From looking at innovation differently to creating an enabling environment for it to thrive, Paul Carter-Brown, CTO and director at leading Banking as a Service and embedded finance enablement partner, Ukheshe, says the company’s Eclipse platform is paving the way towards a cashless future.
Innovation hinges on a clearly defined, overarching strategy that outlines the broad challenges a company aims to address and the specific role it aims to play in addressing them. The difficulty lies in actualising this vision and seeing it through from conception to a tangible product that has a positive impact. Innovation involves not only high-level ideation, but also execution, ongoing improvement, and a sustained effort throughout the entire process. Innovation is a comprehensive journey that involves both thinking and action, with a focus on continual progress.
Certainly, part of Ukheshe's success in innovation can be attributed to the diverse perspectives within our team. Our team engages in healthy debates that challenge conventional thinking with the aim of inspiring each other to approach problems in new ways. This approach was integral in the development of our Eclipse platform, which addresses the complex challenges within financial services. From our early days as a software consulting company, we quickly realised the value of diversity in our team and the impact it has on our business. As we continue to grow, we remain committed to hiring and empowering individuals with unique perspectives and experiences. By embracing external thought leadership and individuals who challenge the status quo, we foster an environment where innovative ideas thrive.
Current trends in Africa and emerging markets present a huge opportunity to move away from cash-based economies and create a more formal financial economy through digital payments. By including everyone in the financial system, there can be a larger tax base which will benefit the economy as a whole. This move towards digitisation also helps solve the massive cost problem associated with cash, and with the growing smartphone penetration, managing finances through digital means becomes more accessible. Ukheshe plays a crucial role in facilitating a smooth and cost-effective transition by providing the necessary framework.
An enabling environment
Being part of, and contributing to, an environment that fosters growth is part of the Ukheshe DNA and is mirrored in the Eclipse platform. We are developing a technology platform that serves as the infrastructure for fintechs and banks to drive and realise their own innovative aspirations. Our platform handles everything from KYC, ledgering, financial transactions, integrations, backend, payment systems, and local identity systems, as there is a significant regulatory burden and compliance requirements when it comes to offering financial services. Our aim with the Eclipse platform is to provide a user-friendly and universal solution that promotes a collaborative environment, allowing people to build and develop their innovations on top of it. By building on our platform, innovators can fully realise their great ideas while also complying with the relevant regulatory and compliance requirements.
An interoperable future
In the journey towards a cashless future, the replacement needs to be something that is universally accepted, or at the very least, a solution that is ubiquitous within the realm that an individual makes and receives payments. Credit and debit cards have a significant advantage in their global acceptance. You can use these cards at almost every merchant, which makes them a reliable payment method in the formal economy. However, this is not the case for businesses that only accept cash. This is why interoperability is so crucial. Ukheshe is putting a great deal of effort into streamlining the process of card issuing in the new markets in which we launch. Our goal is to make it a simple and low-cost process for banks and fintechs to issue cards to payers. This will enable payers to easily load value onto their cards and make payments effortlessly. On the other hand, we are also focusing on payment acceptance, helping SMEs and businesses accept card payments as easily as possible to ensure that cardholders can use their cards wherever they go.
Digital payments offer huge benefits such as reduced reliance on cash, better financial data, and streamlined financial management. This data can also be used in future technologies such as AI and machine learning to help people manage their financial journeys. With a purely cash-based financial history, opportunities for loans and credit facilities are limited. However, moving payments digitally creates a valuable digital trail that can be used to demonstrate financial history and obtain loans, ultimately helping individuals and businesses grow in a truly digital economy.