In recent years, the landscape of African payments has undergone significant transformation and the demand for digital payment solutions has increased significantly. In specific markets, contactless payments have swiftly become the preferred method of payment among banked customers, following the pandemic. Remarkably, this trend endures unchanged.
Several new solutions such as Tap-on-glass made their local debut, while others, such as mobile point of sale (mPOS) solutions became cemented in everyday life.
Presently, the latest advancement has emerged in the form of Kernel in the Cloud (KiC) – characterised as the forthcoming wave in digital payment solutions says Jason Penton, Chief Product Officer, and Co-founder of Banking as a Service (BaaS) and embedded finance enabler, Ukheshe.
Penton explains, “While ‘Tap-on-glass’ technology enabled merchants to accept payments through customers tapping a card on an NFC-enabled Android phone, KiC elevates this capability by enabling seamless communication between any device and Visa’s cloud-based payment system.”
KiC takes away the need for payment processing software to be embedded in each hardware device – instead, it’s universally accessible in the cloud. It allows for the transformation of almost any mobile device and tablet into a cloud-connected payment terminal.
The solution was launched in 2022 and Ukheshe was the first local B2B enabler to fully integrate this solution on its Eclipse API, allowing its clients to use this new functionality.
“Furthermore, users can manage several mPOS devices through a single wallet on Eclipse. This means a merchant with multiple shops or, say, a restaurant with several devices being used by different waiters at once, can direct all those funds to a single wallet and manage their finances from there,” says Penton.
“This partnership with Ukheshe also forms part of our commitment to help drive financial inclusion and enhance the affordability of digital payments in South Africa. The Kernel in the Cloud (KiC) will enable new payment experiences and allow merchants to accept payments across a range of devices quickly. Users will also benefit from a fully certified and secure solution that enables seamless, cloud-based software updates,” says Vahini Jaganath, Senior Director: Head of Digital Solutions for Visa Sub Saharan Africa.
The introduction of Kernel in the Cloud (KiC) as the next phase in digital payment solutions, signifies a ground-breaking advancement. By enabling seamless communication between various devices and Visa’s cloud-based payment system, KiC opens doors to a more accessible and efficient payment ecosystem.
Penton envisions cloud acceptance as the forthcoming frontier of payment solutions, particularly in developing nations. He explains, “Traditional POS devices can be very expensive, and the certification processes can be time-consuming and confusing, creating a barrier to entry. Even mPOS devices, though less expensive, have some of the same hurdles.”
Cloud acceptance removes all those challenges while providing the same benefits, making it easier for small and independent businesses to deliver touchless payment options to their customers as any big business would. Large retailers, too, are always looking for ways to enhance in-store experiences, and this certainly improves convenience for customers. It creates new avenues for innovation, and this is only the beginning.
Cloud acceptance holds significant promise, particularly in developing countries, where it can democratize access to touchless payment options for businesses of all sizes. This innovation not only addresses existing hurdles posed by traditional POS devices but also encourages a culture of innovation, promising a future where payment experiences are seamless, secure, and inclusive for all.