Selpal comes to town?

WITH seven years operations in Gauteng, Selpal – a financial technology solutions (fintech) company that operates specifically in townships and rural sectors of the economy is now ready to spread its wings, and according to CEO, Stephen Goldberg, township traders and their customers could see this innovative FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) trading platform hit the Western Cape within the next 12 – 18 months.

“Understanding the FMCG informal market and being able to design a revolutionary route to market and cashless platform has been challenging to say the least!” admits Goldberg.

The concept was initially backed by a minority shareholding from FNB which turned into a 100% acquisition at the end of 2020, leading one to believe that after the seven year baptism of fire, FNB now believes the concept is mature enough and moreover opens up the huge potential of tapping into the informal market with its other products and services.

Goldberg explained that FNB over the last few years has made significant strides in supporting and becoming more relevant to community-based businesses. The tie-up with Selpal affirmed this commitment.

Tried and tested in Gauteng which boasts 60% of the national FMCG trade, Selpal’s footprint is supported by an integrated two pronged approach for business to business and business to customers. The clever system connects informal retailers such as spaza shops with FMCG suppliers, wholesalers and manufacturers.

From a business user experience perspective, Selpal merchants are equipped with a free Selpal POS (Point-Of-Sale) device that doesn’t attract fees yet enables them to view, order, and pay for and sell stock (including various value-added services such as airtime) without the merchant needing to leave their shop.

Considering the cash-intensive nature of this market, FNB is leveraging its collective current cash handling infrastructure to enable Selpal to seamlessly facilitate payments between stakeholders in the supply chain. This further solves a large challenge of security and convenience for all participants.

How it works

From the merchant’s perspective; once the Selpal device is implemented in store their Vault (an electronic wallet system developed by Selpal) and contains sufficient ‘cash’, the merchant can buy their usual inventory and pay for it cashlessly from their Vault, as well as sell other services such as electricity, gaming and airtime. A new customer wallet and loyalty programme is under development and follows a new and exciting B2C strategy.

Says Goldberg; “A fundamental part of this concept is to bring value to the informal trade, not extract value, that is why the device and its use – both with ordering stock and interacting with the customer – costs the trader precisely nothing and eliminates cash handling and its security issues. “Our income is through the well-established transactional fees system levied on wholesalers and suppliers.”

Concluded Goldberg, “If community-based businesses can see the value in what we are offering, we are confident that they will make use of our products and services, and in-turn, help increase the level of financial inclusion, adopting more formal financial services. This could include increasing the level card/QR payment acceptance at spaza stores which ultimately benefits both businesses and consumers. FNB’s relationship with Selpal involves helping businesses to get access – to financial education and skills, funding and access to markets” he said.

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