Ugandan startup Intelworld says it is “crossbreeding” m-commerce and fintech as it enables customers all over the world to buy products from Ugandan merchants.
Formed in 2014, Intelworld has developed a product called Xente, which allows customers from all over the world to buy products from Ugandan merchants and pay in installments with cards or mobile money.
On the supply side we have Ugandan merchants that want to sell online or by mobile. To date we have over 50 Ugandan businesses who deal in digital products like airtime recharge, bill payments, TV subscriptions and tickets, and we have enabled them to sell to over 3,000 customers in more than countries. In 2018 we shall start to incorporate merchants who sell physical products,” co-founder Allan Rwakatungu told Disrupt Africa.
“On the demand side we have consumers all over the world who buy the products and services offered by our merchants. Our unique value proposition is that not only can they prepay using digital payment methods like mobile money or bank cards, but they can also buy now and pay later, or pay in installments.”
Rwakatungu said it is this aspect that differentiates Intelworld from its competitors.
“The competition position themselves as purely convenient fintech platforms or purely m-commerce platforms, and the space is quite busy,” he said. “We are unique as we are a crossbreed of m-commerce and fintech, and I think our product offering is very exciting for the consumer and business segments we are targeting.”
Rwakatungu and co-founder Francis Nkurunungi came to Intelworld with significant track records. Rwakatungu has a background in telecoms and mobile financial services, having worked with MTN for six years, while Nkurunungi is a serial entrepreneur who has delivered work for the likes of MTN, Coke and Unilever.
The pair feel they are providing a service for a huge addressable market.
“999 out of 1,000 business in Uganda – and many African countries – do business in brick mortar locations and only accept cash. This has many disadvantages, like high operating costs and cash management issues, but the one we emphasise is a limitation to access to market,” said Rwakatungu.
“A brick and mortar business that only accepts cash can only operate in its locale. With Xente, a business transacts online and mobile and they have access to and get paid by customers from anywhere in the whole wide world.”
Quite a value proposition, while for technical businesses Intelworld provides APIs that can be used in their websites or apps to collect money from mobile wallets.
“On the consumer side, convenient digital payments using mobile money or credit/debit cards is not the only value driver for us. The ability to buy items from merchants and pay on credit is a game changer in a market where credit cards do not exist,” Rwakatungu said.
He is keen to stress that Intelworld is not a Silicon Valley-funded startup.
“We bootstrap. We got investment from three South African angels in 2016 but 99 per cent of the cash we have used has been generated by us. This is very difficult and we had to make great sacrifices and be creative to stay the course, but we are alive and kicking and growing. That said we are actively looking out for investors who will help us in this growth stage,” Rwakatungu said.
“We have doubled our volume every month for the last four months. I don’t want to brag, but I think we have a fantastic platform which is maturing nicely, and the user experience for consumers and businesses is fantastic and will get even better. We are now hyper focused on a specific niche in the market, and we look forward to what will happen next year.”