Banking group Absa and cellular network operator Vodacom have signed a “multimillion-rand agreement”, which they say will “accelarate the pace of mobile innovation and expand the range of banking and mobile services on offer to consumers”.
Products the companies are developing together include a “tap-and-go” payment system and machine-to-machine (telemetry) solutions in the insurance field. The two also plan to offer bundled mobile and financial service offerings.
Absa has rolled out the first phase of a test “tap-and-go” payment system at a coffee shop at Vodacom World in Midrand. As part of the pilot, certain Vodacom employees can tap a special card against a machine instead of swiping it for payment. It’s based on the emerging mobile payments technology known as near-field communication, or NFC.
“Our plan is … eventually to see the cellular handset become an alternative to cash and cards as payment mechanisms,” says Absa Retail Bank CEO Gavin Opperman.
He says machine-to-machine technology is also on the cards with the idea that it will act as early warning mechanism for use in the insurance sector.
Vodacom Group CEO Pieter Uys says the two companies want to cross-sell and bundle financial services and mobile products. He says the partnership will also extend to other parts of Africa where both organisations operate.
Absa had previously entered into a “master airtime agreement” with Vodacom that governs the relationship between the companies. The agreement followed a similar one signed by their UK-based parent companies, Vodafone and Barclays, in July 2010.
Vodacom already works closely with Absa rival Nedbank to deliver its M-Pesa mobile payments system. — Staff reporter, TechCentral