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Vodacom unveils VodaPay 'super app' details

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Vodacom has begun onboarding merchants and developers for its "super app," VodaPay, which is set to launch in South Africa later this year.

The Johannesburg-based mobile operator held a virtual event on Tuesday where it unveiled plans for the super app, which it claims will be a game-changer for driving financial inclusion and economic growth in South Africa.

"Since we announced the VodaPay Super App in July last year, we have made significant strides in developing this technology solution that will transform the fintech ecosystem in South Africa. Our powerful partnership with Alipay strengthens our access to world-class technology and puts us on par with leading global digital counterparts," said Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub.

Vodacom Financial Services is now inviting developers and businesses of all sizes to join the VodaPay ecosystem by building their very own "mini programs."

The idea is that these third-party, downloadable sub-applications will run within the VodaPay app. Users can use the app to pay bills, send money, play games, order takeaway or shop online all within one digital space.

"If we are to drive financial inclusion, and go even further together, we want to offer the capabilities of the VodaPay mini programs to as many businesses, of all sizes, across multiple industries as possible. Through collaboration in establishing an inclusive mobile payment ecosystem, we can change the economic landscape for the benefit of the entire country," said Joosub.

Payment options

The VodaPay app aims to be a single point of entry and payment platform for consumers. Vodacom said the mini programs can accept both physical and online payments from customers with the in-app VodaPay digital wallet.

Customers will be able to pay upfront, with rewards, or use the buy-now-pay-later options and nano credit offerings.

"This is the perfect opportunity for businesses and developers to establish a presence in this hi-tech, scalable digital mall. They can access millions of potential customers every day," added Mariam Cassim, chief officer of Vodacom Financial and Digital Services.

Last week, Safaricom which Vodacom is a shareholder of also launched its M-Pesa super app in Kenya.

Like the M-Pesa super app, Vodapay will also be zero-rated for all Vodacom customers, Cassim said. Customers on other mobile networks will be able to use it, but it seems they will have to use their data to do so.

Mariam Cassim, chief officer of Vodacom Financial and Digital Services. (Source: Vodacom).
Mariam Cassim, chief officer of Vodacom Financial and Digital Services.
(Source: Vodacom).

VodaPay will provide the infrastructure on which merchants and consumers in South Africa can transact, managing all the login, authorization and payments processing aspects of transactions.

Vodacom said that around 70 businesses have already signed up or committed to build their own mini programs in the Super App, including SA brands such as Makro, Builders Warehouse, Clicks, Edgars, Game, Exclusive Books, Big Blue, Flightsite, Dollar Thrifty, Westpack, Petzone, One Cart, Netflorist, Kit Kat Cash & Carry, Droppa, Planet54, Jacaranda FM, KFC,, TravelStart, Hannah Lavery, Michelle Ludek, To Be Gift Boxes and Afritrails.

VodaPay's technical team will be offering merchants and developers training on how best to use the technology.

Businesses will also have access to recommendation engines and data analytics to deliver personalized offers to customers as well as simplified checkout options, and advertising capabilities to drive sales.

"The adoption of digital technology is critical for businesses if they are to respond to change quickly and remain relevant in these uncertain times. VodaPay mini programs can accelerate the digital engagement of a business in a cost-effective manner, expanding the possibility of financial inclusion," added Joosub.

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*Top image is of Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub (Source: Vodacom).

Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

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