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Mukuru extends footprint across Southern Africa

By , ITWeb

Africa-focused remittance and money transfer services provider Mukuru is extending its physical presence and agent network across Southern Africa.

According to a statement released by the company, its successful deployment of Orange booths in the region underscores the true scalability of the Mukuru payments platform, which in turn, is being supported by the digitisation of key Mukuru functionalities.

Mukuru adds that despite the economic and political hardships in the region, which have been deepened by the global pandemic, its remittance flows across African borders have remained remarkably resilient in recent months – “highlighting not only the growing trust in both physical and digital money transfers, but also the lifeline that remittances are providing to many families and communities at this time.”

Andy Jury, CEO of Mukuru.
Andy Jury, CEO of Mukuru.

Andy Jury, CEO, Mukuru, said: “As we grow our physical footprint in Southern Africa and bring our services to more people by way of booths and an entrepreneurial agent network, this growth is being complemented by the progressive digitisation of key steps in the Mukuru payments process.”

“With more and more digital access points over USSD, WhatsApp and the Mukuru App, for instance, customers are becoming increasingly comfortable with things like self-sign up, including digital KYC and onboarding, which is not only raising our brand presence, but is shifting customers that much closer to financial inclusion and higher levels of financial transaction sophistication.”

For instance, since the early days of the global pandemic and social restrictions in South Africa, almost half of Mukuru’s new SA sign-ups have come via digital self-sign up - indicating the appetite and need for such a capability.

African DNA

As a home-grown African Fintech provider, Mukuru has underpinned its successful customer engagement strategy with the ability to ‘speak the language’ of its users, so to speak, and gain a grassroots understanding of the unique pain points that customers face in each market.

Notably, customers are always able to talk to a Mukuru agent about any challenges or difficulties with the platform, whether it be a Mukuru agent in a booth, in a branch, over the telephone or via a virtual live chat function (in a language of the customer’s choosing, and often in their mother tongue).

“There is a balance that has to be achieved as a Fintech provider that is both ‘high tech’ and ‘high touch’, particularly because Mukuru has been built on top of a home-grown African DNA that has always taken its cue from what customers are asking of us at any given moment,” said Jury. “In this way, by constantly gaining customer feedback and participation, we have been able to build a highly robust and resilient financial payments infrastructure across Southern Africa – with our physical presence now unlocking new value in the digital sphere and providing important, value-added services to our loyal customers.”

Testament to this impact, Mukuru has seen a 20-fold increase in monthly transactions within Zimbabwe over the past few months, for instance, as well as impressive year-on-year financial growth despite the global economic volatility.

This growth has been cemented by dynamic regional partnerships, and strengthening relationships with regulators, major banks and other remittance and money transfer providers.

“Our partnerships continue to be a source of both innovation and steady growth in the region, with our home-grown technology solutions continually evolving to meet the day-to-day needs of our customers,” added Jury. “We meet customers wherever they are, which today includes a variety of both physical and digital touchpoints.”

At the beginning of November, Jury noted that despite predictions that global remittances will decline because of the pandemic, formal remittance flows across borders have increased.

“Despite the World Bank’s predictions that global remittances will decline by around 20% in 2020 as a result of the global pandemic and its economic fallout, evidence in countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia suggest that formal remittance flows across African borders have actually increased – and are proving to be more resilient (and buoyant) than many other financial services,” said Jury.

“Notably, the GSMA affirmed that ‘remittances are expected to retain or even exceed their current levels of importance with FDI flows into LMICs expected to decline by as much as 35% over 2020.’ There are many reasons behind the fact that formal African remittances continue to flow, chief among them the undeniable reality that this money provides a lifeline to many thousands of families and communities. Indeed, remittances are channelled into daily groceries, seeds for subsistence crops, school fees, home repairs, medical supplies and much more,” he added.

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