Our #CapePioneers series showcases innovative local businesses that adapted to build resilience in the face of COVID-19. This week we speak to PayFast.
“The tech industry thrives on challenges and disruption because it forces innovation.”
Founded in 2007 in Cape Town, Managing Director Jonathan Smit, had the vision to help online merchants grow their businesses. Today, PayFast is a leading online payment processing solution for individuals, non-profit organisations and businesses of all sizes. Over 65,000 merchants from a variety of South African businesses have registered with PayFast to process and manage online payments - spurring the growth of Africa’s largest online payments provider.
Positively contributing to the digital ecosystem
PayFast is dedicated to enabling the easy, secure and instant transfer of money to online merchants to help them succeed in the digital economy. Online payment features include: ‘Pay Now’ buttons; ‘Request a Payment’ feature (where merchants can request payment via email); and recurring billing options. PayFast’s newest feature is Split Payments, a first of its kind in South Africa, that splits a portion of an online payment with a third party.
They also have a dedicated Cause Index where all PayFast registered causes are provided with a free web page to promote their charity of choice and receive online donations.
Leadership in the digital ecosystem during COVID-19
During the COVID-19 lockdown, PayFast has been proactive in helping South African businesses stay afloat. Our marketing team actively sent out communication to PayFast merchants who were forced to shut down during lockdown, with advice on what they could do to generate cash flow, running online classes, and registering online voucher platforms that could be redeemed post-lockdown. PayFast was quick to partner with a number of voucher platforms including Find It Forward, Voucher Plan and Rally for Your Bar and Restaurant, on which hundreds of South African businesses registered.
We also ran a new sign up promotion in April, giving new merchants 20% off fees for the first 6 months to support their new online business ventures. A dedicated integration email hotline was set up to help new merchants get their PayFast account integrated with their online business.
Showcasing success stories and best practices as a business during the crisis
PayFast was deemed an essential service during lockdown. When the self-isolation measures were imposed, the PayFast management team were quick to ensure that employees had the necessary tools to work from home and, just as importantly, the right headspace and morale to stay focused.
PayFast’s Managing Director demonstrated excellent leadership, transparently communicating about policies implemented to make sure PayFast employees would stay healthy and productive.
The future of your business and the “new normal”
When lockdown was first implemented there were a number of hurdles that we had to overcome as a business, such as ensuring that all of our staff had an internet connection at home, and that everyone was equipped with a computer that had the PayFast VPN installed to access our servers. Overall, everyone was quick to adapt and focus on the work at hand in their new home environments. All of our in-person meetings and standups have moved virtually with the use of platforms like Google Meet and Zoom. Our employees have reported increased productivity and the preference to work from home more in the future. This could mean that we will consider a "hot desk" layout for our office instead of ensuring each employee has a dedicated desk. The shift will ease Cape Town’s heavy traffic burden, with a positive knock on effect for the environment.
Overcoming challenges during COVID-19
Some of the most popular businesses and tools were created as a solution to some specific challenges presented by the pandemic, it’s only a matter of time until new apps and business emerge from the ashes of the COVID-19 experience.
Why is Cape Town and the Western Cape perfect for your business
Cape Town has been PayFast’s Managing Director, Jonathan Smit’s, home for twelve years, and he can’t picture any other city where he would rather live. Cape Town is South Africa’s hub for innovation and the birthplace of countless startups that have made a name for themselves across the country and the globe. Situated in Claremont, our office boast beautiful mountain views, which not many cities can offer.
The plan for the next 5 years of tech in a changing world
PayFast has always been known for both its adaptability and agility, the future will be no different. While we continue to integrate further into our group, we will strive to ensure that our clients are receiving the best customer services and that their payments happen as effortlessly as possible. Our staff and technical systems will be core components to achieving our goals, and we will keep ensuring that they are the best.
For more information on PayFast, visit their website here.
Share your story of COVID-19 resilience with us and email firstname.lastname@example.org