Afri Ride has announced plans to launch a mobile payment system that will enable the unbanked to be able to conduct cashless transactions.

The app will likely be launched in September 2020, starting in South Africa and then expanding  into the SADC region, starting with Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia, says Afri Ride CEO Joe Moyo.

Currently the app is in the testing phase, and the company has been building awareness before the launch, he says. Afri Ride already has an app that it says “connects the entire African transport ecosystem on a single, safe and convenient platform, with tailor-made solutions for the fast growing African traveling community.”

The African banking challenge

In terms of access to financial facilities in Africa, Moyo says to date, going cashless was not an option for many South Africans, citing a 2018 Mastercard study that found that 90% of all informal businesses in South Africa that service the lower-income group are completely dependent on cash for their daily transactions.

The same study notes that 30% of South Africans do not have a bank account and entirely excluded from basic financial tools.  While he did not provide statistics for the situation in the African continent, the assumption was that a similar situation would also prevail.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has emphasised the need for a cashless society as handling notes and coins by hand has become a health risk for many, he adds.

The value proposition

According to Moyo, one of the major benefits of the app is that it acts as a “formal platform for people to do financial transactions” for people that aren’t banked not just the underbanked – you don’t need a bank account to open an aWallet account and conduct financial transfers. The aWallet also provides users with basic financial tools to gain better control over their wealth,” he says.

Moyo acknowledges that Africa already has thriving mobile payment apps on the market. “Some of the key features that will differentiate the aWallet from others is the ability to conduct a credit check, apply for a debit card, make cross border payments to a select number of African countries, donate to a list of charities and buy their bus ticket - all via the app,” he says.

Also, where most banks require clients to visit a branch or ATM for certain transactions, with the aWallet, every spaza shop or kiosk will becomes a potential branch. Moyo says by partnering with these vendors, they become “agents” for the aWallet where money can be withdrawn as they already have the needed infrastructure to handle transactions.

Another feature that differentiates the aWallet from other mobile/digital payment platforms is the rollout of digital agents. “Our digital branches will make it easy for people to understand this technology and to understand the value that our product brings to them.”

He says failure to provide user education so people are comfortable with the technology is not an option for Afri Ride. “Even now I dread using PayPal because of lack of information on how to use it. We are not there to cater for the privileged within the urban metropolitan areas, but to act as a last-mile banking kind of setup for those that truly need it - all of our products are tailor-made for the local market,” he says.

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