South Africa has just got its own version of Venmo, one of the US’s most successful payment platforms owned by PayPal that processes $25 billion in person to person payments annually. The Slide app, founded by three young South Africans who recently returned from living in the States, has been developed to change the way South Africans pay each other.
Says co-founder Irshad Kathrada, “In the US we witnessed the huge growth in payment methods and how easy it was to pay people. So we developed Slide – a safe, simple and free way of sending money from one person to another using a mobile phone. Making a payment is as easy as sending a message. It saves you having to carry cash or knowing someone’s bank account details. It also doesn’t matter which bank or mobile network operator the sender or receiver uses. Slide is ideal for parents sending money to their children and for sharing costs like rent, concert tickets or a restaurant bill. A worker who wants to send money to his family within SA can now do it at no cost.”
Another benefit is that Slide is social – it looks like a WhatsApp or Facebook message when you use it and you can even send payments with emojis.
How to use Slide
Download the app by searching Slide Financial on the Google Play or App Store and complete a quick sign up form which doesn’t require FICA. Slide will link with your contacts so you can choose who to pay or add a new contact with a cell number or email address. Then simply add how much you want to pay, personalise your payment with a message, and authorise and send the money by selecting the bank you are with. Payments are funded using EFT secure technology direct from the sender’s bank account.
The recipient will be notified by SMS and email and then prompted to download the app. The money can be cashed out at any time to his or her bank account with one click. The money typically appears the next business day irrespective of bank. The sender will get a confirmation that the funds have been received.
Person-to-person social payments
Kathrada continues, “As Slide is a social payment mechanism, payments between contacts are as easy as sending a message. It really is the easiest way to pay another person, and as there’s nothing quite like it in South Africa, we expect rapid growth.”
Person-to-person payments are a large part of the South African economy, with consumers seeking more convenient and cost effective ways to do this. According to a 2015 FinScope study, bank/ATM (43%) and supermarket money transfers (42%) currently dominate payment channels, while use of cash is in steady decline.
Kathrada says that, “Standard payments are often expensive and inconvenient, while cash is unsafe and not everyone has easy access to an ATM. This opened up the opportunity for Slide. Mobile phone penetration is growing quickly across South Africa, with more than 90% of adults having access to their own mobile phone. Lowering the barriers to sending and receiving money can have a material impact on financial cohesion across the country.”
When asked about the origin story of Slide, Kathrada described the day earlier this year, when he found himself needing to pay co-founder, Alon Stern, for picking up lunch, but didn’t have cash on him. “It was in that moment that we realised how necessary a payment platform like Venmo is to ensure that money flows around the SA economy simply and securely.”
“We researched the market and reviewed payments apps that have worked in SA and those that have failed. Those fintech businesses that failed tried to enter the person to person payments market wanting to pass costs on to the sender and /or receiver, and in some cases restricted use to certain mobile or bank networks, which limits who you can send money to or receive from. This resulted in their lack of success. We used these learnings to develop an enhanced solution.”
Slide makes use of the highest level security protocols. Payments into the Slide network use the same security protocols as internet banking. Payments from a bank are facilitated by CallPay under the highest level encryption, with advanced compliance levels.
Slide is a gold member of AlphaCode, a club for fintech entrepreneurs powered by RMI Holdings. Dominique Collett, head of AlphaCode, comments, “Slide is a great example of importing a hugely successful international fintech business and localising it. It is very exciting when South African talent returns from overseas bringing their experience and different perspectives. I believe there is a need for a solution like Slide, particularly for the urban millennial consumer.”
Slide has been funded and developed by its founders: Irshad Kathrada, who after getting his finance degree worked for JP Morgan in Johannesburg, London and New York; Terence Goldberg, who holds a Masters degree in Mathematics and a second Masters degree in Finance from Cambridge University who worked in Toronto and San Francisco; and Dr Alon Stern, who moved to the US from South Africa on a Fulbright scholarship where he worked at Princeton University, and travelled to more than 80 countries as part of his PhD research.