SA fintech startup launches SMS invoicing and payment portal

We love ecommerce more than the next group of nerdy technophiles, but even we’d have to concede that the vast majority of Africans aren’t likely to be buying stuff online any time soon. And a good part of the problem is all the things that helped to make online shopping ubiquitous overseas aren’t quite working here yet. From verifiable addresses to convenient ways to pay for a society which still deals mostly in cash, bricks and mortar shopping isn’t going anywhere soon.

Which is why payment gateway Peach Payments latest service made us sit up and take note. The young startup, which processed R1.5 billion-worth of transactions in its third year of operation, has been trialling Peach PaySafe over the last few months. This new service allows small businesses to generate an invoice that’s sent via email or SMS, and then takes customers directly to an online page for payment.

It may not sound revolutionary, but Peach co-founder Rahul Jain says that it’s the ease of use is what’s been missing for many merchants both online and off. Business owners don’t need to integrate PaySafe with a website or accounting package, they just login, create and invoice and receive payments through the PaySafe homepage. For those who need it, there’s a full suite of APIs and the company is in talks with two providers of accounting software to embed payment links into invoices generated on other platforms.

“The biggest challenge that businesses have today is getting paid,” says Jain. “The SME wants to make it easier for customers to pay them, but a lot of existing options can be expensive.


“So we built a platform so customers can plug in, send an invoice or SMS, one click to go to payment gateway.”

Jain says that the company has focussed on supporting 3D Secure payments via traditional cards, and is proud of the fact that they were able to stay online throughout Black Friday last year, but they will also support other payment mechanisms – like mobile money – as they become more popular.

For those who don’t have a bank account or credit card, Jain says he’s also talking to shops that provide bill payment services to receive payments into a Peach account. That could give merchants the ability to sell online but receive cash, potentially opening up a huge new market for internet shopping.