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SOLmate sees increased cashless transactions in SA

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 02 Feb 2024
Jonathan Holden, COO of SOLmate.
Jonathan Holden, COO of SOLmate.

South African fintech start-up SOLmate has seen strong demand for its digital wallet in the local market, with its user numbers growing 100% year-on-year, it says.

SOLmate hit a milestone in December, recording one million transactions since inception – with over 30 000 new customers signing up on its mobile app in the past two months.

Founded in 2018 as SOL Wallet, the company offers a digital payment platform that provides local customers with a digital wallet facility that includes an account number and a linked debit card, powered by Mastercard.

Its mobile app enables users to make online payments, receive and send payments to each other, including receiving salary payments or saving their money on the e-wallet. Users can also withdraw cash from various retail stores and ATMs countrywide for a monthly account fee starting at R10.

SOLmate users can make transactions, top-up airtime and utilities, and complete free transfers between SOLmate customers.

Jonathan Holden, COO of SOLmate, notes the demand for digital wallets is on the rise in SA, as more retailers and businesses transition to cashless operations.

Additional factors contributing to the company’s rapid customer growth include the need for consumers to save funds and the digital wallet’s ability to sync with its sister shop, SOLshop, he points out.

This capability allows SOLmate users to buy and pay for groceries on the SOLshop online marketplace.

“The cashless trend aligns with the broader shift toward a cashless economy, with major South African retailers embracing the change. The consumer adoption of digital payment methods is on the rise, fuelled by the convenience of mobile wallets, contactless cards and peer-to-peer platforms.

“Over the past year, we continued to witness a surge in demand for our app, and it is clear that the appeal of these platforms extends far beyond basic payments, with consumers hungry for a suite of services,” comments Holden.

The share of cash transactions at points-of-sale in South Africa declined by 6% between 2018 and 2023, according to research firm Statista's Consumer Insights.

In 2021, SOLmate introduced a virtual card that provides clients with the ability to shop safely online, and draw cash from various retail stores.

According to Holden, the card, together with SOLmate’s targeted online marketing, are additional factors that contributed to business growth.

“We have consolidated our agent footprint in Johannesburg, and pushed our brand through a network of over 8 000 agents. SOLmate has also added more functionality to the app, to ensure a feature-rich digital wallet,” adds Holden.

Plans are in place to add more in-app features to ensure SOLmate evolves in 2024, and create a “future defined by strengthened security, user-centric features, and a focus on enabling a personalised customer experience to further drive financial inclusion in SA”.