Vodacom may have pulled the plug on its M-Pesa payment platform in South Arica four years ago, but it appears they still want some of that e-commerce pie. According to Tech Central, the company is teaming up with Ant Financial Services Group – formerly known as Alipay, an affiliate of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, in developing this new app for Africa’s largest telecoms company.
The new app will offer a “marketplace of goods and services tailored to South African customer needs”. The mobile payment platform will also be integrated into Vodacom’s VodaPay point-of-sale devices, offering merchants a single payment processing solution for physical and mobile commerce. The company will also be looking to leverage its existing customer base by providing airtime and data and other incentives, while their access to the platform will be zero-rated for data usage.
The company though doesn’t provide any further details on exactly how this new app will differentiate itself from other similar marketplaces in the county, but according to the company will be “underpinned by a progressive digital payments ecosystem designed to serve both the banked and unbanked parts of the population”.
Customers and merchants will all find each other on one affordable platform, operated by Vodacom Financial Services, with Alipay as the technology provider. 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.
It will be interesting to see if Vodacom finds any success in this e-commerce space the second time around. While M-Pesa was a bit of a failure in South Africa as a payment platform, it remains successful in other African markets like Kenya and Tanzania, and so the company will be focusing this effort exclusively on South Africa to try and get into the lucrative ecommerce business.
Money speaks for companies and the closer they can get to their customer’s cash the better for them. I’m a little surprised though with their decision to go with a Chinese firm when there are so many start-ups in South Africa looking to make a dent in this space. It might admittedly take longer than what Alipay could offer, but they may have been able to make a more tailored South African solution which could work better for them in the long run.
Last Updated: July 22, 2020