The transition to a cashless society is underway in some parts of the world, but South Africa and other emerging markets remain a “cash-full society”, characterized by various businesses and industries where cash is still king.
South Africans are not opposed to digital transactions; however, the majority still rely on cash transactions. The cash problem is not only an external or environment-based issue, people still have a deep sentimentality associated with cash. While technology may offer us a new convenience, it also requires a behavioral change in consumers, which they may not be willing to accept.
CliqueFin, a South African fintech company, recognizes this conundrum and is geared to fast-tracking digital adoption in the country, by understanding the pain points of the cash customer and addressing these through innovative solutions.
A cash problem
For many, there is no substitute for cold, hard cash. Paying in cash is a routine, tried and tested payment method. When doing market research, cash-biased individuals often cite the fact that using cash gives them greater control over their spending and money in general, reducing the possibility of overspending or overindebtedness.
For others, it is the perceived privacy and tangibility that cash provides, which stems from a possible mistrust of the banking system and the desire to protect oneself from the many online scams that prey on people’s financial illiteracy or naivety. Ultimately, for the cash-biased, they believe that their money is safest when it is in their hands, pockets, or purses.
As a local fintech, CliqueFin’s goal is to create financially empowered communities and ensure a dignified living for all. “Our unique approach to financial inclusion starts with digitizing cash for use online as well as digitizing occasions that are meaningful to the cash customer,” says CEO Tony Reddy. Furthermore, CliqueFin creates platforms via which cash customers can access products, services and opportunities that were previously out of reach.
As Reddy explains, “Those who are cash-biased pay a cost for this preference with their time, transport, and associated risks. If saved, this cost would increase household liquidity and improve the quality of lives”.
When engaging with some of its clients, CliqueFin discovered that following the unrest in July last year, several ATMs in various neighborhoods were destroyed, forcing residents to travel further afield whenever they needed to withdraw money.
“This presents its own set of challenges, such as having to pay for extra transportation, contending with machines that are often out of service or out of cash, and then making it home safely, because people seen waiting in an ATM line are often prime targets for criminals,” notes Reddy.
The challenges outlined by CliqueFin’s clients are faced by countless other South Africans across the country. Instead of simply instructing cash users to change their behavior, CliqueFin has invested in solving the problems that people in this market face by addressing their pain points and developing innovative platforms that respond to their financial needs.
For example, Nhlapo Supermarket, located in Katlehong, Johannesburg, is among the roughly 96,000 retailers that vend CliqueFin products.
Nhlapo explains how the initiative has assisted his business. “One of my favourite features of the system is that immediately after I provide a customer with their cash, the value I have just dispensed reflects on my machine, which saves me the time and trouble of having to go to the bank. Also, once customers have collected their remittances, because they are already here, they use my supermarket to purchase their groceries and household goods, which has improved my profitability. It’s amazing how a simple change can have such a great effect.”
“At CliqueFin, our ethos is to ensure financial inclusion by developing solutions that bring convenience to the doorstep of cash-biased customers without them having to rearrange their lifestyles or incur any extra costs. By doing this, we’re allowing customers to transact in a way that suits them. We’re eager to collaborate with businesses that share this vision and together I believe we can build a life-changing legacy for many South Africans,” adds Reddy.