Mobile money platform M-Pesa has failed to live up to Vodacom’s expectations for the product in SA, Pieter Uys, the group’s CEO, has admitted.
Vodacom has registered “more than” 100 000 M-Pesa users in SA since its launch in August 2010, but says this has fallen short of its expectations for the product. When it unveiled the product last year, Vodacom said it expected to sign up 10m M-Pesa customers within three years — an ambitious target given that SA has a total unbanked population of 13m.
M-Pesa was pioneered by Safaricom, Vodacom’s sister company in Kenya, and has been launched in a number of African markets. It’s proved a big success in Kenya and Tanzania, where banking infrastructure is poorly developed.
In Tanzania, where the product was launched by Vodacom, M-Pesa has 1,6m active and 7m registered users. By last year, Safaricom had more than 10m M-Pesa users on its books.
“SA is a little different to Kenya and Tanzania,” says Vodacom Group CEO Pieter Uys. “The banking sector here is much more developed.”
He says he is “still a strong believer” that M-Pesa will make a “big difference” in SA, and adds that Vodacom is implementing changes to the product in the hope this will help it gain better traction in the market.
Uys hasn’t said what those changes will entail.
Vodacom launched M-Pesa in partnership with Nedbank. It’s understood it had been keen to get its own banking licence to offer the product but was discouraged from doing so by the Registrar of Banks. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral