South African mobile operator Vodacom and Absa, the country’s leading retail bank, are to jointly develop a range of new services, including m-payments and mobile banking. The partners will work on services including a “tap and go” payment system, free banking via the USSD data channel, as well as bundled mobile and financial services. Absa and Vodacom describe the link-up as a “multimillion-rand agreement”, according to Techcentral.
The two companies have started the rollout of a m-payment service through a trial in a coffee shop at Vodacom World in Midrand. Vodacom World is the company’s cellular mall. Initially a number of the operator’s employees will use NFC cards to make payments at the coffee shop but the idea is to graduate the service to handsets based on the same technology.
Pieter Uys (pictured), Vodacom’s chief executive, says a combination of the operator’s infrastructure and the bank’s services will offer “opportunites emerging from specific areas such as cross-selling and bundling of preferential products to our customers.” The two partners had previously signed what they term a master airtime agreement which governs the relationship between the two companies.