"We saw a great opportunity in South Africa," says Mark Chirnside, CEO of Ukash. "There are currently no precedents in the market and this opens the door to online shopping for so many South Africans."
Chirnside bases his statement on factual research - according to a 2007 survey conducted by Finscope, 40 percent of South Africans are unbanked. "This has limited them from participating in the digital revolution and transacting online," says Chirnside. "It has also stopped online merchants from marketing to this segment, thus increasing the gap."
After recognising the opportunity, Ukash, in partnership with Blue Label Telecoms, decided to launch Ukash in South Africa as part of a joint strategic venture.
Chirnside adds that "by exposing the larger part of the population to shopping online, we hope to bring both commercial and social benefits, all the while increasing the chances of socio-economic progress."
To kick things off, consumers can purchase Ukash vouchers from a wide selection of terminals within the network of Blue Label Telecommunication distribution channels. Consumers can then use the code found on the vouchers when making their online purchase.
"No banking cards or ID numbers are required in the purchasing process," says Chirnside. "This allows people of any age and from all walks of life, to enjoy the convenience and choice that comes with online shopping, without having to worry about fraud and building up that credit card debt every month."
As from this (November) month, Ukash vouchers can be spent at a number of top online retailers, and can also look forward to using their Ukash at more top retailers such as 1time airlines and social networking and music sites in the coming months. And with South African regulation of online gambling now in sight, the vouchers could be used on these sites as well.
"Ukash has a long history of expansion into new territories and consistent success in securing a solid network of online merchants accepting Ukash," boasts Chirnside. "We aim to maintain and grow the existing business while bringing the Ukash solution to other markets worldwide. We will continue to partner with e-wallets as the top-up method of choice. We will also further establish ourselves as the preferred prepaid payment solution for the savvy online customer."
The Ukash move comes a month after Gold Label Investments, a subsidiary of South Africa's Blue Label Telecoms, agreed to buy a 17.25 percent stake in Smart Voucher, which operates under the Ukash brand.
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