Payment System Launched for Un-Banked Millions in Africa

SendSpend poised to become frontrunner in race with payment giants.

According to The World Bank’s Global Findex Database, in 2015 there were 350 million unbanked people in Sub Sahara Africa. Global Findex statistics are regarded as the world’s most comprehensive collection of data still cited today, which analyses how adults save, borrow, make payments, and manage risk.

By comparison, it is estimated that currently there are over 500 million mobile subscribers within Sub Sahara Africa.

Globally, the number of people with no form of bank account stands at 1,7 billion, although two-thirds of this population have access to a mobile phone.

These findings are the driving force behind SendSpend. This London-based fintech and the brainchild of two South Africans, is a global payment system based on cloud and mobile technology, which enables the unbanked to pay online and remit money instantly to each other using only a smartphone.

Simply put, millions of unbanked customers throughout Africa with an internet connection and access to a smart phone will soon be able to use SendSpend, a payment system not restricted to a particular mobile network or financial institution.

The platform, which is now available in South Africa, is entirely digital and free for consumers, who can use SendSpend within minutes of registering via a downloaded App.

“SendSpend is committed to enhance and uplift the lives of people in underserved local communities. Financial inclusion is a primary focus in achieving one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals of eliminating poverty and SendSpend is very proud to be part of this very ambitious goal.

We want to enable economically marginalised consumers to participate in the digital economy by having access to financial services,” says SendSpend Group Director and co-founder Tracy Andersson.

Unlike most other mobile payment systems, which are either linked to a bank account, a traditional payment card, or a mobile operator, this platform is solely owned and operated by SendSpend.

This eliminates unnecessary costs and complexities in the supply chain, enabling a much more affordable and user-friendly service to merchants and consumers.

“We set out to develop a payment system that was affordable, secure and functional”, says Graham Davies, one of the two co-founders’ of SendSpend. “In addition, SendSpend’s flexible and dynamic architecture enables us to adapt to different compliance and regulatory requirements encountered by different countries. This allows us to offer a full suite of services and functionality when competitors often can’t”.

Customers top up a virtual card or withdraw funds at one of many SendSpend Cash In/Out Agents. Once the virtual card is loaded, funds can be spent at any participating merchant either by scanning a QR Code or by merely entering the registered mobile number into an online checkout. Peer-to-peer remittances within SendSpend are instant. All transactions are authorised from within the app and two-factor authentication using an OTP is required for online transactions. These are unique features which are not offered by other alternative payment systems designed for the unbanked.

SendSpend has not only created a free and easy to use payment system for unbanked customers, but also enables opportunities for agents who include mass-market retailers and township stores.

SendSpend Agents are able to generate income for themselves by setting their own cash handling fees. This creates a competitive “market” economy and matches supply with demand. Agents can also attract more people to their store by offering this service and can reduce the amount of cash they need to keep in store.

“Our Smart Agents are the backbone of SendSpend’s Agent Network”, Andersson says. “We’re taking financial services right into the villages and rural areas that frequently pose a challenge to financial institutions. Consumers no longer need to travel long distances to access financial services such as insurance, money transfers and online buying”.

A common challenge with online businesses in emerging markets is the issue of goods being delivered and a customer being unable to pay for them. SendSpend solves this problem by initially holding the online payment in escrow. In this way, the merchant has confidence that the goods will be paid for once delivered and the customer has confidence that they can cancel the order and have funds immediately refunded to their SendSpend e-Wallet should the incorrect goods be delivered, or the goods not be delivered at all.

Another unique feature is the agent search function allowing customers to find agents close by; similar to how you would find a ride-hailing app.  Available agents are displayed on a Google Map, showing the distance and fees each agent charges for a deposit or withdrawal, giving power to the consumer to compare available options.

There are a variety of existing payment systems that can be used by the unbanked, but many have failed to adequately accommodate the specific challenges of an individual with no formal banking facilities.

SendSpend is unique. It was built from the get-go to be an “end to end” electronic payment system for the unbanked and provides customers with physical cash in hand, an affordable and immediate means to electronically pay someone else. This is exactly what sets SendSpend apart.

SendSpend is an Authorised Financial Services Provider, approved by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA).

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