Lipa Payments, a South African-based fintech start-up, is bringing the “Tap to Pay” experience to Africa’s informal sectors with its software solution that enables merchants to accept contactless payments directly from a mobile phone.
With approximately $650 000 in equity investments raised in 2020 from South Africa’s Imvelo Ventures, which is backed by the Empowerment Capital Investment Partners, Lipa Payments is set to roll-out its digital payment solution in Nigeria and South Africa and will work with banks and fintechs to enable affordable, accessible and fast payments for merchants, even to low-end mobile phones.
According to Roger Bukuru, Co-founder and Co-CEO of Lipa Payments, “Merchants run the risk of running out of cash during business hours and there are security risks when managing cash. The Lipa Payments solution improves the experience for informal traders by moving their businesses forward with digital payments. It opens a whole new world of possibilities for these merchants and their cash-carrying customers.”
Launched in 2019 by Roger Bukuru and Thando Hlongwane, Lipa Payments was borne out of a desire to solve the problem of informal areas not having access to adequate and safe payment systems in a digital age. With Lipa’s technology, informal merchants can accept and make payments using just a low-end smartphone, even if those mobile phones don’t have near-field capabilities or internet access at the time of a transaction.
Whether a merchant is selling goods and services from a taxi rank or a dirt road in a rural village, with Lipa’s digital solution they can use low-end smartphones to accept either phone-to-phone payments (using Bluetooth technology) or accept a bank-card payment directly on their smartphone (using NFC technology).
All smartphones have access to Bluetooth, so banks and fintechs that use the Lipa digital solutions can offer consumers contactless phone-to-phone payments without merchants having to purchase Point-of-Sale (POS) devices.
“We have moved into a digital economy. Gone are the days of needing to distribute Point-of-Sale (POS) machines into areas that can be expensive and remote to get to. We have moved the buy-and-sell ecosystem into the hands of the people who are trading within that ecosystem, the merchants and their customers,” adds Thando Hlongwane, co-founder and joint-CEO Thando Hlongwane.
Both Bukuru and Hlongwane studied computer science at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and are no strangers to the world of technological innovation and have been honing their entrepreneurial skills since high school. Hlongwane and Bukuru share a passion for statistics and data and started coding when they were in high school. While studying at UCT they built an edtech platform, which housed 3000 university developers where they trained them in the latest technologies.