Shoprite invests in local data startup Omnisient, Pick n Pay allows crypto payments at its stores

SOUTH AFRICA – The Shoprite Group has joined a group of companies, led by Buffet Investments and KLT, to invest in South African data-collaboration platform provider Omnisient.

Omnisient enables businesses to use consumption data in a secure, compliant and risk-free manner to create new revenue streams.

Thanks to their bank-grade encryption technology, customers’ data is anonymised and protected at all times. Personally identifiable information is also never shared, highlighted the retailer.

“We are excited by local startups that are creating value for our customers and partner businesses, whilst having privacy at the core of their offering,” says Neil Schreuder, chief of strategy and innovation at ShopriteX, the retail group’s data and customer technology unit that has been working with Omnisient for the past year.

“As a data-rich organisation, this investment will enable us to deepen our knowledge and understanding of our customers and their needs, so that we can continue to expand on the relevant services we offer them.”

Shoprite says it is increasingly looking at partnerships in its ecosystem, and especially with innovative small businesses.

Aimed at the vast number of unbanked customers throughout Africa, Shoprite, for example, recently became the first South African retailer to launch a fully-fledged transactional bank account as part of its Money Market offering.

In partnership with Omnisient, Shoprite believes it will be able to use customer data to better understand and identify opportunities to create more value for its customers.

Apart from Buffet Investments and KLT, Shoprite joined follow-on investors One5, ENL, and early shareholders Investec and Nedbank in their investment in Omnisient. 

“This round of investment will be used to support our continued geographic expansion, as well as the ongoing development of our platform into the world’s leading source of consumer intelligence that fully complies with global consumer privacy regulations,” says Omnisient CEO and co-founder Jon Jacobson.

Pick n Pay to add crypto instore payment option

Meanwhile, its sector competitor Pick n Pay, has enabled in-store crypto currency payments to allow shoppers to buy groceries with digital tokens such as bitcoin at 39 of its supermarkets across the country.

The decision comes after the successful first phase of a new pilot project that tested the use of crypto payments at 10 Western Cape stores over the past five months.

In the first pilot phase, the retailer tested a payment service technology that enables customers to buy groceries with cryptocurrency at till points with any Bitcoin Lightning-enabled app, such as BlueWallet or Muun.

“Increasingly cryptocurrency is being used by those under-served by traditional banking systems, or by those wanting to pay and exchange money in a cheaper and really convenient way. Many companies are responding to this by accepting Bitcoin,” Pick n Pay said in a statement.

Pick n Pay has partnered with Electrum and CryptoConvert on its latest pilot. Electrum’s payment platform connects Pick n Pay and Cryptoconvert which converts bitcoin to rand, letting customers pay with the Bitcoin Lightning technology at the till point.

To make a payment, customers will scan a QR code from the app and accept the Rand conversion rate on their smartphone at the time of the transaction.

“Crypto payments are still in their infancy in South Africa, but we are already seeing adoption in parts of our society that haven’t previously had access to traditional financial systems,” said Carel van Wyk, Founder of CryptoConvert, which allows merchants to accept crypto payments.

The announcement comes weeks after the Financial Sector Conduct Authority formally declared crypto assets as a financial product in South Africa, enabling them to be regulated and clearing the way for cryptocurrency to be a mainstream method of payment.

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