Zambia-based fintech company Digital PayGo has launched PayGo SME-in-a-Box, a new mobile payments solution powered by Mastercard that will enable SMEs to safely make and receive digital payments through various digital channels.

The low-cost, bundled digital offering enables business owners to access a wide range of financial services quickly and easily through a single intuitive app compatible with all Android mobile devices.

Backed by Mastercard’s payment technology, PayGo SME-in-a-Box enables businesses to accept in-store digital payments from their customers across channels, including Quick Response (QR), USSD, card and mobile money. SMEs can also pay for services and procure goods using a virtual and physical (plastic) card.

A report commissioned by the Zambian Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry indicates that SMEs represent 97% of all businesses in Zambia and employ over half of the working-class population, with nine out of 10 businesses said to operate within the informal sector. These SMEs are faced with varying challenges from paying and getting paid digitally to accessing the capital they need to scale up their businesses.

Digitalisation of payments in the SME sector will enable these businesses to generate a transaction history used for credit scoring, enabling them to be eligible to access finance. By opening up critical funding opportunities, both new start-ups and existing SMEs will be able to grow and contribute to Zambia’s overall economic development.

Charity Mwanza, CEO of Digital PayGo, says: “We are excited to partner with Mastercard to launch PayGo SME-in-a-Box. Our aim is to help SMEs improve their operations and grow their revenue, while driving financial inclusion and supporting growth of the digital economy. The Zambian SME sector has been largely excluded in terms of access to financial services and this proposition will enhance the inclusion process through which SMEs make and receive payments through various channels.”

According to Mastercard, the partnership support’s it’s global commitment to bring a total of 1-billion people and 50-million micro and small businesses into the digital economy by 2025.

“SMEs have an outsized impact on the economy, providing a livelihood for many while advancing inclusive growth to reduce poverty and boost prosperity. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a heightened consumer preference for cashless payment options, yet many small businesses do not have the resources and tools to accept digital payments. Through PayGo SME-in-a-Box, we can support financial inclusion by providing SME owners with a quick and simple way to digitize their business, and deliver best-in-class consumer experiences for sustained future growth,” says Vincent Chipimo Malekani, country business development director at Mastercard, Zambia and Malawi.

This partnership supports efforts by the Zambian government to accelerate financial inclusion for all citizens. According to the National Financial Inclusion Strategy, the Zambian government has outlined targets for the digitisation of government-to-persons (G2P) payments such as government salaries and refunds, and persons to government (P2G) payments such as school fees, health service cost sharing from the public, and tax payments