Uhuru WhatsApp Wallet | Terence Zimwara
In a different article, we showed why Zimbabwe prioritizes remittances and how this helps to get foreign currency flowing into the formal economy.
In the same article, we also explained why a substantial portion of remittances is not captured in official records. A great number of Zimbabweans working in South Africa are “undocumented.”
This means these migrants do not possess identification particulars that are recognized by their host government. A lack of such documents precludes them accessing financial services offered by banks and other institutions.
Furthermore, undocumented migrants cannot make online payments or make cross border money transfers.
Currently, this demographic group is confined to cash-based transactions which limit the number of goods and services they can buy. In South Africa, security and money laundering concerns force businesses that handle high-value transactions to insist on non-cash payment methods.
Therefore, an undocumented migrant must find an alternative solution that allows them to make online payments.
Yet, this unfortunate situation for migrants should be seen as a challenge and perhaps a call to action. Naturally, any option that lowers the barrier to accessing financial services, particularly
for foreign nationals, is something that should be incentivised.
Until recently, this seemed an impossible task.
Yet, with the emergence of decentralized blockchain networks it has now become possible for online payments and the cross border remittance space to be disrupted.
Both individuals and merchants can potentially benefit from the solutions introduced by some fintech start-ups.
In West African countries like Nigeria for instance, the emergence of blockchain-based remittances solutions like the Yellow Card application proves that this technology is an important breakthrough.
Nigerians in Diaspora now simply have to acquire bitcoin—a borderless digital currency—which they then convert to the Naira currency on the Yellow Card platform.
After conversion, the money is sent to directly and instantly to a bank account nominated by the sending party.
Now a South Africa based start-up, Yolft Technology has also created a platform that offers a transaction account to Zimbabwean as well as other African migrants.
Known as Uhuru wallet, this platform enables migrants to make payments and send tokens within and across the South African border.
Anchored on the Stellar Blockchain, the Uhuru wallet allows users to pay for utilities, popular pay television like Dstv as well as mobile phone airtime for over 200 service providers worldwide.
More payment options for services like Uber and Netflix are being arranged.
The blockchain technology is once again proving it can uplift this marginalised demographic group by giving it access to goods and services normally reserved for documented citizens.
Going forward, the benefits of a technological breakthrough like this will potentially go beyond the direct benefits observed so far.
Migrants will feel less like second class citizens while South Africa authorities will be happy to have migrants participating in the formal economy.
Meanwhile, merchants running WhatsApp business based enterprises also stand to benefit as they can get listed among a group of service providers within the wallet.
Also, Zimbabwe-based Uhuru users can make payments directly to merchants in South Africa. This can be done with either the Zimbabwe dollar, the South African Rand or USD.
Paying directly eliminates extra costs and risks associated with the use of intermediaries.
Founded by Zimbabwean natives, Yolft Technology’s Uhuru transaction wallet aims to help financially marginalised migrants to gain access to exchange value in the form of tokens.
Reginald Tsvetu, Chief Marketing Officer at Yolft Technologies reiterates their vision as he said this:
“Users can purchase consumer products and services and make online payments, perform recurring transactions such as utility bill payments and airtime purchases using Uhuru tokens.”
In the meantime, Uhuru users need not understand everything about the blockchain or cryptocurrencies. The platform has simplified everything from conversion to crypto from fiat and the transfer of funds.
The Uhuru wallet is the latest example of a practical use case of blockchain technology.
Furthermore, the use of the Stellar blockchain—a network designed to provide an internet level protocol for payments—means Uhuru can potentially disrupt the regional payments space.
Hopefully, as this type of fintech will gain a foothold quickly enough. Traditional remittances businesses will find that it will be in their best interests to review exorbitant charges downwards.
Failing to adapt might see them losing their share of the market and ultimately being driven out.
In the meantime, the choice of a Whatsapp based transaction wallet means this technology will be available to many. This increases the chances for greater adoption of this particular solution.
It remains to be seen how a long marginalised migrant community will see this solution. However, indications suggest this should gain wider adoption.
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