Vodacom Financial Services has announced a technology partnership with digital lifestyle services platform Alipay to bring inclusive mobile solutions to South African consumers and merchants through innovative digital technologies.
Vodacom Financial Services will work closely with Alipay to develop a super-app that enables customers and merchants to engage in a digital marketplace, underpinned by a progressive digital payments ecosystem.
The super-app will be operated by Vodacom Financial Services, with Alipay as the technology provider.
Shameel Joosub, Vodacom Group Chief Executive Officer says, “This partnership is a significant milestone in promoting greater financial inclusion within the communities in which we operate, accelerating our 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 and we look forward to achieving this by working with Alipay.”
Alipay is, owned and operated by the Ant Group, an innovative global technology provider. As of June 30, 2019, Alipay serves more than 1.2 billion users worldwide together with its global e-wallet partners.
Guoming Cheng, Head of Global Payment Partnerships at Ant Group, says, “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. Vodacom Financial Services’ aim is to better serve customers and merchants in South Africa through digital technology, and we look forward to working with them to achieve this.”
Vodacom Financial Services claims to have over 12 million customers using its products and contributes R1 billion in profit to the Vodacom Group.
Mariam Cassim, CEO of Vodacom Financial and Digital Services says: “Globally, we have seen an increase in the convergence of industries. Companies that invest in technology that enables them to understand their customer behaviour better and thereby offer personalised financial, business and lifestyle solutions to their customers are the ones excelling in this space. 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.”
Digital financial inclusion
For consumers, the platform will offer a user-friendly, end-to-end experience that will improve transaction efficiency and introduce easy-to-use money management tools.
Cassim adds, “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. With a significant number of large and small retailers in Vodacom’s partner and customer network, consumers will be spoilt for choice when it comes to making buying decisions that are right for them.”
In the emerging business markets, cash still remains the dominant means of transacting simply due to the high costs associated with using digital and card payment. Vodacom Financial Services aims to remove the cost barriers traditionally associated with digital payments and further enable and promote financial inclusion in our country by allowing the emerging market more freedom to choose how they would like to process payments – QR code scanning being an example of this.
Cassim explains, “We live in a country where the cost of cash-less transacting is quite high for small merchants and large FMCG 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.”
In addition to the benefits associated with accessibility and affordability, there will also be support offered to the SME businesses such as bespoke, programmatic advertising as well as real-time and direct marketing solutions – all zero-rated for customer consumption.
The mobile payment platform will also be seamlessly integrated into the physical footprint of Vodacom’s 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.
Vodacom Financial Services plans to recruit and develop the best skills required to bring this application to life early next year.