Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

FinTech

Vodacom launching fintech 'super-app' with Alipay

Article Image
South Africa's Vodacom has announced it will roll out a financial services "super-app" in partnership with Chinese digital payment provider Alipay. The two groups made the announcement on Monday but said the fintech platform will officially launch early next year.

The super-app is going to be a marketplace of goods and services as well as a digital payments ecosystem designed to serve both South Africa's banked and unbanked citizens.

"We are on the brink of a new fintech wave in South Africa, as Vodacom financial services embarks on developing and creating this world class super-app," said Mariam Cassim, CEO of Vodacom financial and digital services.

The super-app does not come as a surprise. Last year, Cassim told Connecting Africa about her plans for this type of multi-purpose app in the style of China's Alipay or WeChat. The group has seen success from its insurance and lending products and at the time she said it was planning to become a more holistic financial services player with a new savings and investment product and a super-app in the works.

Vodacom's financial services division has seen major growth over the past four years – it has grown from a loss-making entity into one that contributes R1 billion (US$60.6 million) in profit to the Vodacom Group and has more than 12 million customers using its products.

"Globally, we have seen an increase in the convergence of industries. Companies that invest in technology that enables them to understand their customer behavior better and thereby offer personalized financial, business and lifestyle solutions to their customers are the ones excelling in this space," she said on Monday.

"Through our partnership with Alipay, we look forward to applying world-leading digital technologies to facilitate merchant and consumer transactions from a digital wallet on their mobile device," she added.

Mariam Cassim, Vodacom's financial and digital services CEO
Mariam Cassim, Vodacom's financial and digital services CEO

Vodacom Group CEO, Shameel Joosub, called the partnership with Alipay a significant milestone in promoting greater financial inclusion and accelerating Vodacom's financial services aspirations across Africa.

"We already offer South African customers an ecosystem of innovative digital financial services products, but this technology partnership with Alipay will enable us to be on par with leading global digital counterparts quicker and more efficiently. We see this as an excellent opportunity for us to reinvent the mobile fintech ecosystem for both consumers and merchants in South Africa," he said.

Alipay is owned and operated by the Ant Group, which is the financial affiliate of the Alibaba Group. As of June 30, 2019, Alipay had more than 1.2 billion users worldwide together with its global e-wallet partners.

"Alipay seeks to work with like-minded partners around the world, to bring innovative and inclusive digital daily life services to consumers and small businesses globally," said Guoming Cheng, head of global payment partnerships at Ant Group.

Financial inclusion
Vodacom is looking to target the new platform as an end-to-end experience that will improve transaction efficiency and introduce easy-to-use money management tools for its 43 million mobile customers in South Africa, but it will also be open to non-Vodacom customers.

"Not only will consumers have the ability to easily and affordably transact, they can also keep track of their monthly spend with each merchant they transact with every day," Cassim explained.

The new technology will also allow access to digital lifestyle solutions such as streaming music, playing games and watching videos, e-news, cab-hailing and more.

Vodacom is not the only South African operator looking to launch a super-app. Rival MTN also has aspirations to turn its Ayoba messaging platform into a "messaging-centric super-app" which also has payment integration and business-to-consumer (B2C) integration, CEO Rob Shuter said at AfricaCom in 2019.

Vodacom already has a payment app, called VodaPay, and says the new mobile platform will be seamlessly integrated into the physical footprint of its VodaPay point of sale devices, offering merchants a single-payments processing solution for physical and mobile commerce.

"It will potentially help previously underserviced SMEs access to the best financial services solutions such as lending through VodaLend, access to business insurance products as well as being able to seamlessly order products from suppliers," it said.

In emerging markets like South Africa, cash is still the dominant means of transacting due to the high costs associated with using digital and card payment options.

"We live in a country where the cost of cash-less transacting is quite high for small merchants and large fast-moving consumer goods companies struggle to reach or communicate directly with the end distributor of their products. Vodacom financial services aims to link South African merchants, suppliers and consumers on one affordable platform. The primary focus of every development on this super-app is to deliver a seamless and value-adding experience to everyone who uses it, in a cost-efficient way," Cassim said.

She said that Vodacom financial services is looking to recruit talent to bring this application to life in early 2021.

"We want people who are willing to push the envelope, think creatively and most importantly, use the technology to develop customer-centric digital financial services solutions," she concluded.

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub

Story

Hot startup of the month: SA's Snode

This month's hot startup is South African company Snode, which is applying a data-driven approach to cybersecurity.

Story

Twitter announces first African office in Ghana, begins hiring

Twitter has announced it is planning to open an office in Accra, the Ghanaian capital – the first in Africa for the social media giant.

More Innovation hub

Guest Perspectives

Story

Factors influencing fintech adoption in Nigeria

By Yusuf Opeyemi Akinwale and Adam Konto Kyari

This article is a collaboration with the African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development and explores the factors impacting the adoption of financial services technology in Lagos, Nigeria.

Story

Omdia View: March 2021

By Omdia Analysts

Omdia's analysts provide context and analysis to the biggest stories making headlines in Africa during March 2021.

More Guest Perspectives

Flash poll

All polls

AfricaCom perspectives

Story

Digital inclusion as a catalyst for economic empowerment: Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu

Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu talks to Connecting Africa about how digital payment solutions and mobile money are transforming the lives of small business owners, women and marginalized groups in East Africa.

Story

Accelerating women in STEM: In conversation with GirlCode's Tinyiko Simbine

GirlCode co-founder and CFO Tinyiko Simbine talks about why it's important to help girls and young women excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Story

How Poa Internet is unlocking meaningful connectivity in East Africa

Poa Internet's CEO Andy Halsall shares his views on what it takes to develop last-mile connectivity and get Africans online in a meaningful way.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Latest video

More videos

Upcoming events

East Africa Com
May 11-12, 2021
Virtual Event
North Africa Com
July 13-14, 2021
Virtual Event
Asia Tech x Singapore
July 13-16, 2021
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Africa Tech Festival
November 8-12, 2021
Cape Town, South Africa
More Upcoming events

Partner perspectives

The moving target that is telecoms fraud
By Clémentine Fournier, Regional VP Sales, Africa, BICS

How mobile operators in Africa can address signalling threats and secure the network
By Katia Gonzalez, Head of Fraud and Security at BICS

SD-WAN and satellite – how MNOs and telcos can enjoy the best of both worlds
By Ofer Asif, SVP BizDev, marketing and strategy at Spacecom

All Partner Perspectives

Sponsored video

More videos

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up


Sign Up