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While significant measures have been put in place to combat the spread of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), South African banks are turning to cashless transactions. Mobile money transfers, online, debit and credit card transactions are being encouraged as opposed to cash, which is a possible source of transmission.

Clayton Hayward, co-founder of Ukheshe, a micro transaction platform, says that a move to a cashless environment is now possible for all South Africans regardless of income levels or banking status: “While the initial intent was to address the 11 million unbanked or underbanked, cashless transactions have gained momentum in light of the unprecedented global health crisis. Cash is a possible contaminant, making a cashless environment a preferred and safer option.”

Hayward says that internet banking, electronic transfers, mobile banking apps and USSD transfers are better alternatives for controlling the spread of corona virus, while also providing extended value to the users: “With a good understanding of what the majority of the market is currently facing, Ukheshe has launched a 90 day ‘zero rating cash management fee’ to assist merchants and consumers using the platform.”

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Launched in 2019, Ukheshe provides e-money services and is the only micro-transaction platform to align with the South African Reserve Bank’s requirements set out in 2009. Its partnership with both Nedbank and Mastercard in South Africa has enabled the platform to provide a diverse range of e-money services.

Hayward says that only licensed banks are allowed to facilitate wallet-based flows of money, handle cash deposits and withdrawals: “Thanks to a strong partnership with Nedbank and Mastercard, Ukheshe is the only card association acquiring platform that does not require a merchant to have a bank account. This is significant for the continent and will go a long way in terms of better servicing lower income earners and growing the base of cashless consumers.”

There are very few options available within the continent that is able to provide a viable platform for the mass adoption of cashless payments: “Ukheshe is the best placed platform to make a significant impact on the transformation of Africa’s cashless environment,” says Hayward.