By Hennie Pretorius, journalist, Justmoney
Last week Vodacom re-launched their mobile money wallet m-pesa in South Africa, boasting improved benefits in an attempt to gain the confidence of the market:
“We’ve taken the experience and knowledge gained from the past four years and have used this as the basis for a comprehensive redesign of m-pesa for the South African market,” said Vodacom chief executive officer Shameel Joosub.
The mobile wallet is used to send and receive money, buy airtime, deposit and withdraw cash, and pay for goods and services.
It’s up against some stiff competition. MTN’s Mobile Money, another bankless service and virtual bank account has just acquired Pick n Pay
as a partner.
Other mobile applications such as Snapscan and Flickpay have also entered the market since Vodacom made improvements to m-pesa.
What improvements have been made?
M-pesa was never taken off the market. Existing customers, with more than one million signing-up shortly after the initial launch in 2010, have been “migrated” and “upgraded” to the re-launched m-pesa service.
A newly formed m-pesa team investigated reasons as to why it was not as successful in South Africa as it was in Kenya when it was launched in 2007, where over 70% of the adult population use m-pesa. One of the first ‘improvements’ introduced was to increase the number of distribution agents:
"It's not good enough to have an agent at the nearest big town or at a handful of big retail outlets. Kenya and Tanzania taught us that if you need to take a taxi to use the service, it will fail. Instead, you need to have agents where people live and work," said Joosub.
He added that the registration process was impractical. Registration had to take place in person at one of a few registered outlets. Now customers can register using their mobile phone by entering their name and identification (ID) number.
Vodacom has partnered with Bidvest Bank and Visa this time round: “We are delighted to be selected as the banking partner for Vodacom’s mobile banking service,” said Japie van Niekerk, managing director of Bidvest Bank.
M-pesa users will now be able to link their m-pesa wallet to their m-pesa Visa card. This will allow access to ATMs and merchant outlets. Also introduced is a voucher system allowing customers to ‘top-up’ their m-pesa wallets at Vodacom outlets, spaza shops and various retailers.
Rewards on offer for using m-pesa
M-pesa is only on offer to registered Vodacom customers. With more than 30 million Vodacom customers various incentives are on offer to encourage the signing-up of m-pesa.
When you activate the m-pesa Visa card you will receive free airtime. You will also receive double the amount of airtime purchased if you use m-pesa to purchase the airtime.
Transactions up to R1,000 per day with a maximum of R25 000 per month are allowed when using the m-pesa wallet. Deposits are free and there is no monthly fee attached. It costs a minimum of one rand to send money.
A once off fee of R9.95 is payable on application of the Visa card which is linked to the mobile wallet account. This allows for daily transactions to be increased to R5000 per day but the monthly limit remains the same at R25 000 per month.
Vodacom intends on providing a readily available service to all Vodacom customers:
“We had to ensure its widespread availability. The plan is to have an m-pesa agent within hundreds of meters to where customers live and work so that they don’t have to take a taxi to use the service,” said Vodaom’s managing executive Herman Singh.
The downside to using m-pesa is no interest is paid on balances. For more information on m-pesa click here