How Rwanda’s HeptaPay links debit cards with mobile money accounts

Rwandan startup HeptaPay lets users transfer money from their debit or credit cards to mobile accounts in East Africa.

origin of HeptaPay The founders of data analytics company Hepta Analytics sought a personal finance solution for expats in Rwanda using micropayments in the country from their Kenyan accounts.

“It wasn’t long before the idea of ​​simple, fast and secure cross-border micropayments resonated with many others,” Emmanuel Chebukati, one of these founders, told Disrupt Africa.

The new product, HeptaPay, was officially launched in Rwanda in 2020, followed by Kenya and Burundi.

“For expatriates in East African countries, we noted that it is not economically viable to deposit $100 or less into their mobile wallets for small expenses, even though they earn money in their foreign bank accounts. Especially for African migrants, the cost is ridiculous, the system is very inconvenient and limited to mobile money,” said Chebukati.

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“That’s why we’ve decided to make transferring micropayments from your foreign bank account to your local mobile wallet as easy as ‘switching’ your card online.”

As ATMs were inaccessible during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the update was added, making HeptaPay the ideal way to load mobile money for delivery services.

“Our retention numbers are very good and for some people we are an essential service that they cannot live without,” Chebukati said.

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HeptaPay users can send money from anywhere in the world to Rwanda, Kenya and Burundi, and the startup is preparing to go live in Uganda as well. The startup, which is currently angel-funded, is a recent graduates of the fintech incubation program Powered by CcHub and Google Kigali.

“We charge a commission on every transaction, we currently only settle in US dollars, and because we earn commissions from mobile money agencies, we make a difference,” said Chebukati.

“We’re building a fairly new product in a noisy environment, so we’ve had a hard time getting the word out about our services. For example, HeptaPay can be used by expats looking to load their mobile money wallets in African countries, but also by businesses to trade regionally,” said Chebukati.

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“Technicians and developers can use HeptaPay to receive payments from their international clients. International students in Africa can use HeptaPay to make small payments to loved ones anywhere in the world. We also support merchant payments, so small Instagram stores can target global customers with free access to global POS machines without any integration. While the message of these use cases is sometimes associated with ‘remittance’ noise, the use cases mentioned are far from traditional remittances.”

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