News Release

CFS RICA: Bridging the gap into untapped informal retail markets

The vast informal market in the less-developed and far-flung corners of our country remains untapped. This market, mainly financially supported by Government’s extensive social support programme, represents a massive opportunity for retailers to extend their distribution channels, increase their national footprint, develop new markets and offer new products and services, while increasing brand awareness and loyalty.

Up until recently, the logistical and financial challenges of reaching the informal markets – whether in under-developed human settlements or in rural areas – prevented retailers from expanding into this untapped market. Fortunately, rapid advances in technology in the form of robust, easy-to-use and highly customisable terminals now allow retailers to “set up shop” quite literally anywhere in South Africa, quickly and cost-effectively.

These terminals, known as the V5 Rica terminals, were recently launched by CFS Rica, the company behind successful RICA registration of more than 40 million sim cards across South Africa. With more than 40 000 purpose-built Sim Registration terminals already deployed in formal and informal retail channels throughout South Africa, supporting the ongoing registration of around 1.5 million sim subscribers each month, CFS Rica has certainly proven the exceptional reliability and superb functionality of their terminals.

The next generation V5 Rica terminals have retained many of the proven features of its predecessor – such as exceptional portability and ease-of-use, reliability, robustness and low theft value, a spill-proof QWERTY keyboard, an external antenna and a long-lasting battery. But the latest version now also incorporates a GPS tracking module which enabling geo-tagging of the exact location of each terminal, as well as an internal 3G/GPRS modem for connectivity from remote locations and the encryption and transmission of data. In addition to the standard 2-megapixel integrated customer-facing webcam for taking pictures, as well as a FIPS-approved biometric fingerprint reader, a range of peripherals can be attached as “plug-and-play devices”.  These include flatbed scanners, USB hand-held barcode scanners, thermal printers, signature pads, numeric keypads, magswipe card readers and debit and credit card payment devices.

This new level of functionality opens up incredible retail opportunities through a number of innovative applications that run on the terminals. Far beyond small retail outlets simply selling food and other basic necessities, these terminals allow them to increase their offering to include pre-paid airtime, electricity and insurance vending; Money Transfer transactions and registrations; agency banking services including remote account opening and conducting basic transactions; ticketing for events and transport such as busses and trains; barcode scanning for stock control; and fingerprinting for successful loyalty programmes and lay-bye programmes.

“In this way, the retail outlet becomes more than just a ‘shop’, it becomes a ‘point of presence’ or a central hub of economic activity in the area,” comments Craig Aiken, CEO and Project Director of CFS Rica. “In fact, the advanced transaction technology on which these terminals are based can be adapted to our clients’ exact needs – and deployed, managed and supported wherever our clients’ customers may be. Retailers can now, quite literally, take their offerings to the doorstep of their customers, no matter where they may be located. It is the quickest, most convenient and most cost-effective way to bridge the gap between the formal market and vast, untapped informal market in South Africa.”
While the terminals operate as stand-alone devices, independent from a retailer’s main infrastructure, advance technology ensures connectivity at all times, without the need for high-value equipment such as iPhones or iPads that create a theft, damage or loss risk.

Furthermore, the terminals are backed-up by CFS Rica’s unique support package that encompasses optimised uptime, including the ability to upgrade firmware and effect repairs onsite; optimised insight including a full asset management system to keep track of the data flow, utilisation and location of each terminal; and optimised efficiency, by putting in place the systems and processes to create a full turnkey solution that extends from hardware and software design and development, local manufacture, installation and logistics to repair facilities, data hosting and full support.

“For retailers ready to tap into the vast informal market, ready to expand their distribution channels and ready raise their service offering and competitive advantage to a new level, CFS Rica has the experience and the expertise to create the required solution,” concludes Aiken. “We have the technology and the strategic partnerships that deliver cutting edge technology and support to retailers – locally, throughout Africa and internationally – who want to offer their customers innovative and value-added services that also simulate job creation and economic development.”
For more information please visit or contact (011) 465 8975.