The Karri application used at Sunward Park High Sc
The Karri application used at Sunward Park High School, Boksburg (Facebook, Karri Payments)
  • The CEO of payment application Karri said certain SA schools are avoiding cash completely, using their application to make payments instead. 
  • He said avoiding cash reduces the risk of money being stolen or lost by pupils. 
  • Karri now has just under 1,000 schools using the platform, with 90% of parents at those schools using the application. 
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Karri, a local application, lets harassed parents make on-the-fly payments for school projects, excursions and the like.

And some South African schools are now avoiding any cash payments on their premises in a bid to improve safety, said Douglas Hoernle, CEO and founder of the payment application

Instead, Hoernle said the schools are encouraging parents to make payments for school trips, clothing and food through Karri. 

Karri, adopted from the South African slang term “i-kerri” which means “I am carrying money to school”, now has just under 1,000 schools on its platform, including prominent schools such as Bishops High School, St Johns College and Renish Girls High. 

It allows for the quick payment of ad hoc school-related expenses through the application, avoiding money from being stolen or lost by pupils. 

Hoernle said since it launched in 2016, 90% of parents at schools where Karri’s payment system has been implemented, use Karri to make payments irrespective of their banking affiliation. 

He said Karri was developed to work seamlessly on basic phones that have WhatsApp, to assist parents who do not have access to expensive smartphones. 

The Karri application on Android (screenshot)
The Karri application on Android (screenshot)

Trying to get parents to use an online payment system who've never used one before was one of the biggest obstacles since launch, he said. 

“[Since 2016] we have helped many parents make their first online payment, which has opened up the world of mobile and online payments for them,” Hoernle told Business Insider South Africa. 

He said the application also has a unique mobile wallet functionality that allows users to store funds to be used for school-related activities. 

While it’s predominantly used by pre-primary schools, primary schools and high schools, Karri also has a smaller user base at universities, colleges, sports clubs, churches and other smaller community organisations. 

It signed up South Africa’s largest education corporate AdvTech as a client in 2019. 

Also read: These are the most expensive boarding schools in SA – with fees of up to R321,000

Karri helps these organisations by providing comprehensive payment tracking functionality, regardless of whether the transaction was completed through the application.

The application is fully privately owned, but partnered with Nedbank in 2016 to provide the financial technology to ensure that all the data stored on the platform is safe, secure and reliable.  

Hoernle said while Karri is completely free for parents, it makes its income by charging a small transaction fee from the funds transferred through its system.

He said their aim is to remove all cash from every school in South Africa, and get every South African to use a convenient mobile payment application. 

“[And] from the South African base Karri is well-positioned to grow into other African markets,” Hoernle added.