In a region still dominated by cash and mobile money options, like M-Pesa, new collaborations between fintechs are looking to capture the price-sensitive market with innovative, open-loop digital payment solutions in East Africa. According to Mark Dankworth, President International, Ukheshe Technologies, the region is poised for a surge in digital banking growth, with the likes of MCQR and virtual cards likely to make the biggest impact.

This follows the Kenyan retail-tech startup, Tanda, leveraging Ukheshe Technologies’ cutting-edge Eclipse API to increase their digital banking offering in Kenya and East Africa to include QR payments, digital wallets and the issuing of physical and virtual cards. The move will empower Tanda agents and merchants throughout East Africa to implement 100,000 physical touch points within the next 24 months.

Dankworth says that despite Kenya’s continued innovation in financial services, thanks to mobile money platforms, a report from FSD Kenya suggests that between 2016 and 2019, traders received over 90% of their revenue in cash. “High transaction fees on many digital payment platforms, coupled with inadequate access to traditional banking infrastructure, have limited the greater adoption of digital payments, particularly in the more price-sensitive sectors of the market of the Kenyan and East African region.”

As a leading fintech enabler, Dankworth says Ukheshe is providing financial service players, telecommunications providers and other organisations in the region, with truly digital-first solutions thanks to the Eclipse API, making informal banking an accessible and lucrative growth market for Ukheshe partners. “As the East African region remains heavily under-served, collaborating with Tanda as an enablement partner ensures we can be at the forefront of providing the right solutions to increase the uptake and use of digital payments.”

He notes that as Eclipse is an orchestration framework layer, it enables single API integration to access multiple payment solutions with the inclusion of third-party products. “Through Eclipse our clients are able to customise and cherry-pick from a vast range of payment products. We remove the heavy lifting for fintechs, banks and telcos by offering seamless payment solutions that are as convenient as they are affordable” says Dankworth.

Geoffrey Mulei, CEO of Tanda says the startup chose to partner with Ukheshe because of the dramatically simplified manner in which digital wallets, card issuing and acquiring can be rolled out. “Traditionally, these capabilities have either been highly inaccessible or cost prohibitive for a significant majority of players in the fintech space, and can take several years to deploy. The Tanda / Ukheshe collaboration has the potential to close these critical gaps, as it enables cheap transactions on digital platforms and accelerates the deployment of banking infrastructure.”

Dankworth adds that Eclipse provides cost-effective payment solutions for organisations to enable their small merchant customers to accept digital payments. “With simple, accessible and affordable solutions that solve real-world pain points; touchless, paperless digital innovations will likely accelerate exponentially in East Africa and across the entire continent.”

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