Google Unveils Tez, A Payment Platform Exclusively For India


Google has launched a new digital payment app named Google Tez for the Indian market. The app supports English and seven Indian languages including Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu. It is available for both Android and iOS platforms.

Google Tez links user’s bank account to Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay. You can use to perform transactions including money transfers, receive payments and pay for purchases.

Google revealed that Tez was made for India due to its growing tech hub.

The banks that Tez supports include Axis, HDFC Bank, ICICI and State Bank of India and others that support UPI. Online payment partners include large food chains like Dominos, transport services like RedBus, and Jet Airways according to the information on the website.

It is noteworthy to add that Tez is not a mobile wallet where users can store money in the app. It needs to be topped up to be used.

This launch will put Tex in direct competition with Paytm, India’s largest mobile wallet company. It launched 7 years ago and has Alibaba and Softbank has invested in the business.

Meanwhile, Google plans to introduce a mobile wallet option in the next year.


UCOOK Partners With WeChat To Bring Mobile Payments To Users


South African food delivery startup UCOOK, a fast-growing e-food delivery service in Cape Town that provides fresh, gourmet food kits directly to a user’s door, has partnered messaging app WeChat to allow users to order food from UCOOK and make payments using WeChat.

This partnership is facilitated by WeChat wallet. The Wallet allows WeChat users a variety of safe and secure transactions or purchases using their mobile phones.

Customers can top up their wallets with cash. With this cash, new and existing UCOOK customers buying through the UCOOK official account on WeChat can pay for their order and will also receive 50 percent off their first box.

Since 2016, WeChat has worked with various South African companies, such as OrderIn, picup and FitKey, and also launched a fund for African tech startups.

Fenix raises over $4m from MTN, Swedish Embassy & USAID to launch pay-to-own solar home systems in Zambia


Fenix International, a venture-backed pay-to-own home solar system technology and and financial services firm has raised funds from MTN, the Swedish Embassy in Zambia and USAID to launch pay-to-own solar home systems in Zambia.

The funding together with MTN’s distribution networks will help the firm reach unbanked and off-grid customers then later connect them to smart phones, financial services among others.

According to Lyndsay Handler, CEO of Fenix International, “Over 90 per cent of rural Zambians lack access to electricity and have no options other than dangerous candles and kerosene lanterns to light their homes. This is the harsh reality of the situation which we are working to change. Our solar home systems not only provide light and energy, but our unique Fenix credit score makes upgrades and additional life-changing products accessible to committed customers as their needs and incomes grow. Ten years from now, we hope to eliminate the use of candles and be an important part of our customers’ lives across Zambia.”

Though the amount MTN is committing has not been made public but might be in millions of dollars if its distribution network is valued. The Swedish Embassy is committing nearly $3m (SEK 24,750,000) to Fenix in Zambia between now and 2020 while USAID will contribute an additional $750,000 Fenix.

The launch in Zambia represents the first step in Fenix’s expansion across Africa with their flagship product, ReadyPay Power, which provides off-grid customers access to ultra-affordable solar power and already popular in Uganda. Approximately 15 million Zambians live without access to the electrical grid, representing 80 per cent of the total population and 95 percent of rural residents. Fenix will extend its own proven model for making solar power accessible and affordable, which has doubled the company’s Ugandan customer base in just 12 months. With backing from the Swedish Embassy and USAID, Fenix expects to reach 850,000 rural Zambians by 2020.

ReadyPay Power is an expandable solar home system designed to provide power to households and small businesses that the grid has failed to reach. Customers make instalments of as little as $0.20 per day via MTN Mobile Money until they have paid in full. Fenix uses these continuous micro-payments to generate a credit score, enabling customers to access additional system upgrades or financial services.

“The transformative relationship between MTN Mobile Money and off-grid energy has been an exceptional revelation. MTN Mobile Money now sits at the heart of many households, who use these simple and secure services daily to light up their lives. For us, this is all part of the mission to create mobile solutions which make a difference,” said Wane Ngambi, Head of Mobile Financial Services, MTN Zambia.

Funding from the Embassy of Sweden in Lusaka is provided as part of the Power Africa: Beyond the Grid Fund Zambia (BGFZ) initiative. This is managed by REEEP (the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership). BGFZ aims to bring basic clean energy access to 1 million Zambians and accelerate private sector growth in clean energy generation and distribution in the country. USAID’s additional $750,000 support is provided as part of its Scaling Off-Grid Energy: Grand Challenge for Development, which aims to create up to 20 million new connections in off-grid communities across Africa.



DTB, Kopo Kopo & Mastercard are slowly killing Lipa Na M-Pesa with Masterpass QR App


Diamond Trust Bank Kenya (DTB) has partnered Mastercard to roll-out the DTB Masterpass QR app in Kenya, a mobile payment solution that will enable millions of businesses to accept fast and secure digital payments from consumers just months after Kopo Kopo announced a similar deal.

Mastercard aims to impact over 250,000 micro, small and medium enterprises across eleven markets in Sub-Saharan Africa over the next five years. Kopo Kopo will be working with DTB to ensure the solution reaches their full network, meeting the needs of merchants working across various sectors in the country.

Unlike Lipa Na M-Pesa, Masterpass QR allows customers to just scan and pay instantly as if they had their credit or debit cards. The firms are signing up merchants for acceptance then focus on getting as many consumers as possible to fight cash, slow Lipa Na M-Pesa and cards. Masterpass QR enables them to accept digital payments anywhere, anytime.

Users of the DTB mobile banking platform will be able to safely pay for in-store purchases by scanning a Quick Response (QR) code displayed at checkout on their smartphones, or by entering a merchant identifier into their feature phones. Consumers don’t need to carry cash or their physical bank cards – rather they can pay immediately using the DTB Masterpass QR app on their mobile device anywhere that Masterpass QR is accepted.

Currently Masterpass QR is being introduced at key Kopo Kopo merchants in Nairobi, but there are plans to ensure the solution is accessible across the country. Additionally, the interoperable solution can be used in markets outside of Kenya, and Mastercard has started to introduce the solution in multiple markets across the continent.

“The mobile solution will not only eliminate the merchants’ reliance on costly point of sale devices, it will also remove the dangers and logistical issues of handling cash on daily sales. Kenyan merchants who previously didn’t have access to electronic payment tools can now be financially included ensuring they are able to track and monitor the businesses cash flow immediately,” says Nasim Devji, Group CEO and Managing Director at DTB.

Devji adds that DTB customers will be able to use their mobile banking app to access Masterpass QR, and conduct their day-to-day banking needs directly on their device.

The roll-out of the solution forms an important part of the Mastercard commitment to impact over 150,000 MSMEs in Kenya this year and additionally supports the company’s global goal of connecting 40 million micro and small merchants to the formal financial economy, helping them to move beyond cash by the end of 2020.

“We’re passionate about giving small businesses the tools they need to grow and prosper, and we see the mobile device as a way to financially enable millions of merchants in Africa. The use of mobile solutions is not expected to decline in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially if you consider that by 2022 there will be over 1 billion mobile subscribers in the region according to recent research,” said Ken Kinyua, CEO of Kopo Kopo.