The Ugandan behind Xente, a cashless app that made history and got Google funding

Abu Mubarik October 19, 2022
Allan Rwakatungu. Image via ug.linkedin.com

Allan Rwakatungu is the founder and chief executive officer of Xente Tech Ltd, a cashless application that is changing the way customers shop and save. It also allows business people to make payments, get loans, book tickets, and shop anywhere in the world.

Xente founder Rwakatungu said the startup was established to introduce businesses to the digital economy. “Xente accepts your Visa debit card as well as MTN Mobile Money and Airtel money as payment options. The app also offers cash back on every transaction a customer makes,” he told the Monitor.

According to him, he was motivated to build the app because he wanted to trade across the globe and wanted a platform that could easily facilitate payments of goods and services. A software developer by profession, he realized during the time he was creating websites for people that people will only end at one owing to the website.

He also noticed that a significant number of people would prefer physical trading and the exchange of cash for goods and services, a phenomenon he felt was inefficient.

“It is very costly for both the business and the person who is doing the transaction in terms of how much time they need to spend doing it, how much money they need to do if they have to go to the market physically,” he said.

This led Rwakatungu and his colleagues to develop a system that will tap into the growing digital economy and also allow people access to a loan with a flexible repayment condition.

In 2017, the Xente app went live and brought new life to Uganda’s digital space. Also, the app now has over 50,000 registered subscribers with 20 people directly employed and indirectly, hundreds of people.

“Our major functionality is to make payments for airtime, enable ticket bookings and allow people to get credit or loans when they purchase with the system,” he said. Since then, Rwakatungu has worked hard to partner with three companies operating in Uganda to get orders from customers using Xente.

“One of our key features is issuance of visa cards to businesses,” Lyn Tukei, the Xente head of marketing and communications, told The Observer. “They can be either virtual or physical cards. We are actually the first fintech to issue visa cards in Uganda, through our partnership with Visa,” she said.

Xente expanded to Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy, with over 20,000 subscribers. And plans are far advanced to expand into neighboring Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa.

“We are trying to grow our market share, and so the benefit will be the ability to build a sizeable company that would be valuable for our customers and shareholders,” he said.

Rwakatungu said his journey has not been without challenges. According to him, convincing people to use digital payment systems was difficult.

Last month, Xente became one of the 60 beneficiaries of the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund in Africa 2022. Google announced that selected startups will receive $100,000 in non-dilutive cash awards, paired with up to $200,000 in Google Cloud credits per startup as well as mentorship.

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