Paving the Way for Open Banking in Africa with Ozow by Richie Santosdiaz for The Fintech Times
Fintech Middle East & Africa Paytech

Paving the Way for Open Banking in Africa with Ozow

There are over 49 million bank accounts in South Africa alone – users just need a convenient way to pay from them. Here comes Ozow – their secure online payments platform is leading payment innovation. Founded in 2014 by South Africans Mitchan Adams and Lyle Eckstein, together with long-time French expat in South Africa CEO Thomas Pays, the past few years has seen Ozow become a trusted payment brand among users who have developed a strong emotional attachment to the brand, empowering many to transact digitally for the first time.

Ozow acts as an additional layer of security to that of the existing banking infrastructure, keeping all transactions ultra-safe at all times and providing an environment that has proven to be safer than any other payment mechanism in the perspective of the merchant’s perspective. Once a payment has been confirmed, it is irrevocable, using a real-time digital instruction issued by the owner of the source account.

According to Ozow’s CEO and Co-Founder, Thomas Pays, “In a constantly changing global economy, traditionally dominated by large banks since 1472, (something which is unlikely to change in the coming decades), Ozow is positioned as a disruptor to challenge the status quo. Ozow is leading the way with an Open Banking platform in Africa, and the startling growth of the business over the past 6 years tells the story of a fast growing start up on the verge of taking the African continent by storm. As a market led company Ozow’s success has grown to see them capturing an entire market (representing over 70% of the instant EFT market in South Africa), from the heart of underprivileged townships and rural areas to the highest LSM. Users all note that the payment platform is a better, safer, and easier alternative to cards or a manual EFT payment.”

South African born Ozow with the Co-founders: Mitchan Adams, Thomas Pays and Lyle Eckstein
Ozow Co-founders: Mitchan Adams, Thomas Pays, Lyle Eckstein IMAGE SOURCE OZOW

Pays further adds, “Consumers, merchants, and banks in South Africa and Namibia now recognize Ozow as the quick and trusted way to make payments. As most people in the region go online mainly through their mobile devices (the same rings true for the rest of Africa) – and often pre-pay for airtime/data – transaction speed is essential. We commit to enabling payments in a few seconds.”

Ozow’s latest product release in the form of a world first, patent-pending innovation called the Ozow PIN has also resulted in increased growth of the business. This technology empowers a user to tokenize payment and make any repeat purchases with the simple entry of a 4-digit PIN. This innovation is already taking the lion’s share of the cash, card, and alternative payment options market by empowering users to transact anytime, anywhere online, or at point of sale, without the need for an app nor registration.

Ozow’s company values and the culture it has developed focuses on empowering its stakeholders and being impactful. In April last year Ozow introduced a “0% fees’’ campaign for NPO/NGO’s as well as SME’s, again leading the way in the market as a socially responsible business, by passing value on to entrepreneurs who often place their customer’s needs ahead of their own.

Furthermore, Pays adds, “Today, Ozow is a team of 50 + people who share a vision of bringing our fast and easy payment solutions to the African continent and ultimately the globe. Through Ozow, in a market where over ZAR9,7 trillion is transferred via “bank to bank” payments a year, well over 11 times the market share of card payments, the prospect of financial inclusion for all is virtually limitless. Our approach is completely open, and we want to partner with banks and other payments providers in each of the markets we enter. We’ve taken the time to make sure our tech is ready for scalability, and we believe that moment has now arrived.”

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