Yoco, a South African financial platform for small business, has announced the Yoco Neo, the company’s ‘standalone’ card machine which does not require a smart device or bluetooth to enable payments.

“This year, with the Covid-related challenges and subsequent acceleration away from cash, has reaffirmed Yoco’s vision to open commerce for all by enabling entrepreneurs to get paid effortlessly,” says Yoco’s co-founder and CEO, Katlego Maphai. “One hundred thousand merchants are now part of the Yoco community, during a year in which so much economic activity came to a pause. We had the firsthand privilege of seeing small businesses retool, rethink and restart.”

Neo, which means gift in seSotho, is Yoco’s answer to extensive customer feedback requesting a card machine that stands alone and is affordable.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the structural barriers that exclude small businesses from the financial system. Traditional bank card machines stand alone, but the contracts, red tape, and fees place them out of reach for a vast majority of small business owners,” says Lungisa Matshoba , Yoco’s co-founder and chief technology officer.

“Our customer research found that many entrepreneurs were facing a growing consumer demand for cashless payment options (such as contactless, online, or mobile) but faced barriers with the limited options available to small businesses and their associated costs. They needed a device that would allow them to affordably accept card payments, and digitise their business with the simplicity that they’ve come to expect from Yoco,” adds Matshoba.

“And it was with this in mind that the Yoco Product team set out to build a solution that is as simple as it is forward thinking.”

The Yoco Neo is a standalone card machine that is capable of processing payments without needing to connect via bluetooth to a secondary smart device. It comes with an all-day battery, built-in SIM card and unlimited data which enables successful transactions without a dependency on power or WiFi.

The Neo’s SIM card is equipped to roam and connect to the strongest, available network provider and is able to process payments via tap, swipe, and chip-and-pin.

It has a colour touchscreen, 48 hour on-device sales history, and the ability to send receipts via SMS or email.

“The issue of accessibility runs far deeper than a means to accept card payments,” says Maphai. “We have to consider the impact it has on a business who is excluded from formalised banking beyond the day-to-day.

“What we see are businesses who are also excluded from gaining access to other financial services such as funding, credit, and relief aids. Without a formal record of trading, businesses are treated like they do not exist in the financial system.”

The Yoco Neo is contactless, paperless and, similar to its sibling devices, comes as a once-off purchase without a monthly fee, rental or contract. The Yoco Neo will retail at a launch price of R1 599.00.

The Neo integrates into the broader payments ecosystem.