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Standard Bank targets bulk of Africa’s payments with Unayo

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Africa’s biggest lender, Standard Bank, yesterday unveiled a plan to facilitate the majority of the continent’s payments through its new digital platform, Unayo.

Unayo, which means ‘you have it’, aims to connect Africa’s informal market to financial services.

Standard Bank predicts Unayo will ultimately facilitate up to 90% of Africa’s payments, as the platform has been deployed in Botswana, Malawi, Lesotho and Eswatini. The bank says in the first quarter of 2021, the platform processed over 60 000 customer-initiated transactions.

A growing number of people are taking up digital banking and shunning the traditional brick-and-mortar branches. Banks have witnessed increased use of digital banking channels amid social distancing protocols because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Standard Bank says Unayo is a multi-faceted, interactive platform that will reach across all sectors and communities.

Through Unayo, Standard Bank will service four key payment ecosystems: salaried individuals, cross-border payments, traders and donor organisations.

The bank wants to create an ecosystem of users and merchants, with the goal of stimulating entrepreneurial activity and driving financial inclusion on the continent.

“African communities are often underserved when it comes to catering to their financial needs. Much of that is linked to barriers associated with income, access to branch services and technology, as well as the cost of transactions. Unayo overcomes these hurdles by enabling fully know-your-client compliant onboarding and activating mechanisms for external funding (via donors and producers) to be injected into the ecosystem, allowing people from anywhere and all walks of life to participate.”

Wally Fisher, head of Unayo at Standard Bank, comments: “Anyone with a cellphone number, agnostic of the mobile network operator and handset technology, can receive value through the use of the Unayo solution and become part of the financial world.

“It is primarily supported by USSD, which extends its reach to users without smartphone access and where they are most comfortable and active: on their mobile devices. Customers with smart mobile devices can also use the solution by downloading the app from Google Play, the iOS App Store or Huawei Gallery and access more enhanced features of the banking system.”

Unayo also provides unlimited capacity to add features and services that are determined by users of the platform and not by Standard Bank.

“It is not about us building services, but users adding services that can better connect their lives. This underlying technology means users can be the custodians of their preferences and tailor the platform for their unique needs. Business owners or individuals can create savings pockets for specific goals, like education, by opening transactional or business accounts.”

According to Fisher, Unayo holds the potential to initiate a richer savings and investing culture, as the receivers and holders of funds are able to create society and shared savings schemes. 

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