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South African Bloofold Launches to Offer Merchants Alternative Payments Rail 




South African startup Bloofold is rolling out an alternative payments rail for spaza shop and tavern owners in a bid to make receiving payments easier and cheaper.

Founded by Thabang Kekana and based in Johannesburg, Bloofold is a fintech startup deploying an alternative banking and payments rail into rural areas and townships via a merchant-initiated payments application that works on any mobile device.

This app comes with inventory management and a free mobile till point of sale (PoS), and accepts payments through push notification or NI-USSD payments. The solution dates from 2017 when he first launched a prepaid programme, for his grandparents in a rural area of in Limpopo, to circumvent the inconvenient and dangerous traditional methods of sending and receiving money.

That eventually became Bloofold, which was founded in late 2019 and beta-launched in November of last year. Its apps and infrastructure allow merchants to accept payments using any mobile device, and are also equipped with behavioural rewards.

“The market we are targeting between spaza shops and taverns alone is worth over ZAR160 billion (US$11.3 billion), and 90 per cent of these transactions happen in cash,” Kekana told Disrupt Africa.

“Bloofold is introducing a safer and cheaper option to pay, with high rewards and the ability to borrow against the wallet. We are offering this technology at no cost for businesses to integrate our APIs if they wish and remove the curse of having to scuffle with the traditional banking system before rolling out a platform.”

Payments are free until a merchant reaches a certain threshold in monthly sales, at which point fees can go as high as 0.55 per cent per transaction. The bootstrapped Bloofold has received positive feedback from its beta merchants, and is busy adding more features ahead of a full rollout in July.

“The most exciting feature is our RIVR rewards, which will allow them to borrow money against their wallets, get rebates and discounts,” said Kekana.