New cashless payment platform

A Nelson Mandela Bay-based tech company this week launched a payment platform that it hopes will broaden horizons for the “unbanked” and transform Port Elizabeth into the first cashless city in Africa.

FORUS Global Digital Exchange announced on Wednesday that it would be launching a platform that would provide access to banking through 4RealXchange, a digital currency matching the value of the rand.

Simply, users would be able to buy tokens to be loaded onto a smart card and use the card to transact.

FORUS has already engaged with local taxi association Laphumilanga with the goal of implementing the system for transport.

The platform would be rolled out over 90 days, with FORUS planning to introduce the system in 100 countries.

FORUS founder Sonny Fisher said the goal was to bring about economic empowerment for millions of people around the world.

“The objective is to spread prosperity and we’re convinced we can achieve it within a generation.”

Fisher said by using digital money, the company could provide free banking services while making its money through advertising.

“For this to work, it has to touch and include everybody. It is a challenge to launch a new payment platform; in the developing world [it competes] with cash, and in developed parts, with Visa and Mastercard.”

The smart cards with which users can transact will be sold widely, with 50,000 cards being made available for the city’s initial roll-out.

Users can sign up free of charge on the FORUS website and will receive shares in the form of Mahala Coin – a cryptocurrency developed by FORUS – while a once-off fee of R160 will give them access to further services and features on the platform.

Fisher’s larger vision includes providing production loans to small businesses through the company’s Cloud Funder venture – which in turn will be funded by JAAG Coin, an international digital currency launched in Dubai last month.

“We’ve created a comprehensive ecosystem, [but] you can’t pull off a payment revolution in one country; it has to be global,” Fisher said.

“We can be the provider of a solution [to empowerment] to the world.

This is not just a local problem. We have the solution – and the rest of the world is ready.”