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Paycorp Saw an Opportunity… and Took It

Paycorp was first launched as ATM Solutions in 1999. Founder Steven Kark was 25 years old. He’d seen an article in Forbes magazine describing the success of the largest independent ATM company in the US.

Nadine Todd




It was the late 90s, and the retail landscape in South Africa was changing. Convenience retail was on the rise, and large retail shops, 7/11s, and garage shops were popping up everywhere. Retail was becoming more convenient, and yet there was one glaring gap: Very few ways to access cash outside of banks.

“In the US, companies were installing ATMs in retail areas. I knew there was an additional opportunity in South Africa: Previously under-serviced areas and retail locations, which had traditionally been neglected, but offered a huge market.

“After a lot of searching, I found an email address and managed to get in touch with the guys in the US who I’d read about. They weren’t interested in international expansion, but they were happy to put me in contact with the manufacturers, a company called Triton based in Mississippi.

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Off to the US

“I jumped on a plane to the US to make contact. I had some money saved up and for the next few months I cultivated the idea. I also realised I needed someone who understood technology. I contacted a family friend, Rowan Swartz, and asked him if he was interested in launching a start-up. He was.

“We formed an amazing partnership with Triton. They facilitated introductions to all the big ATM guys in the US. By the end of 1999 our first 23 machines arrived. Now we needed a bank to connect to. Our proposal was simple: ‘We’ll extend your footprint of ATMs into retail locations. Through our ATMs, you’ll have access to more transactions, particularly in under-serviced markets; you’ll service your customers, but you won’t carry the costs.’ The big four banks didn’t bite. We just couldn’t make the idea fly until Saambou got on board. They had a large cardholder base but few machines, so the idea worked for them.

“On 24 March 2000 the first machine went live at an office park in Pretoria, across the road from a Saambou bank. In quick succession, there were 23 Cash Express machines supported by Saambou live around Joburg and Pretoria. For the next 14 years we installed a machine per day.”

The Business Model

Kark and Swartz had hit on a serious market need. All retail stores wanted an ATM. They increased foot traffic, spend and basket size. But it was difficult for merchants to get ATMs from banks, which didn’t view them as a retail product.

“We approached the retailer directly. There were two options. One, the retailer paid R1 800 per month rental, and we took care of all services except the cash, which was loaded from their tills. Two, the retailer paid R2 800 monthly rental, and we did the cash stock as well (this made things more complicated because we now needed cash-in-transit partners). The back-end was complicated, but very simple for the retailer: For either R1 800 or R2 800, they got a fully-serviced ATM.

“There was a huge demand. We installed 650 ATMs in two years. We signed 60-month agreements upfront, and this helped us secure the finance to order and ship more ATMs.

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“We get an annuity stream of bank fees: Every time a machine is used, the retailer gets a percentage of the fees, we get a percentage of the fees, and the bank’s footprint grows.”

Once the transaction processing capability was established, additional complementary products and services were added. The business quickly expanded into card acceptance services and prepaid card programmes. Today, Paycorp has expanded even further with acquisitions and partnerships to extend the payment solutions to emerging markets.

Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.

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25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton



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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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27 Of The Richest People In South Africa

Here are 27 of South Africa’s richest people, but how did they achieve this level of wealth? Find out here.

Nicole Crampton



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Learn the secrets of SA’s most successful business people, here is the list of the 27 richest people in South Africa:

In a world with growing entrepreneurship success stories, victory is often measured in terms of money. The feat of achieving a place on this list is, however, years of hard work, determination and persistence. “One has to set high standards… I can never be happy with mediocre performance,” advises Patrice Motsepe.

From the individuals that made the 27 of the richest people in South Africa list, actual entrepreneurs and self-made business people dominate the list; while those who inherited their fortunes have gone on to do even bigger and better things with their wealth. Over the years, some have slipped off the list, while others continue to climb higher and higher each year.

  1. Elisabeth Bradley
  2. Sharon Wapnick
  3. Bridgette Radebe
  4. Irene Charnley
  5. Wendy Ackerman
  6. Paul Harris
  7. Wendy Appelbaum
  8. Mark Shuttleworth
  9. Desmond Sacco
  10. Giovanni Ravazzotti
  11. Markus Jooste
  12. Gus Attridge
  13. Gerrit Thomas Ferreira
  14. Cyril Ramaphosa
  15. Adrian Gore
  16. Raymond Ackerman
  17. Michiel Le Roux
  18. Lauritz Dippenaar
  19. Jannie Mouton
  20. Stephen Saad
  21. Patrice Motsepe
  22. Allan Gray
  23. Koos Bekker
  24. Ivan Glasenberg
  25. Christoffel Wiese
  26. Johann Rupert
  27. Nicky Oppenheimer
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Watch List: 50 Top SA Black Entrepreneurs To Watch

South Africa needs more entrepreneurs to build businesses that can make a positive impact on the economy. These up-and-coming black entrepreneurs are showing how it can be done.

Nicole Crampton



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Early-stage South African entrepreneurial activity is at an all-time high of 11%, according to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, and entrepreneurial intentions have also increased to 11.7%. With both activity and intentions growing significantly year-on-year, there are more businesses opening up around South Africa than ever before.

The increase in entrepreneurship has seen the rise of more black entrepreneurs across numerous sectors. From beauty brands to legal services and even tech start-ups, these are 50 top black entrepreneurs to watch:

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