DA WC welcomes innovative adoption of cashless payment methods within township economies

17 Oct 2022 in Where We Govern

Over the past four days, I have visited pioneering programmes and initiatives which are driving the uptake of cashless online payment methods within the township economy. These projects include the Khayelitsha Bandwidth Barn and Bitcoin Ekasi in Mossel Bay.

In a study conducted by MasterCard, it was explained that many developing countries, including South Africa, are highly dependent on cash-based financial transactions which contributes to having a more sluggish economy.

That is why I have been engaging with innovative township-based programmes which are promoting the adoption of cashless and online financial payments, and I have further submitted questions to Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger, on her department’s efforts to enable SMMEs to adopt cashless payments, and the benefits this has held for these businesses.

The first project I visited was Khayelitsha Bandwidth Barn (KBB) which offers a space where locals can enhance their skills and access resources to expand their business operations through digital means. Since its launch in 2015, more than 500 entrepreneurs and SMMEs have been supported by KBB.

The KBB highlighted that there is increasing adoption of online payment methods within the township economy. Most notably, many businesses are using the eWallet and Send Money transaction platforms backed by FNB, highlighting the important role online financial tools can play in the township economy.

The importance of digital education also cannot be overstated. It is a prerequisite to fully take part in today’s economy and offers a new pathway to entrepreneurship for innovative individuals and businesses.

With that in mind, I also visited Bitcoin Ekasi in Mossel Bay, an NPO that is enabling the adoption of Bitcoin by local township SMMEs, as well as educating residents on this new technology. It does so by using the innovative custodial Satoshi e-wallet, which allows you to simply scan a QR code and send Bitcoin over the Lightning Network.

Last week Bitcoin Ekasi launched its education centre in JCC Camp informal settlement, which not only offers a safe space to children but also educates children and residents on the adoption of Bitcoin as a currency.

Bitcoin Ekasi has supported over 10 local spaza shops to accept Bitcoin as payment – with further adoption expected. The project further ensures that approximately 40 children from the JCC Camp receive a meal every single day.

The township economy is one of the areas where economic development has historically been slow, and I welcome initiatives that make it easier for our residents to accelerate business growth and create jobs.