While 2021 was challenging for many businesses and characterised by an economy struggling to get back on its feet after months of lockdown, the digital payments sector experienced a boom. There was a huge need to go digital, payments went contactless and large financial institutions needed digital mobile money propositions, and they needed them fast.
Ukheshe was able to meet these needs with innovative product offerings and has in fact grown fourfold during this uncertain year. We have increased our staff complement to just under 100 and expanded our product offering to support our vision of driving financial inclusion in previously underserved and untapped markets.
Here are some of the highlights of a fast-paced and successful year for Ukheshe:
In September this year, Ukheshe partnered with Africa’s tech unicorn Chipper to enable P2P transfers in multiple territories across South Africa and the rest of the continent, offering value-added services such as airtime and data and the ability to legally buy, sell or transfer cryptocurrency.
Ukheshe also established a partnership with boostXB, empowering more individuals to pay and get paid across Africa using their cell phones.
Scaling the business
We have diversified our customer base and entered multiple new markets, signing over 50 enterprise deals this year, which is an endorsement of the business-to-business pivot taken in 2020. This diversification has allowed us to grow from offering solutions to banks only, to providing solutions to mobile network operators and other fintechs.
AI and machine learning to detect fraud
Our team started to delve deeper into machine learning and artificial intelligence to detect fraud and protect our tenants. The security of our tenants is a top priority, so we are continuously improving on our existing offerings to ensure the safety of all transactions.
Start Path evolved to Engage partnership
After joining the Mastercard Start Path Program in 2020, aimed at helping innovative, later-stage startups to scale, Ukheshe is now a Mastercard Engage partner – making us one of only 29 partners in the world.
Our internal product development innovations have continued to expand into new areas of innovative thinking. Some of the product innovations we are most proud of include:
Africa’s first virtual card for use on WhatsApp, allowing users to send money securely to anyone with a cell phone number, in collaboration with Mastercard, Nedbank and Telkom.
The Eclipse API, our offering in the ‘tap on glass’ space, simplifies payments and provides access to payment technology, products and services – all from one place.
The facilitation of the Telkom Pay and Engen ‘Tip an Attendant’ initiative, which allows motorists and shoppers across South Africa to tip Engen staff for their service using QR codes.
mPOS, an affordable point of sale App from Telkom, enabled by Ukheshe, allows small merchants to quickly and easily register for financial services.
A new physical card design, enabling companies to cost-effectively issue prepaid cards to customers. A QR code printed onto the card allows the user to make all kinds of payments, including QR, online, tap-to-pay and inserting into a POS device.
Our Eclipse clients can add to their solution stack and offer their customers a seamless and frictionless way of storing and trading in cryptocurrency. Since our clients have already completed an extensive KYC process they do not need to sign up, making this an easy one-click process.
Overall, it's been a massively successful year, and we are looking forward to expanding and growing as a company in 2022!