Vodacom Group is targeting a 27% expansion in its financial services customer base to 73 million by March 2024, it said on Monday, as it reported a 5.1% fall in half-year earnings.
Shares in the group, which is majority owned by Britain’s Vodafone, dropped more than 2%.
Mobile phone operators like Vodacom have been pushing into financial services in Africa, where many do not have good access to traditional banking.
The company said it hopes its newly launched VodaPay digital financial services “super app” and mobile money service M-Pesa will help drive the uptake of financial services.
VodaPay currently provides business loans, device insurance and funeral cover, while M-Pesa provides services including lending, insurance and payments.
In future, VodPay will also offer loans and savings, international money transfer, QR code payments and person-to-person payments, Vodacom said.
In the six months to 30 September, the group’s financial services customers, including those of Kenyan subsidiary Safaricom, hit 57.3 million, and the division posted a service revenue jump of 22.7%, almost 10% of its total in Africa.
To reach its target, the company will need to add roughly eight million customers for the next two years.
“We’d like to increase our penetration of financial services through all our markets, including South Africa and of course now Egypt and Ethiopia as well,” CEO Shameel Joosub said in an interview.
Key to growth
“We see that as key to our growth,” he said. He did not comment on how much revenue that would bring
Given the high level of smartphone penetration in Egypt, Vodacom wants to expand its VodaPay platform there, where it is buying a 55% stake in Vodafone Egypt.
Its headline earnings per share, the main profit measure in South Africa, fell to R5.05, hit by foreign exchange headwinds and a tax-related one-off charge.
Group service revenue increased 5.4% to R38.9-billion, while operating profit rose 5.7% to R14.1-billion, both on a normalised basis.
It plans to invest more than R10.5-billion in its network in South Africa until March 2022, it said. — (c) 2021 Reuters