Clayton Hayward of Ukheshe tells us about assisting key banks and telcos to address financial inclusion and offer customers digital payment solutions.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Clayton Hayward: We are grateful to be happy and healthy.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Ukheshe.
Clayton Hayward: I am a serial entrepreneur and have started 25 different businesses over the past 20 years. Always delving into technology, most of the businesses either offered or centered on technology. I am always looking for opportunities and have to say that launching Ukheshe almost three years ago has been the most exciting entrepreneurial journey to date. We have evolved the business into a key enablement provider in the digital payments space and are growing a global business, assisting key banks and telcos to address financial inclusion and offer customers digital payment solutions.
How does Ukheshe innovate?
Clayton Hayward: Ukheshe has developed Eclipse API (application programming interface) integration – a framework that is a ready-to-use set of digital services that can be deployed within four to 12 weeks. Ukheshe’s Eclipse API is one of the best examples of our ongoing evolution and enthusiasm for solutions that drive economic growth for the payments industry. Created to simplify payments, Eclipse provides access to payment technology, products, and services – all from one place. The goal of the platform is to provide a single API that encapsulates everything from customer and organization management to delivering digital wallets, payment gateways, card issuing, card acceptance, bank integration, authentication, Know Your Customer (KYC), QR Code acceptance/payments and numerous other capabilities required by most Fintech propositions. The role of innovative platform technology solutions became obvious when Ukheshe identified the importance of being able to grow and scale into different markets. At the same time, the value of forming strategic partnerships and acquisitions became very clear. Last year saw us acquire Oltio from Mastercard, the company that developed the digital payments platform for Masterpass, Mastercard’s QR code payments service. As the year progresses, our B2B approach will continue to inform key decisions around the growth and development of payment services and our role as a leading digital fintech platform provider.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Clayton Hayward: We witnessed a dramatic shift during the Covid-19 pandemic as consumers pivoted towards digital payments. Aside from the convenience of a digital-first approach, consumers now prefer to make contactless payments, and there is no end in sight in terms of this preference. Ukheshe has seen immense growth during the pandemic as a result of these factors and has taken enormous strides forward as a key digital fintech enablement provider.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Clayton Hayward: We were very fortunate to have grown immensely during the Pandemic. This did bring its own set of challenges as we onboarded so many new people while all working remotely, but we have put several mechanisms and programs in place to ensure that the team feels part of Ukheshe, and we are all working towards the same goal. The last few months have been an exciting chapter in Ukheshe’s growth and development. Our team continues to expand with the brightest talent in our industry who bring with them the extensive skills, knowledge, and experience to drive our regional and international ambitions. We are thrilled to have recently welcomed new members to our sales, support, and development teams. With our growing team, we are even more well-placed to meet the demands of our banking, telco, and fintech clients as we play a pivotal role at the forefront of innovative digital-first solutions. The inclusion of more skilled staff in our ranks also ensures we are able to develop and finely tune Ukheshe’s multitude of offerings in the future.
We recently announced the details of our global expansion plans, wherein apart from our regional African reach, we will focus on expanding into new geographies and establishing significant long-term partnerships in strategic locations within the Asia Pacific region, Europe, and the Middle East.
We already have a proud legacy as a formidable payment technology specialist, where our impact and contribution to the financial services industry has always far outweighed our size. As we set our sights on new markets, acquisitions, and numerous other promising opportunities, Ukheshe remains true to our core principles of teamwork and collaboration (to name just two) and to be the close family team we have always aimed for.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Clayton Hayward: None were needed. We have several key investors that understand and support the journey we are on.
Your final thoughts?
Clayton Hayward: Ukheshe is excited to be at the forefront of the rapid shift towards innovative digital-first solutions, especially in markets that are ripe for disruption.
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