[South Africa] Fintech specialist Ukheshe launches new innovation hub
Banking as a Service (BaaS) and embedded finance enabler Ukheshe has launched a new innovation hub, Ukheshe Labs, to focus on research and development in the digital payments market.
Jason Penton, Ukheshe Co-Founder and Head of Ukheshe Labs, says such an endeavour should be a priority for any company operating in the tech sphere. “As a company grows, there is often a very structured process for business as usual. When that happens, it’s easy to become stuck in mundane processes, leaving product development by the wayside. The idea behind Ukheshe Labs is to prevent this by bringing together highly skilled individuals, people who can think outside the box, to focus on innovation as the company grows.”
Besides product development, there are several other benefits to creating such an innovation hub within a company. Ukheshe Labs aims to tackle much more than product development, with the aim of becoming an expertise hub for any department within the company. “If any of the other business units face a challenge, whether a cost, technology or compliance challenge, they can refer that to Labs to solve,” says Penton.
One such challenge that Labs will tackle is technology consolidation across the group. Says Penton: “Any company starts facing the problem of technology silos as it grows including duplication of technology, processes and operations across departments. Labs will correct and minimise these and related challenges by encouraging open communication and innovation across all Ukheshe business units, and then leveraging technologies, infrastructure, and processes.
“Further to that, Ukheshe is very focused on its growth strategy and trajectory at the moment, which could involve mergers and acquisitions in the future. Should this be the case, Labs would then aim its focus on streamlining technology duplication over the short, medium and long term.”
Labs is already working on several other projects, one such project is looking at ways to give legacy tech more longevity. This involves moving away from data centres and into the cloud, providing more efficient cost of operation, and solving any security and compliance challenges. “Another challenge Labs would tackle is complying with certain regulations when technologies eventually reach their end-of-life cycle,” says Penton. “At Ukheshe, we value security and compliance. One of our business strategies is to be cloud native and not operate on physical hardware, but this isn’t always possible given certain compliance requirements. To tackle a challenge like this, Ukheshe Labs would define the problem, brainstorm the issue, and evaluate the feasibility of each option by looking at the required technologies, costs, risks, and more. After creating a shortlist of potential solutions, each would be tested and monitored before implementing the best solution.”
Penton believes Ukheshe Labs will help the company keep its vision top of mind and not lose sight of its core values as it grows. “We’ve always had a fantastic culture of innovation and it’s important to us to always keep that going. We truly believe that innovation is the way to not only help us stay ahead of the curve but to ensure that our main value of broadening financial inclusion is realised.”