How Eating Lunch In The US Inspired The Founding Of Yoco

It goes without saying that Fintech start-up, Yoco, has changed the game for many small businesses across South Africa in the last decade with its easy-to-use card payment machines.

The company currently processes million of transactions on a daily basis across the country and has plans in motion to expand on a global scale.

But a wait a second, where did all this come from?? Yoco didn’t exist in 2010 but now, its used by almost every small business you can think of, it has revolutionized the financial system and made the payment system much easier for small businesses.

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It was back in 2012, when Katlego Maphai as a management consultant, was visiting the US and Middle East in the telecom, media and technology sector, that he’d have his entrepreneurial spirit sparked for the first time.

Before that point, Katlego had not interest in entrepreneurship whatsoever and said if you had told him during his growing-up days that he’d be an entrepreneur heading a tech startup, he would laugh that off.

He got his business science degree from the University of Cape Town in 2005 and afterwards, took several jobs related to business consultancy. At that point, he thought he’d always remain a corporate rat.

However, a trip to the US and Middle East in 2012, shifted that whole perspective by a 360 degree. He was inspired by those countries urge to do extraordinary things.

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Lightbulb Moment

Whilst there, he went on a lunch with a friend of his at a BBQ eatery in San Francisco and when it was time to pay, Katlego thought cash would be used but to his surprise, the waiter pulled out an android phone, plugged it into a Square meter reader and his friend signed with his finger.

Katlego immediately saw that by being able to accept debit cards via a mobile phone, allowed the BBQ eatery to bill larger basket size. From that point on, he made it his mission to bring that to South Africa.

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Market Research

Upon returning to South Africa and doing market research, Katlego alongside 3 other co-workers who decided to join him, realized that while over 75-80% of adults had access to debit/credit cards, only about 250,000 businesses were able to accept this as a form of payment.

They also realized that numerous barricades were preventing small and micro merchants from getting card payments system from banks, with the top reasons being minimum monthly transactions volumes and also a requirement to have been trading for 6 months.

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Yoco launches….

Yoco was officially launched in 2014 by Katlego Maphai (Chief Executive Officer), Carl Wazen (chief business officer), Bradley Wattrus (chief financial officer) and Lungisa Matshoba (chief technology officer).

Yoco helps small businesses and micro merchants by offering payment tools. It offers multiple packages including card machines, online payments and also tools to help businesses in the Yoco app.

Late last year in October, the company introduced its standalone card machine called Yoco Neo, that doesn’t require any phone nor Bluetooth connectivity to allow payments.

Yoco Neo comes with a built-in sim card, unlimited data and battery, which allows the machine to perform all day long without no depency on data or WiFi.

The interesting thing about the Neo’s sim is that its equipped to roam and connect to the available network provider and can even process payments via 3 ways: chip&pin, swiping or tapping.

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In Closing

Today, Yoco processes over billons in transnation and it is the preferred digital payments solution to over 150,000 small and micro merchants across the country, with a mission of getting the number to a million in the coming 4 years.


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