Vodacom and Alipay launch a super-app in Africa
- Africa's largest telecom operator, Vodacom, has announced the launch of a super-app embedding financial and lifestyle services in the coming weeks. Called VodaPay, it has been developed in partnership with Alipay.
- Vodacom's new super-app will offer many services including:
- loans and insurance, especially for small businesses
- online payments, via QR or between individuals,
- entertainment (e.g. music),
- personalized shopping experiences.
- VodaPay will be available to South African customers in the coming weeks.
- Alipay proceeds as a technology provider alongside Vodacom.
Vodacom has :
- 123.7 million customers
- 57.7 million customers for its financial services, +12.9% in 2020
- + 4.2% profit growth in 2020
- Promoting financial inclusion: More than 11 million South Africans still do not have a bank account. The deployment of services such as this Super-App is a way to make loans and other financial services available to a target group that was previously inaccessible.
- Continued growth: The announcement of the launch of its future super-app is coordinated with the publication of the Vodacom Group's annual results. With revenues up 8.3% (to R98.3 billion, or nearly €6 billion), the group was able to turn the tables after acquiring m-Pesa with Safaricom at the beginning of 2020.
- Taking advantage of a high-potential market: Long before the formation of the joint venture between Vodacom and Safaricom, M-Pesa had already inked partnerships with a number of payment giants such as PayPal and Alipay. M-Pesa illustrates the relevance of the financial inclusion model based on the use of mobile channels. By mid 2020, the service had 24.5 million customers in Kenya, a country with a population of 53 million. The service has since expanded to Tanzania, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Ghana, Egypt, Afghanistan and South Africa.
- Alipay's positioning in the African market is not new. Kenya-based regional financial institution Equity Bank and Singapore-based online payment company Red Dot, for example, signed a memorandum of understanding to introduce Alipay and WeChat Pay in East African countries in June 2018.
- These efforts by Alipay to deploy in Africa illustrate the global strategy of many Chinese players engaged in developing projects on the continent. The stakes are both political and economic.
- However, the shares of Chinese companies remain marginal compared to those of Western countries. The pandemic has also slowed down their development, even if their growth remains significant.
- According to Alicia Garcia Herrero, senior fellow at the European think-tank Bruegel, 72% of Chinese projects are in the services sector and 15% in manufacturing.