Kenyan startup Kopo Kopo, which provides mobile money merchant software, has launched a bulk payments service enabling organisations to schedule large numbers of payments in minutes.
Kopo Kopo, which launched in Kenya in February 2012 and enables merchants to accept payments through a variety of electronic methods, has made its “Payments Hub” service available to corporations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and small and medium enterprise (SMEs) operating in Kenya.
The company said the service is perfect for salary payments, supplier payments, expense reimbursements and a range of other uses, with payments debited from a customer’s Kopo Kopo account and credited to recipients via mobile money or bank transfer.
Fees for Payments Hub are tiered by volume, with the more a customer pays the smaller the fee due. Organisations that wish to integrate Payments Hub with a back-office system may be charged a custom integration fee, which will be assessed on an individual basis.
“We built Payments Hub because paying people should be simple – almost instant,” said Kopo Kopo chief executive officer (CEO) Dylan Higgins. “We built Payments Hub to make paying suppliers and employees simpler for ourselves, now we’re making it available for the rest of Kenya.”
Higgins said many of Kopo Kopo’s customers have been looking for something like this for years.
“Too many would spend countless hours each month manually processing payments. Just imagine yourself issuing one hundred checks by hand. With Payments Hub, it takes a few keystrokes,” he said.
Disrupt Africa reported in February Kopo Kopo was targeting the digitisation of one million businesses through its platform, with vice president of marketing Ben Lyon saying the company envisions a world in which merchants can manage their businesses from a single screen.
“We start by enabling a merchant to accept whatever electronic payment type their customer has,” he said.
“In Kenya, for example, we’ve enabled merchants to accept Airtel Money and Safaricom’s M-Pesa. Once that relationship is established, we start layering on value-added services like targeted SMS marketing, business-to-business payments, and unsecured merchant cash advances. These value-added services create an incentive for businesses to transition from cash and paper to a digital interface.”
Lyon said Kopo Kopo had essentially taken a lesson from the payment card industry and adapted it to suit mobile money in emerging markets.
“Specifically, a successful merchant strategy requires both excellent distribution and best in class software and services. We provide the latter,” he said.
“We’re unique insofar as our platform offers front-end merchant services, back-end ISO/acquirer tools, and lending marketplace logic. We have competitors within each specific category, but not across our end-to-end stack.”
The startup has raised funding from both private equity and venture capital investors in Europe and the US, with its lead investors – Khosla Impact and Javelin Venture Partners – based in Silicon Valley. It currently operates in five markets across Sub-Saharan Africa and plans to be in at least two non-African markets by the end of 2015.