Zimbabwean startup launches WhatsApp-based digital wallet for payments

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A Zimbabwean startup has launched a WhatsApp-based digital wallet to help unbanked foreign nationals in South Africa make payments.

Reginald Tsvetu is co-founder of Bitkesh, a platform launched in 2017 that uses cryptocurrency to help people send money back home, cutting out the need to visit an exchange bureau. 

In recent weeks the startup has spun out a new product, UhuruWallet. A WhatsApp-based digital wallet developed on the Stellar blockchain, UhuruWallet’s target market is primarily unbanked foreign nationals in South Africa.

Since launching its beta version, Tsvetu said UhuruWallet had received over 750 signups and was on its way to moving ZAR1 million (US$53,000) in its first month. It currently allows people to do things like send and receive money, and pay for DStv.

He said the launch of UhuruWallet had come at an opportune time as Bitkesh had begun to slow down. However, it has now started receiving a lot of traffic again post-launch and as a result of the COVD-19 national lockdowns.

“Bitkesh is now going to focus on payments in local currencies, like school fees, as well as acquiring corporate clients, since they accrue a lot of local currency but still need to make foreign payments,” Tsvetu said.

“Uhuru will be a more casual wallet for peer-to-peer transactions. People have already started testing the send money option with their recipients exchanging the balance for hard cash with other peers looking to make payments such as DStv, Avon and INUKA. We plan on spreading to the rest of the SADC region within six months.”

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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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