Ukash, a digital money outfit that provides pre-paid coupons that can be redeemed for online products and services, is launching in South Africa as it looks to tap the country's large unbanked population.
The move comes a month after Gold Label Investments, a subsidiary of South Africa's Blue Label Telecoms, agreed to buy a 17.25% stake in Smart Voucher, which operates under the Ukash brand.
South Africans can now buy Ukash vouchers from terminals within the network of Blue Label Telecoms distribution channels.
The vouchers can already be spent at wantitall.co.za, the face of Amazon in the country, as well as social networking and music sites. The firm says it is looking to add more online retailers over the next few months.
Explaining the decision to enter the market, Ukash cites 2007 research from Finscope suggesting 40% of South Africans are unbanked.
"This has limited them from participating in the digital revolution and transacting online. It has also stopped online merchants from marketing to this segment, thus increasing the gap," says Mark Chirnside, CEO, Ukash.
"We saw a great opportunity in South Africa. There are currently no precedents in the market and this opens the door to online shopping for so many South Africans," he adds.