Published in FM. This payment company is a disrupter: it makes it easy to make a payment without using cash, which also expands financial inclusion. By Nafisa Akabor.

Don’t have cash to pay a car guard or street vendor? uKheshe, a payment system launched last year, makes it easy to pay someone who doesn’t have a bank account — and that can include informal merchants, street vendors and car guards.

uKheshe, Zulu for cash, is able to operate without cash changing hands. Using an app: users can scan a QR code printed on a small plastic card provided with a lanyard — which can hang around the neck of a vendor — to make a payment. The receiver can use any phone to access their uKheshe account, and is able to cash out at Pick n Pay, Builders Warehouse or Pep stores.

uKheshe co-founder Jason Penton says over the past year it had signed up just under 300,000 customers, but it was forced to scale this back dramatically to comply with local banking legislation. “Banks started noticing because we were paving new ground through partnerships with Nedbank and Mastercard.”

The company had to enforce a new registration process with its entire customer base to comply with the Financial Intelligence Centre Act.

As a result it lost a quarter of that base, says Penton.

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