South African operator Vodacom has sought to address the shortcomings that led to a disappointing launch for M-Pesa in the country first time around, and found some new partners.
Among the weaknesses it has identified are an insufficient number of agents taking and receiving payments, and complexity of service registration.
In addition, this time the operator has teamed up with South African conglomerate Bidvest and credit card giant Visa.
A relaunch has been on the cards for some time and more details were revealed at a media briefing last week.
“Vodacom introduced M-Pesa to South Africa in 2010 and while the initial take up was strong with more than one million people signing up, it hasn’t so far enjoyed the overwhelming uptake seen in markets like Kenya and Tanzania,” said CEO Shameel Joosub in a statement.
“It’s not good enough to have an agent at the nearest big town or at a handful of big retail outlets. Kenya and Tanzania taught us that if you need to take a taxi to use the service, it will fail. Instead, you need to have agents where people live and work,” added Joosub.
The relaunch involves 8,000 agents at both informal outlets and at major retail partners. This is ten times the amount that the service was launched with in 2010, pointed out Tech Central. The aim is to reach 30,000 by year end.
Registration is now also simpler. Users can self-register via mobile phone by inputting their name and ID. Previously, it was a more cumbersome process involving users presenting their ID in person at a limited number of locations.
The service also has a number of new features, including a Chip-and-PIN Visa card.
Vodacom’s first run at M-Pesa was done via a partnership with local financial institution Nedbank. The agreement between the two companies was ended by the operator.