IT in Banking

Mastercard Start Path selects uKheshe for international accelerator

Read time 2min 40sec

Digital banking platform provider for SMMEs, uKheshe, has been selected to join Mastercard Start Path, an engagement programme for later-stage scaling start-ups.

Launched in 2014, Start Path is Mastercard’s start-up engagement programme that brings together a network of innovators from across the globe to shape the future of commerce.

As an industry-wide collaboration, Start Path convenes banks, merchants and start-ups to scale new technology solutions for the financial services and payments industries.

The programme evaluates more than 1 500 applications per year and selects around 40 companies that demonstrate a readiness to scale.

Focused on financial inclusion, uKheshe’s QR-based technology platform helps banks and telcos provide affordable digital banking and payment services to SMMEs. The platform’s partnership with Mastercard and Nedbank allows card-holders to pay and receive money at a fraction of traditional costs, with mostly the unbanked driving its growth.

Informal banking is now an accessible, untapped and lucrative growth market for banking partners, with Sub-Saharan Africa being one of the fastest-growing investment regions for fintech companies, according to uKheshe.

The six-month virtual programme provides start-ups with operational support, commercial engagement and the opportunity for strategic investment.

Clayton Hayward, co-founder and CEO of uKheshe, says its inclusion in Mastercard’s Start Path programme is an exciting and prestigious opportunity. “Mastercard’s ecosystem, customers and innovations will assist us to continue building one of the most significant transaction platforms on the continent.”

He adds that Start Path will assist the company in further addressing the unbanked challenge faced by the continent’s population. “We need to ensure we are able to reach these unbanked individuals and better understand, as financial service providers, why they opt to stay in the informal sector.”

According to Hayward, since launching uKheshe 15 months ago, the dearth of financial inclusion in Africa has become glaringly obvious.

While progress has been made in terms of mobile money, it’s become imperative that we move beyond that and look into digital payment solutions, he adds. “Financial inclusion is not just about technology disruption, but more about solving greater economic problems. Consumers need simpler, more cost-effective ways to do simple tasks such as sending or receiving money and buying airtime.”

Start Path is one of the many programmes that fall under Mastercard Accelerate, which provides a single entry point to Mastercard’s wide fintech portfolio and access to everything start-ups need to grow quickly.

“After sourcing the best and brightest later stage start-ups from across the globe, we’re thrilled to welcome uKhesheto the Start Path ecosystem of innovators,” says Amy Neale, senior VP of Start Path & Fintech, Mastercard.

“The diversity in our Start Path programme proves how quickly the pace of innovation is happening and together we are building the future of commerce.”

Since the inception of the programme, Mastercard says start-ups have gone on to raise $2.6 billion in capital, and partner with the largest banks, merchants and well-known organisations.

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