FNB acquires local fintech company Selpal to assist township businesses

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South African bank FNB has acquired Selpal, a local fintech company that operates specifically in townships and rural sectors of the economy. The acquisition reaffirms FNB’s commitment to financial inclusion in the country and is an extension of their support towards community-based businesses. 

FNB acquires fintech company Selpal to accelerate financial inclusion in townships

Jacques Celliers, CEO of FNB expresses the bank’s focus on supporting community-based businesses.  

“Community-based businesses have an important role to play in driving economic activity and creating employment opportunities in townships and rural areas in South Africa. As the banking sector, we can help facilitate this by accelerating financial inclusion through tailored financial services to elevate and develop these businesses. Given the nature and environment in which the businesses operate, this market has traditionally been classified as ‘informal’ because it predominantly operates in cash – which in turn undermined the sophistication, scale, and potential of such community-based businesses.”

Selpal

Founded in 2012 by Stephen Goldberg, Selpal offers a point-of-sale device and tech platform aimed at township businesses.

Using the platform businesses can sell things like airtime and electricity to customers. In addition, customers that use the system can score loyalty points which can be used to purchase products sold by various businesses using the system. 

The featured wallet system allows business owners to pay suppliers in credit rather than cash. 

The acquisition

With a POS (point-of-sale) device, Selpal merchants are able to view, order, pay and sell stock without leaving their shop. 

The acquisition of Selpal by FNB will enable the bank to leverage its collective current cash handling infrastructure to enable Selpal to seamlessly facilitate payments between stakeholders in the supply chain. 

Celliers highlights that the acquisition will assist the bank in providing a range of new products and services to businesses in the informal sector. 

“We aim to bridge this gap by continuing to enable community-based businesses easy access to banking practices and money management solutions to help them realise their goals. This will be achieved by unlocking several benefits such as increased access to electronic payments, funding (working capital), access to suppliers and customers, amongst others,” adds Celliers.

This is a solution that ensures security and convenience for all parties involved in the supply chain process. 

Gordon Little, Business CEO of FNB provides insight into what the acquisition means.  

“As part of our broader strategy, we are dedicated to help support small businesses that are predominantly cash-based and operate in a less formal manner. Our latest acquisition and integration of Selpal complements the significant milestones we have reached in executing on this strategy. Selpal already has a footprint supported by an integrated system that connects informal retailers such as spaza shops with FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) suppliers, wholesalers, and manufacturers. Their user-centric digital platform was designed and built using direct observations, engagements, and understanding of the pain-points that various users experience along the entire FMCG supply chain in the informal sector, from manufacturer to consumer.”

Data collected from Selpal’s POS devices will enable the bank to gather data and insight to develop products and solutions for the informal sector. 

“This will further enable us to make better-informed credit and product decisions, making it easier to facilitate lending through the ability to measure performance, track and gather information on the business’ activity over a reasonable time period. As our knowledge and understanding of this market matures, we will be able to provide more value to these valuable small businesses in the future,” adds Little.

This includes card/QR payment acceptance, access to credit and various insurance products, and more. In essence, the acquisition will assist FNB to grow and develop community-based businesses.

“For example, FNB recognises that the spaza shop, which is arguably the oldest form of small merchant business in South African townships, is an integral part of the community economy and our objective is to incentivise these entrepreneurs that run these types of businesses to adopt more formal financial services. As an example, this could include objectives such as increasing the level of card/QR payment acceptance at spaza stores for consumers to pay at, which ultimately benefits both businesses and consumers. The journey involves helping businesses to get access to financial education and skills, access to funding and access to markets,” adds Little.

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Read more: Accelerator for African tech startups opens applications 

Featured image: Government ZA via Flickr

Ishani Chetty: Editor
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