Apple this week began selling iTunes Store and App Store vouchers in South Africa through Pick n Pay retail outlets, TechCentral has established. They will soon be available through iStore, Hi-Fi Corp, Makro, Dion Wired and Game outlets, too.
The iTunes Store and App Store vouchers will be available in three denominations each, R150, R250 and R450. There will also be a “variable denomination” voucher available at selected stores, including iStore outlets, where shoppers will be able decide the value — anything between R150 and R5 000 — at the point of sale.
The vouchers are being made available through a local company called OpenGate, which specialises in providing services to issuers of private-label gift and payment cards and businesses that operate online.
OpenGate’s head of channel partners, Bradley Turkington, tells TechCentral that the project to sell iTunes and App Store vouchers in South Africa has been underway since 2012. He explains that Apple wanted the cards to be made available initially in South African stores that sell Apple products. They will become available at other retailers later.
Turkington explains that OpenGate has an exclusive relationship with a Nasdaq-listed company called Blackhawk Network, which is contracted to Apple, allowing it to sell the vouchers in South Africa.
He emphasises that the vouchers will only work in the South African version of the App Store and the iTunes Store. Anyone with a US iTunes account, for example, will not be able to use the vouchers to buy music. “It’s been ring-fenced for exchange control reasons,” he says. “You buy in rand and spend in rand and we remit the funds in terms of exchange control regulations.”
Although many South Africans use their credit cards to buy music and apps from Apple, Turkington believes there is still a big market for physical vouchers. He says there is a prepaid culture in South Africa, even among people with bank accounts and credit cards. And many people are still averse to using their credit cards online.
In addition, vouchers have a strong appeal in the youth market. Parents are reluctant to hand over their credit card details to their children to shop on iTunes, so vouchers may prove appealing.
Gifting is also a big market, Turkington says. OpenGate has plans to offer iTunes vouchers in the corporate gifting market, too.
Meanwhile, Apple is rumoured to be planning to introduce games to the South African App Store soon. Technology site htxt.africa said on Thursday that it appeared the company was clearing the way to the long-awaited introduction of games in the local store.
Taryn Hyam, communications manager at Core Group, Apple’s South African distributor, says only that the company doesn’t have further information available yet. “Nothing is confirmed from our side,” she says. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media