Pay it forward with the uKheshe app


Can you remember the last time you had cash in your wallet? You should, because these days, it’s a significant and unusual event with most payments going digital and even mall parking machines accepting cards. Thanks to a new app called uKheshe, though, you’ll now be able to tip car guards or pay newspaper salesman at traffic lights without having any cash on you.

Developed by South African startup Jini Guru, uKheshe (which means ‘cash’ in isiZulu) is a smartphone app that uses cards with QR codes to enable people to perform small transactions. Using the app you can tip pay anyone by scanning the QR code on a card you’ve given to them (or one they already have).

No smartphone required

The QR cardholder doesn’t need a bank account or a smartphone to receive money sent to them. Instead, the money is stored independently and can be accessed by sending USSD codes (the *<number># codes often used to load airtime vouchers or access network features), which means it’ll work on any feature phone (or better). Cash can either be withdrawn at Pick n Pay stores nationwide, or used to buy goods in them. [Update: At this stage, uKheshe doesn’t have any plans to expand beyond their partnership with Pick n Pay, as they have more than 10,000 outlets nationwide.]

“uKheshe was developed to provide the easiest and cheapest way to pay someone for services or to leave a tip for great service.” says Jason Penton, founder of uKheshe. “The recipient does not need a bank account, a simple cellphone capable of USSD will suffice.”

The app has two integral parts: a) the payer has to have the uKheshe app installed, and linked to their credit/debit card, and b) the recipient has to have an uKheshe QR card that’s linked to their cell number.

“With the app installed, the payer simply selects the amount they wish to pay, then scans the QR code, it’s that simple,” says Penton. “The recipient is able to check their balance and withdraw cash by using the USSD code *120*82274# following the instructions and visiting the nearest Pick n Pay store”.

App users can top up their uKheshe balance easily, so it’s easy to budget and not overspend on tips. On the other hand, the recipient has full control over their money received, and can even send it on to friends and family if they wish, also via USSD.

Pay to play

QR cards can be purchased on the uKheshe website for R5 per card, and they will be charged a flat rate of R5 a month if there is a positive account balance. Transactions will also cost a flat rate — R2 to buy food directly and R5 to draw money. Pre-loaded cards can also be purchased and distributed. [Update: uKheshe has confirmed that the QR cards don’t cost anything, only the preloaded cards — and online purchases include a shipping fee of R50. They have updated their website accordingly.]

Until 31 December 2018, five uKheshe app users will win a R5,000 donation for the charity of their choice. Prizes will be allocated to users who have made the most donations using their uKheshe app.

You can download the uKheshe app on both Android and iOS, and visit the website for more information or to purchase QR cards.

Update: We reached out to Regardt van der Berg for more information. If the recipient were to lose their QR card, no need to panic. The wallet is linked to their cell phone number, and a new card can easily be linked to the wallet through the USSD menu. Alternatively, a picture of the QR card (if the user has a camera-capable device), will suffice to receive payments. 


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Deputy Editor at Stuff. Nevermind the fancy title, I like writing about things that are cool. Like games, gadgets and sometimes even software. Depending on how cool it is.

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