PRETORIA – MILLIONS of migrants have over the years fled economic and political problems and sought sanctuary in South Africa.
However, while most of the migrants, officially put at 1,7 percent of South Africa’s population of more than 51 million, have secure employment, sending money to sustain their families or communicate with their family members back home has always been an uphill task.
Thanks to Hello Paisa a a financial technology company,these migrants can now send money from South Africa back home and communicate with family members at affordable rates, while numerous jobs have been created.
Hello Group is the company behind the innovations that have given the millions of migrants peace of mind, hence its popularity among those members of the community when it comes to financial technology and telecommunications services.
Among its services that are growing at a phenomenal rate include Hello Paisa, a fast, secure and efficient way to send money internationally from South Africa.
“The foundations of Hello Paisa are based on understanding the customer. These are the most hardworking, ambitious and energetic individuals who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
“These migrants have moved tens of thousands of kilometers from their loved is search of a better life,” says Hello Paisa Managing Director, Ahmed Cassim.
He says in the eleven years of existence, the group had exceeded even its own expectations in the communication and now in the international money transfer business.
The group, according to Cassim, was founded with problems migrants faced working in South Africa, in mind.
South Africa currently hosts millions of foreign nationals mainly countries such Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.
Proceeds that these migrants send back home are vital to their respective countries’ communities.
“Hello Group was founded to service the needs of the migrant communities. This is for basic services which no one was looking after. If I can back to to 2005, the only way that international calls could be made was through telecom phone boxes,” said Cassim.
“We started with various products to service this need of calling back home and eventually the product evolved into a Hello Mobile sim card that it is today.
Hello Mobile was started after the company secured a licence from the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).
The product was launched in 2010 in partnership with South Africa’s third largest mobile network operator, Cell C, and today it is the undisputed leader in international phone calls from South Africa to the rest of the world.
“It is a prepaid SIM card that allows migrants to make cheap international phone calls. It is the cheapest solution for many countries around the world and we have seen huge adoption,” said Cassim said.
Once the mobile SIM card business started to pay off, Hello Group initiated the distribution of the SIM cards in the process empowering thousands of entrepreneurs, whom they pay R30 million per year in commission.
“We believe in empowerment,” says Cassim in an exclusive interview with Gauteng Guardian newspaper.
The people who register customers get commission of around R30 million per year.
While in 2012, hundreds of thousands of subscribers were using the Hello Mobile SIM cards, a research on how these immigrants were sending money back home gave Hello Group a fright.
“The result of this research was quite shocking. They were using illegal, informal channels, very expensive lack of transparent pricing, and lots of delays,” Cassim says.
Subsequently, in 2013 the group approached the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) to initiate a service to enable migrants send money through legal channels.
“That was the start of Hello Paisa. It took us 18 months to get the licence and in February 2015, Hello Paisa, was launched. The product has had a phenomenal impact in the industry,” Cassim adds.
According to global statistics, people are sending money home at 7,5 percent rate. In South Africa, people are generally charged 16 percent.
Hello Group’s offering charges 5 percent.
“That is an equivalent just R5 for R100 sent. That has attracted customers for us and we now service more than 20 countries in Africa and Asia” Cassim says.
In line with the phenomenal growth, Hello Group does marketing in different languages that suit customers’ respective languages. It markets in nine different languages.
“For example, for Zimbabwe we use Shona, Malawi (Chichewa), Mozambique (Portuguese) and Asians like Chinese we market in their language because we believe in effective communication. In this regard, we hire migrants from these countries who do business in their home languages. It is customised marketing,” said Cassim.
To further satisfy its clients, Hello deals directly with reputable and trusted companies in their homeland.
“This has endeared us with customers who feel that their money is in safe hands with us and they trust us,” adds Cassim.
Hello has been recognized in South Africa and the continent for its commitment to empower migrants.
Among the accolades are the Kalahari Award for Best Mobile-centric Remittance Service and Sanlam Innovator of the Year and the Medium Business of the Year and the Ernst &Young Southern Africa World Entrepreneur Award.
In May, Hello Paisa, the low cost international money transfer company, was named the leading fintech company in Africa at the Swift Innotribe conference held in Mauritius.
African Diaspora Forum (ADF) President, Marc Gbbaffou, says about Hello Group support to the migrant community went beyond enabling affordable cash transfers or international calls.
“We are grateful. I remember between 2009 and 2010, they gave our organization some money to pay rent and electricity. It is good that they are ploughing back into the communities they do business with,” says Gbbaffou.
Human rights advocate and Zimbabwe Exiles Forum leader, Gabriel Shumba, hails the diversity of the financial services to enrich the market and
obtain better services.
“The existence of Hello Group provides for a financial scheme that has a low interest rate. Thus, competition remains of the essence between Mukuru, Mama Money, Moneygram and now Hello Paisa,” adds Shumba.
– CAJ News