Founded in 2007 with a vision to replace wallets with mobile phones, the wigroup have seamlessly grown from Start-up to Fintech powerhouse. Located in South Africa, the group offers solutions to point-of-sale mobile transactions using self-created platform known as the Wicode. Using Wicode, retailers across sectors are able to accept any form of mobile currency payment via a Wigroup point of sale device.
In the 10 years since its launch, the group has facilitated the processing of over $420 billion dollars worth of transactions with devices LIVE in more than 65,000 till lanes across Africa. Speaking on its success, founder Bevan Ducasse recalls early beginnings of the group.
“I was 23 at the time, and walked around with this huge folder of ideas that I’d kept for four years prior to the creation of the group. I would revisit the ideas to try to build business plans and models and I’d try to figure out which ones would work and which ones wouldn’t.” He says.
After speaking to local Engineer Bartholomew Cock on his plans to create what would eventually become the WiGroup, both were able to build together one of the world’s first mobile transaction payment system.
Initially, the group’s device allowed South Africans to buy coffee with their phones before Apple pay ever existed, however the concept failed to materialise. At the time and realising he may have entered the market too early, Bevan stressed the role timing can play as an important factor in a successful launch.
“We actually bought our first coffees from our phones in 2008, so we were way ahead of the apple pays and other players in the game to launch a mobile payment app on the market.” He says.
“As with every idea, we knew we had to be agile and adapt to change based on what the market needs were. For us, we looked at the market and found out that the biggest challenge facing the growth of mobile use in the future, was dependent on the retailer’s ability to integrate all the different mobile transactions that take place. This is how we came up with WiGroup’s model.”
“Although the concept was great, it worked against us at that stage. The concept we had of Wigroup needed users to download apps which at the time were not in huge numbers. Very few people knew about the app store – even fewer understood the app concept.That led to us failing because we were too early.”
Refusing to give up and after having won the backing of several investors, Ducasse and his team later regrouped to reform the Wigroup. This time however, the groups attempts were successful.
“We were really sitting on gold but it was about harvesting the idea and taking it internationally, as nobody at the time did what we were doing.”
Aside from its headquaters in South Africa, the group has expanded into Europe, Ghana, Namibia and Nigeria, with staff numbers still growing. So far the group’s technology is used in: Health and Beauty, Hospitality, Banking, Petroleum, and Credit Card retailers. Major clients of the Wigroup include Unilever, MTN, Burger King to name a few.
In 2015, with the belief that the group had considerable scope to take off in emerging markers such as Africa and South America, the group secured the backing of super giant asset management firm Investec who acquired significant number of shares in the group.
Although the firm faces competition, the unique selling point for Wigroup is that it is able to integrate its mobile transactions to relevant loyalty and reward cards provided by a retailer within an app.
Having won several awards including the ‘Vision to Reality’ entrepreneurship programme awarded by prestigious firm Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC), we are sure there’s more to come for the Wigroup.
To find out more on the Wigroup, visit: