Digital payments company Ozow has announced new mobile payments solutions for the South African market and is zero-rating data costs for users, with plans to branch out to more African countries in future.
Ozow's CEO and co-founder, Thomas Pays, told journalists on a webinar on Wednesday that too many African consumers and businesses have been excluded from the benefits of the digital economy.
He said that the company is striving to produce payments products that enable greater financial inclusion, especially for historically excluded communities that rely on costly and unsecure cash payments.
"While more than 80% of South Africans hold a bank account, only one out of every eight have a credit card," he said.
"This locks the vast majority of consumers out of digital payments and excludes them from a huge range of services."
"By simplifying payments for consumers and merchants alike, and supporting them with helpful innovations such as zero-rated data costs, we can enable greater participation in the digital economy for all consumers and businesses."
Ozow CEO and co-founder Thomas Pays
Mobile data costs can be a barrier for South Africans who can't afford to get online.
Pays said that ensuring that the payment platform has zero data costs for users will further enable both digital and financial inclusion in SA.
As part of what the company is calling the "Ozow Revolution" it has introduced two new online payments solutions to its platform for the South African market: Ozapp and Ozow PIN.
Ozapp, a progressive web application, enables any user with a bank account or eWallet to transact without a card through a QR-code enabled payment.
Pays said it is designed to ease adoption by doing away with the need for a dedicated native application.
"Despite smartphone penetration standing at more than 90%, many South Africans still rely on lower-cost models that lack the storage space needed for many mobile apps," he explained.
The Ozow PIN payment platform
Pays also introduced Ozow PIN, which simplifies EFT payments in an attempt to get more South Africans to engage in e-commerce at a time when physical retail is experiencing COVID-19 related disruption.
"By reducing the time needed to make EFT payments and removing friction in the transaction process, Ozow PIN can help grow transaction volumes while attracting new customers. It's a win-win for consumers and merchants," Pays said.
He added that the Ozow PIN service will also be available in all of South Africa's 11 official languages by the end of this year.
The Ozapp's merchant profile
Previously, Ozow's payment innovations were only available to enterprise and SME merchants.
Demand means the company has expanded its services to sole proprietors and individuals, who can now make use of Ozow as a payment provider free of charge for the first 12 months or up to R1 million ($59,730) free processing per month.
Pays said that there is a pipeline of new payment products planned for launch over the coming months.
"We're only just getting started with developing new innovations that enable more South Africans to enjoy the benefits of digital payments," he said.
"As a business, we will continue to find ways to drive digital inclusion until every person on the African continent can make or receive safe, convenient digital payments.".
— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa