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Fintech startup now enables 1 000 SMEs

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Following a successful beta programme, which included just over 500 merchants actively transacting on the platform and growing in double-digits every month and its official launch in October 2015, Yoco is one of the fastest growing payments companies in South Africa.
The integrated card payment and point-of-sale solution company has seen substantial growth over the past four months and, at the end of January, was enabling over 1 000 small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).
It has the security stamp from the card payment networks Visa and MasterCard and has the validation of merchants across South Africa, and is adding over 200 new merchants every month.
The dynamic technopreneur founding team behind Yoco consists of MD Katlego Maphai, commercial director Carl Wazen, financial director Bradley Wattrus and technology and product director Lungisa Matshoba.
Yoco is an easy way for SMEs in South Africa to quickly and securely accept card payments at the store, or on the go. It offers businesses a choice of two mobile card readers that connect to a phone or tablet (iOS and Android) and transform it into a card acceptance terminal. All merchants need is an Internet connection to operate it.
The readers are also small enough to fit in a merchant’s pocket and because it is fully mobile, will still operate during load shedding.
These card readers are purchased once-off, which means merchants do not have to pay the hefty monthly rental fees that can be expected from the traditional card machines offered by banks.
Merchants have the option of purchasing the Yoco Plug-in card reader that connects via the phone or tablet’s headphone jack, for R 999 (iOS only) or the Wireless card reader that connects via Bluetooth for R1 999.
Key benefits of the solution include:
* Yoco’s solution includes a free point-of-sale app that lets businesses record card or cash payments, track which of their items are selling and manage their staff.
* Merchants have access to a free business intelligence dashboard, the Yoco Business Portal, which gives merchants access to extensive business intelligence from their transactional data To analyse key trading times, staff sales performance and other key information, which they can use to run their business more efficiently and strategically. This data is then easily exportable to most bookkeeping software.
* Merchants are not locked into a contract.
* There are no monthly charges or minimum volumes (Banks charge a fixed monthly fee of up to R 500 per card terminal per month and require a minimum transaction volume R 15 000 per month).
* No complicated equipment, installation and training are required.
* Yoco’s transaction speeds are some of the fastest in the market. In many cases below five seconds.
* These transactions can be processed over a cellular connection as well as WiFi, which works very well for merchants in remote areas with poor cellular reception.
* Merchants can sign up and be up and running within four working days although the average turnaround time with Yoco has been two days.
* Quick and uncomplicated registration process – 90 % of Yoco applicants meet the criteria to qualify, which is the highest approval rate in the country.
An estimated 500 000 SMEs and sole traders in South Africa don’t accept cards. Because services such as these are traditionally only offered by banks, applying for a credit card machine can be lengthy, complicated and expensive making it prohibitive for small business owners to access.
“With over 75% card penetration among adults in South Africa, a lack of technology service to this market is a factor holding back the growth of the SME sector,” says Yoco’s Wattrus.
“The traditional card machine fees are prohibitive for smaller businesses and the institutions place a lot of weight on trading history and steady transaction revenues to assess risk. Many of these businesses have to wait weeks to get a card terminal from a traditional institution,” he adds.
“Since the introduction of mobile point of sale devices across the globe, accepting payments by card has been made substantially easier, cheaper and more convenient.  And they have the same level of security as standard point of sale devices,” adds James Simpson, country manager for Visa in South Africa.