As a consequence of the global COVID-19 pandemic, companies and individuals have had to rapidly adapt to the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) to remedy the unprecedented socioeconomic challenges faced by consumers.
A key facet of 4IR is a shift towards digitisation, and the vulnerable communities across the globe find themselves trailing even further behind in their endeavour for financial equity as a result.
The migrant community in South Africa
Migrants and foreign nationals trapped in the cash economy, who utilise analog means of transacting funds, are the hardest hit as lack of access to cash means that they are rendered unable to support their families both locally and abroad to make ends meet.
The festive season in particular is a capital intensive time for consumers. To provide for their families, many find themselves using informal methods to send essential goods, groceries and money home.
Digitisation is challenging how fintech agencies engage with and empower their customers; more so now than ever, technological transformation needs to be made available to the underserved.
Historically, the migrant community in South Africa has typically been excluded from traditional financial avenues, never mind technological advancements when it comes to managing and sending cash, goods and groceries. Organisations have a mandate to keep consumers at the centre of what they do.
Domestic fintechs who’ve been working closely with expatriates living in South Africa for over a decade have seen fintechs grow to understand the unique pain points of their consumers and have constructed services around creative, diversified solutions to not only solve their problems but to keep traditionally underserved at the forefront of technological advancements.
To expand the opportunities of the financially excluded, these organisations initiated initiatives such as halving costs for international money and goods-based remittances on every transaction, and an expanding the goods-based remittance service in Zimbabwe were instituted.
In addition, those involved in financial institutions offered free digital banking accounts to make transacting as seamless and cost-effective as possible.
During this time grocery remittance fintechs extended product suites to transcend just groceries: now offering kitchen appliances such as stoves and microwaves, school uniforms, electronics, hardware, cutlery and crockery, bedding, medication and farming products such as seeds and fertilizer.
The mission is to provide a one-stop, holistic goods remittance services that are at the same cost as – if not cheaper than – a consumer purchasing at stores in Zimbabwe.
There is an essential education game to play in acclimatising the underserved to a digital-first approach to financial inclusion, and this begins with customer-centricity and efficient service delivery.
This has placed the business in an opportune position to serve as a starting point for innovation and can capitalise on modern ideas to rebuild the economy and rewrite the digital narrative where rural and informal communities are concerned.