The Company Behind ‘Please Call Me’ Is Coming For Your Mobile Wallet

“I think the way we think of ourselves now is both a telco and a financial service source.”

Smartphone
Smartphone to make money. beeboys / Shutterstock.com

Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub is excited about the financial services opportunity across Africa.

At the end of March, Vodacom had almost 46 million customers from our financial services business in South Africa and M-Pesa [mobile money service] in Safaricom and in the International operations.

The Vodafone-owned mobile phone operator has operations in South Africa, Kenya [through its stake in Safaricom], Tanzania, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Lesotho.

“We are putting a lot of focus in this space[financial services], and we are expanding our service offering across all markets, integrating more payment options, enabling merchant payment solutions, expanding insurance and bringing those savings opportunities to our customers,” Joosub said a conference call on Monday after the company announced its 2019 financial results.

He adds that the company’s M-Pesa business continues to deliver solid growth and now processed $149 billion in value, that is over R2 trillion to 36.1 million customers across its financial services network, including Safaricom

Demand for its mobile financial services through the M-Pesa platform remained strong in all its international markets.

Vodacom financial services
Vodacom financial services

The company, which is based in Johannesburg, said on Monday in South Africa’s operation’s profit before tax from financial services doubled to R1 billion, contributing R1.6 billion of revenue. The South African operations’ insurance business also continues to grow, adding more services such as life and funeral cover during the year. Total policies increased by

Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub
Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub

38.1% to 1.3 million.

Airtime Advance is now used by just under 10 million customers.

The group M-Pesa revenue increased 32.2% to R3.1 billion, representing 15.8% of service revenue as Vodacom processed R2.8 billion in transactions on a monthly basis in the international operations alone.

“So, we’re going to be putting a lot of focus on M-Pesa and financial services in the years to come as it’s becoming a very material part of our business,” Joosub explains.

“I think the way we think of ourselves now is both a telco and a financial service source.”

The Safaricom acquisition has proven to be a catalyst for extending Vodacom’s mobile money leadership position on the African continent and in ensuring that Financial Services have become a significant contributor to its revenues, said Joosub.

The company is also in a process of concluding the acquisition of the M-Pesa brand and platform related assets from Vodafone through a joint agreement with Safaricom.

“We expect this will further accelerate our mobile money growth plans in Africa,” Joosub said.

“The commercialisation of our recently-launched payment gateway and digital wallet will assist in sustaining financial services growth in South Africa.”

Furthermore, the company plans to continue to build its digital telco capability by introducing new ways of using big data and machine learning.

“We now use this technology to drive intelligent decision-making, including optimizing capital expenditure investments, creating sophistication in financial services and constantly improving our personalized offers to customers,” said Joosub. – lourie@techfinancials.co.za

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