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HelloPay targets migrants, SMEs with cashless payments

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 08 Apr 2022
Zunaid Miya, managing director of HelloPay.
Zunaid Miya, managing director of HelloPay.

Local fintech firm HelloPay is targeting immigrants and SMEs in South Africa with cashless payment systems.

In an interview with ITWeb, Zunaid Miya, MD of HelloPay, says the biggest challenge the migrant market faces is access to financial services in South Africa.

He says this is because banks are usually reluctant to accept foreign documents, which makes it difficult for migrants to obtain loans or payment devices.

Among HelloPay’s products is the SoftPOS solution, a contactless payment acceptance app that enables merchants to accept electronic payments easily by turning an NFC-enabled Android phone into a card acceptance device. Registration for this service is done online.

HelloPay forms part of a larger ecosystem, the HelloGroup. Miya notes that since 2005, the HelloGroup has been creating “game-changing” integrated consumer and business services within the telecommunications and financial business sector for communities not only in South Africa but internationally.

“We help our customers communicate, transact, become entrepreneurs, educate themselves, plan for their future, socialise and share. The most recent service from HelloGroup is that from HelloPay, which meets the merchant needs of enterprises across South Africa,” he says.

Wider reach

Miya tells ITWeb that in this space, HelloPay competes against Kazang, Shop 2 Shop and Vodapay.

Nonetheless, he says the company is seeing a boom in business, now processing on average 35 000 transactions per day.

The nationalities mostly making use of the HelloPay ecosystem include the Asian market (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh), African (Ethiopian, Ghanaians, Zimbabweans), Chinese, as well as the local South African market, he notes.

“Our various service offerings, our profit margins for transactions, and our monthly rental agreements of the device allow us to be profitable.

“We are broadening our market in various segments, while we focus on expanding our device range and drive more digital offerings for our vendor base.”

The fintech firm is developing a tap-on phone solution that will allow customers to pay more than R500 via the softPOS application, he adds.

HelloPay says according to estimates from McKinsey, SMEs make up 98.5% of all businesses in South Africa.

“As the engines powering our economic growth, the challenges as well as the triumphs within the sector reverberate across the entire economy,” says Miya.

The company is of the view that the health of the SME sector is a reliable reflection of economic conditions in the country overall.

“The pandemic has highlighted several long-standing challenges facing SMEs. With dangerously high levels of unemployment, creating jobs and generating growth has never been more important. Providing meaningful avenues for SMEs’ full financial inclusion is a necessary first step in the right direction,” Miya adds.

HelloPay says that according to a recent IMF report: “The importance of financial inclusion is increasingly recognised by policymakers around the world. Small and medium-sized enterprise financial inclusion, in particular, is at the core of the economic diversification and growth challenges many countries are facing.”

Miya says HelloPay’s own journey, which was born out of the need to help migrant workers in South Africa get paid, has evolved into creating a cashless digital ecosystem for SMEs to thrive.

“SA’s migrant workforce makes a sizeable contribution to the country’s economy. Estimates from an OECD report suggest this cohort of workers can increase the South African income per capita by up to 5%. Despite this, migrant workers are routinely discriminated against and face real challenges in accessing even the most basic services, such as opening a bank account, and certainly don’t get the support they need to start a business.”

Levelling the playing field

He adds that emerging technologies are transforming payment methods, especially for the migrant workforce and small merchants.

“Intelligent digital solutions, once only accessible to large enterprises, are now within reach for entrepreneurs and SMEs. It’s these solutions that allow SMEs to compete toe-to-toe with some of the best companies in South Africa.”

Miya says a commitment to real and meaningful financial inclusion for SMEs is something HelloPay continues to champion by offering services that are low-cost, easily accessible and simple to use.

“Digital solutions, like accepting card payments via a mobile phone, have the potential to level the playing field as small businesses can control costs and manage cash flow more effectively. Many small businesses have been cash-based because they had to be; fortunately this is no longer the case.

“When pursued with strategic intent, financial inclusion generates economic growth, which in turn helps communities and individuals everywhere thrive. Financial inclusion means thousands of SMEs and 350 million unbanked adults in Sub-Saharan Africa can finally participate in economic activity.”