SA’s Airbuy launches e-commerce payment gateway


South African startup Airbuy has rolled out its alternative payment gateway that allows e-commerce sites to accept payments without their customers exposing their banking details.

Birthed at MIT GSL 2016 and launched officially at last year’s DEMO Africa event in Johannesburg, Airbuy aims to give Africans the freedom to trade online without being at risk of cybercrime.

The Airbuy platform does not require users to put in their banking details, as it uses digital tokens known as Airbucks to allow users to make payments on participating e-commerce sites.

Airbucks can be topped up by direct EFT, and in the near future, via mobile banking, airtime conversion, and bitcoin. Users can also earn Airucks through promotions in marketing campaigns. Airbuy users can also share Airbucks with other users by transferring them digitally.

“Our advantage is circumventing the inputting of financial information where many potential purchases drop off. Users cannot withdraw the money they’ve put in, they can only spend it online,” co-founder Njabulo Makhathini said.

“All current payment options available in the market require the consumers to have a credit card or a debit card at least, which has proven to be very risky with the growth of CNP (card not present) related crimes.”

Launching at DEMO Africa was a strategic move, since one of Airbuy’s objectives at the conference was to create connections and networks across Africa.

“Our top priority right now at Airbuy is coverage, ensuring that our payment button is in as many checkout carts as possible to make it easier for users when they want to use our option,” Makhathini said.

“We currently have a footprint in South Africa with 56 e-commerce sites that we are busy integrating with our button. We are targeting to increase this number in the next six months, signing up more e-commerce platforms and in-app purchase for gaming apps in South Africa and other African countries by plugging into startup networks and tech hubs across Africa.”


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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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