Yoco merchant milestone amid surge in cashless payments

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Katlego Maphai, co-founder and CEO of Yoco.
Katlego Maphai, co-founder and CEO of Yoco.

Local payment solutions fintech firm Yoco says it has experienced significant growth in the last year, now garnering 120 000 merchant customers who use its card machines, online payment and financial products across SA.

The Cape Town-headquartered digital payments provider says as e-commerce boomed in the wake of the pandemic and national lockdown last year, more merchants across SA turned their attention to establishing an online presence, increasing demand for its various digital payment offerings.

The company grew from 80 000 merchants in March 2020, to more than 120 000 merchants to date.

Founded by Katlego Maphai, Carl Wazen, Lungisa Matshoba and Bradley Wattrus in 2015, Yocobuilds tools and services to help small firms get paid, run their business better and accept payments from customers.

The company says it has played a crucial role in enabling financial inclusion among local merchants, with around 80% of its customer base having never accepted card payments before.

During the last year, Yoco launched a suite of products designed to simplify the process of setting up and facilitating payments for small businesses, includingPayment Page, Payment Request, Yoco Neo and most recently the Yoco Payment Gateway – a plug-and-play solution that enables businesses to merge their online and card-present transactions to provide a holistic view of their business via the Yoco Business Portal.

Maphai, who is also CEO of Yoco, attributes the company’s success to not only providing technology and tools that meet customers’ needs, thereby increasing digital inclusion, but also to the simplicity of its offerings.

“The pandemic has underscored the need for small business owners to meet their customers at as many touch points as possible, and Yoco is able to help them grow by providing easy-to-use consolidated payment solutions.

“We attribute our growth to our ongoing effort to authentically and wholeheartedly serve the small business community. The small businesses which form Yoco’s merchant base are those who have historically been excluded from the formalised payments industry due to the associated costs and contracts of using bank terminals.”

Since inception, Yoco has expanded to set up stores and offices in Johannesburg, Durban and Pretoria.

According to Maphai, Yoco’s growth, especially over the last two years, indicates the extent to which the small business sector has been under-served.

The company says its mission is to open commerce by enabling entrepreneurs to get paid, provide omni-channel payments solutions and grow their business.

“We believe that by opening up more possibilities for entrepreneurs to be successful, we can help create more jobs, enable people to thrive and help to drive our economy forward.

“Through lockdown, Yoco’s merchant base maintained a steady growth rate. Our continued growth has reaffirmed our mission and purpose, and shown us the extent to which we are needed in the small business landscape. By reconciling card, online and mobile payments, Yoco’s customers are able to run and grow their businesses far more efficiently.”

According to Yoco, although the shift away from cash has been on the cards for years, nothing has accelerated the move to digital payments quite like the pandemic.

“At the end of March, 8% of Yoco businesses did not accept cash. Three months later, this number rose to 32% and today that number has since significantly increased.”

Discussing the possibilities of international expansion, Maphai points out the company still has a lot of room for growth locally.

“There are some expansion plans on the cards; however, nothing concrete yet. Our focus is still with the South African market – there is a lot we want to accomplish and many more businesses to bring into the formalised payments market,” he concludes.

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