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Vodacom’s VodaPay ‘super app’ launched

It’s like a digital wallet in a digital mall, allowing customers to send money, shop at their favourite retailers, order food, and even pay bills and fines: Mariam Cassim – Financial and Digital Services CEO, Vodacom.

ROFHIWA MADZENA: Welcome back to the Market Update with me, Rofhiwa Madzena, filling in for Fifi Peters. We’re now going to go into a new app that’s been developed by Vodacom. That’s Vodacom’s VodaPay called the ‘super app’. Vodacom has launched that and Mariam Cassim, the chief executive officer of Financial and Digital Services at Vodacom joins me now to discuss the app and the offering that consumers can look forward to.

Thank you so much for your time this evening, Mariam. Let’s maybe start with the importance of introducing this app to the market and what it means for Vodacom.

MARIAM CASSIM: Hi, good evening, Rofhiwa. Thank you so much for having me on the show and it’s a real pleasure to share with you this evening a little about our VodaPay super app. VodaPay really gives consumers full control of their lifestyle directly from their smartphone. It’s literally like carrying a digital wallet around in a digital mall, which allows customers to send money, shop at their favourite retailers, order food, and even pay bills and fines all from one simple super app. All transactions happen in an instant with VodaPay.

And to further drive financial and digital inclusion for as many people as possible VodaPay is available to customers on any mobile network. Users are able to earn cash-backs and rewards from multiple sources, including banking rewards, loyalty shopping rewards with partners, and even VodaBucks or Vodacom telco-related transactions, all transacting through one app.

ROFHIWA MADZENA: What is the experience that consumers can look forward to, because in the time of Covid our movements have been really limited. The idea is that you would be having more and more platforms assisting that lack of movement, but be able to get everything that you need. So what is that experience that consumers can look forward to?

MARIAM CASSIM: I think firstly VodaPay is really a very simple, accessible cost-effective app which can be very easily downloaded on a smartphone. It’s suitable for both the banked and unbanked market. What’s really exciting is the way in which we’ve partnered with some of South Africa’s biggest and most respected businesses, which have come on as what we call mini-apps or mini-programme partners. This means that they’re able to position their products and services to all VodaPay customers. All of this is done within one environment.

I think with the Covid pandemic and the acceleration into the world of digital, this just becomes even more important in ensuring that we’re bringing a holistic ecosystem to our customers.

ROFHIWA MADZENA: And that’s going to be very important because Covid-19 is here to stay and things are going to have to be very innovative so that consumers are catered to as best possible. But obviously it’s a big move for Vodacom and it diversifies the group’s offering to consumers. Is it going to be across all the markets that Vodacom operates in, or are you just sticking with South Africa at this stage? What are the prospects here?

MARIAM CASSIM: For now our entry or our first launch is within the South African market for Vodacom, and that’s really driven by the fact that across all our opcos South Africa is really the market that has the highest smartphone penetration.

The idea is to launch first in South Africa. We’ve spent a lot of time and effort working on this, as you can imagine. It was an extreme challenge trying to do something like this during a global pandemic [with] multiple lockdowns. However, we’re really excited to have created this game-changing platform in the fintech space, which will really generate new revenue streams for the Vodacom Group. So the idea is first in South Africa and, as we start to see the success in South Africa, definitely roll out to all our other opcos.

In South Africa, the app is available to customers on any mobile network – and I think that is really important because it starts to demonstrate Vodacom’s vision to really improve financial inclusion in South Africa. Our objective is to make VodaPay an integral and entrenched part of every South African’s life, irrespective of their income statement, their network provider or their geographical location.

I think Rofhiwa, you’ll see – or for me personally the beauty of the VodaPay super app, what you see now is the app in its infancy. It will only continue to evolve and get so much better as we launch new features, onboard new partners into the ecosystem. Going forward users will also be spoilt for choice when it comes to things like daily deals and other special offers from the partners that we have onboarded into the app.

The app also has a really big artificial intelligence or personalised engine which starts to understand our customers and starts to personalise propositions for them. As we know, this is where the world is going in terms of all organisations being able to understand their customers and be able to offer them the right product at the right time.

So yeah, a very exciting product.

ROFHIWA MADZENA: Indeed. I really just want to pick your brain on this idea that it’s going to be available on all network providers. You’ve mentioned one thing around financial inclusion, but the idea that a consumer doesn’t have to be subscribed to Vodacom to access the offering – how important is that to the Vodacom Group?

MARIAM CASSIM: Again, it’s very important in that it really starts to demonstrate how aggressively we’re wanting to drive financial and digital inclusion in South Africa, such that we’re saying this amazing product should not only be selfishly available to Vodacom customers, but it’s actually such a useful product to customers – who are all citizens of South Africa – that actually we’re wanting to open it up and allow customers of any mobile network to use it.

There is however an advantage for Vodacom customers in that Vodacom customers who use the super app will have a zero-rated or a data-free experience when browsing on the app.

ROFHIWA MADZENA: Very interesting insights from there this evening, Mariam. Thank you so much. That is Mariam Cassim, the chief executive officer of Financial and Digital Services at Vodacom, telling us about an exciting new offering that Vodacom has, VodaPay, the super app which offers a range of product offerings for consumers – and not only Vodacom customers, but a range of those who don’t necessarily use the network.

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From a shareholder perspective, lets hope this is a bigger success than Mpesa

This is a great move by Vodacom. Telcos have to diversify and transition into other verticals like financial and digital services beyond connectivity.

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