Mark Dankworth executive director of Ukheshe Africa

Micro-payment platform Ukheshe, has announced the appointment of Mark Dankworth as executive director of Ukheshe Africa. This comes at a time he need for a cashless society is a rising trend and strategic global imperative. Ukheshe Africa will not only look to increase its user base but will also be identifying new business-to-business opportunities for the platform across the continent.

According to Global Findex, 1,7 billion adults remain unbanked. Sub-Saharan Africa, with approximately 350 million unbanked, accounts for 17 percent of the global total according to the same report. Dankworth says that since its inception in November 2018, Ukheshe has established that financial inclusion is vital for the overall growth and prosperity of the continent: “If the unbanked continue to have limited access to proper financial solutions, they remain barred from the majority of the continent’s economic activities. This, in turn, results in a reliance on limited retail opportunities, inability to access credit, and thus often paying more for goods and services.​”

Dankworth says that since his entrance into the payments sector in 2004, true financial inclusion is undoubtedly the most important: “Being able to truly bank the unbanked is by far the greatest challenge as well as a significant accomplishment. In my experience, several businesses have attempted to achieve this, but fail, and in the end, they cater for the same customer base that has previously been banked. What excites me about Ukheshe is that it has been built to address the smaller merchants and people who previously did not have access to affordable banking services.”

Dankworth says that partnerships in Africa will play a key role and the company will look to establish relationships with key players in the various markets. Enabling Ukheshe to date has been its strong alliances with Mastercard and Nedbank. Dankworth says the Africa expansion will offer both these companies significant growth opportunities.

While Ukheshe has focused on South Africa, Dankworth says that there are already opportunities underway for the micro-payment platform in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Nigeria, Malawi, Botswana and Angola. An industry veteran, Dankworth launched a Kenyan card business in 2013 and says that the payments industry has always excited him: “I saw how M-Pesa changed many lives in Kenya, and as a fully interoperable wallet solution, Ukheshe will undoubtedly change the lives of so many across the continent.”

Clayton Hayward, co-founder of Ukheshe, says that Africa represents immense opportunity, as well as significant challenges to address the legacy of an unbanked society: “We recognise that through our platform, we can assist in addressing social equality and boosting the growth of the lower- and middle-class brackets.  We also know that we can, more importantly, play a vital role in the upliftment and improvement of the societies we work in.”

He says Dankworth is ideally suited to launch and grow Ukheshe Africa and looks forward to assisting in the success of the new entity.

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