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  • Payment
  • South Africa

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
    • savings,
    • 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.