JOHANNESBURG - VODACOM, the JSE-listed telecoms group, is making a bold move into e-commerce through the launch of a “super app” to be launched in South Africa within the next few months.
The group yesterday announced that it was partnering with Alipay, the Chinese online payment system, to launch its single lifestyle app, Vodapay, in South Africa.
Alipay, which has more than 1 billion users, was established by the Alibaba Group founded by billionaire, Jack Ma.
Vodacom chief executive Shameel Joosub said, during the company’s virtual financial presentation for the year ended March 2021 yesterday, that the super-app would offer services ranging from loans and savings, seamless QR and person-to-person payments, to entertainment and personalised shopping experiences, promoting greater financial inclusion.
“We see this super-app as a precursor to M-Pesa’s evolution, supporting accelerated growth across our financial services’ businesses and assisting us in connecting the next 100 million African customers so that no one is left behind,” said Joosub.
M-Pesa is Vodacom’s mobile phone-based money transfer service, payments and micro-financing which was launched in 2007 by Safaricom, the largest mobile network operator in Kenya, and has since expanded to countries including Tanzania, and Mozambique. Through M-Pesa Vodacom processes transactions amounting to $24.5 billion (R366.4bn) a month across its international businesses up 63.5 percent.
Joosub said that the launch of the super app would be a game-changer for financial services in South Africa.
“It is the most sophisticated platform in the world and so I think it is going to be quite transformational for the fintech environment in South Africa,” said Joosub, adding that the super app followed two years of negotiations with Alipay.
“A lot of retailers are coming on to the platform itself and you will see in the coming days that the retailers will make lots of announcements,” said Joosub.
In March, Massmart, which owns Game, Makro and Builders Warehouse, announced it would become an “anchor tenant” on Vodacom’s super app as part of its plans to beef up its mobile shopping presence.
Chief financial officer Rasibe Morathi said the super app would boost the group’s revenue.
“Our financial services offering both in South Africa and the international market will benefit from further augmentation and the deeper product offering that comes from this super app. Today South African financial services contributes 4.2 percent of our service revenue, but that 4.2 percent is growing faster than the rest of our business,” said Morathi.