South Africa’s first payments ‘super app’ promises to catapult the country towards a more inclusive digital society and will be largely developed by a local team newly recruited by Vodacom, Vodafone’s largest African business.
The new Vodacom Financial Services super-app will enhance the lifestyles of South Africans, enabling them to manage all their digital transactions through a single platform linked to their bank account or digital wallet.
The single app will enable someone to stream music on the way to work, pay for their morning coffee, hail and pay for a cab electronically, check their account balance, pay some bills, transfer money to friends and family, and much, much more.
It is a huge step forward for a country that still largely transacts in cash as Mariam Cassim, Chief Officer of Vodacom Financial and Digital Services, explained:
“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.”
In other words, Vodacom will make it more affordable and easier for small businesses to develop an ecommerce capability and to reach customers. That in turn will help the country as it looks to rebuild its economy after Covid-19.
The Vodacom super-app will be built onto the Alipay payments platform from Ant Financial. The platform will utilise Vodacom’s existing payments gateway to process payments on the platform. Because the platform will be deployed locally, all data generated will remain within the country and monitored by Vodacom’s extensive data security systems.
“We looked at vendors across the globe to find the one best able to scale quickly and provide all the functionality we need. Ant Financial is at the cutting edge of FinTech developments and has a proven record of partner deployments across the globe,” said Ricardo Platt, the managing executive for payments, at Vodacom Financial Services.
“However, while the Ant payment platform already has over 1.3 billion users worldwide, there is work to be done deploying the platform locally, integrating it into the South African payments environment and customising product and front end requirements to meet the needs of the South African consumers,” he added.
Vodacom is therefore creating over 100 new jobs for local people. The roles hired will include software architects, software engineers, scrum managers and also commercial product managers.
Alipay will also provide a team of developers to support the new workers and to transfer knowledge about its platform.
The new team will work to a challenging timescale with the first version of the super app expected to be launched in the first quarter of 2021.
Although payment platforms have been tried before in South Africa, the added functionality provided by the Alipay platform, combined with the customisation, mean that the super-app will be hotly anticipated by consumers and merchants alike.
If you want to apply to work on the project, click here.
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