The unseen challenges of an overlooked market

By Tony Reddy, CliqueFin CEO

As the world continues to advance, so does the technology we use. However, there is one fundamental problem. If technology progresses faster than those who are meant to use it, a disconnect occurs. Many businesses strive to bring faster solutions that advance at the speed of light. To be relevant, we need solutions that advance at the speed of life.

South Africa is an emerging market where the majority of its population prefers using cash. Multiple initiatives by banks and telecommunica­tions companies with low-cost bank accounts and wallets have not seen meaningful adoption by this market.

The biggest issue for cash-using customers is their exclusion from the digital economy. They can’t take advantage of the benefits that e-commerce offers, so every transaction is laden with unseen costs such as travel and risk.

They are also excluded from first-tier invest­ments and healthcare products. Only 15% of South Africans have medical aid. In addition, it is difficult for a cash customer to acquire household assets because credit is difficult and expensive to access. Lay-by is the current method for most of the population to access high-value items but requires a commitment to large monthly payments.

Preferring to use cash should not alienate or disadvantage already disadvantaged commu­nities. Life has become even more expensive for South Africans who choose to use cash. Accessing basic services costs more for those who already don’t have much. For those who live in the city, paying your electricity, satellite television bills, or ordering groceries can be done on apps.

Modelled after the silicon valley giants, most South African FinTech solutions make it impos­sible for the cash customer to participate. You still find disclaimers about delivery in outlying areas being billed differently. Businesses have normalised the idea that consumers should adapt to them, rather than businesses offering solutions that adapt to the consumer.

CliqueFin financially empowers communities by building and investing in social impact plat­forms and businesses. These evolving and inno­vative platforms and strategic collaborations are geared toward including the mass market in the digital economy.

The company harnesses its technology, rich consumer insights, and ubiquitous network to digitise key life occasions, creating access to payment, financial planning, investment, communication solutions and other business-to-business products to drive financial inclusion.

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