addition to making the platform free for grant disbursements, Ukheshe wanted to assist in other ways: “We created a track and trace solution to assist consumers to keep updated on infection rates and if they have been compromised.”
As a registered user, by simply checking-in, using the Ukheshe app or via Whatsapp at any business displaying the company’s Masterpass QR code, you will be updated on any Covid-19 infections. For new users without a smartphone, Ukheshe can be accessed by using a USSD code.
“If any infections are reported, the track and trace solution will enable the relevant venue to immediately contact anyone that has visited the location: “Our payment platform is a perfect solution to keep consumers updated and to help fight to flatten the curve,” says Hayward.
With this initial funding, Hayward says that the next funding round for uKheshe will be series A, but the timing of this investment is yet to be determined.
The platform allows users to pay and get paid by scanning a QR code to send or receive money to the cardholder from anywhere at any time. The cardholder can then draw cash or check balances. Users can also withdraw money at Pick n Pay stores nationwide or pay for goods directly via USSD or the app.
uKheshe card holders do not need a bank account as once one activates their uKheshe QR code with their cell phone number, they are ready to accept payments and pay for goods. uKheshe QR cards are free and can be ordered online for users to distribute to those who need help. Users can even hand out prepaid uKheshe cards.
The uKheshe Card features a QR code that is linked to the user’s cell phone number and will enable them to receive payments from anyone scanning the code with the uKheshe app. The owner of an uKheshe QR card does not need a smartphone or a bank account. All they do is dial 12082274# and follow the USSD prompts to view their balance or withdraw the money. Money can be withdrawn at Pick n Pay till points nationwide.
The uKheshe Life Benefits card also let’s users access health and accidental insurance cover. Recently, the firm launched the uKheshe API to allow organisations to incorporate uKheshe into POS and eCommerce applications.
Seed investor, Chris Lister-James from Fitech Ventures says that while it is difficult to accurately value early-stage fintechs, uKheshe’s current trajectory has justified the initial valuation of R100m: “The market opportunity is enormous and we are excited about our investment and the role we will play in providing sustainable financial services. Having invested in several early-stage fintech start-ups, we have some great complementary companies and look forward to playing both a financial and strategic role in the growth of uKheshe.”
According to Lister-James, while most countries in Africa remain largely cash-based, with majority low-income earners, who are wary of banking fees and distrust financial service providers, there is immense opportunity: “The significant cell phone penetration enables fintechs, such as uKheshe, to develop convenient, cost-effective, digital financial services solutions that can circumvent the existing financial services providers. We view this disruption as not only positive, but necessary.”
Lister-James says that the uKheshe investment will typically extend between three to five years, which given the nature of the rapidly changing environment, is a realistic timeframe.