Vodacom Group joined forces with digital payment platform Alipay to create a so-called superapp for South Africa which will offer personalised financial, business and lifestyle services from 2021.

In a statement, Vodacom explained they would deliver “a market place of goods and services tailored to the South African customer needs underpinned by a progressive digital payments ecosystem” for the banked and unbanked sectors.

Vodacom chief Shameel Joosub described the tie-up as a “significant milestone in promoting greater financial inclusion within the communities in which we operate”, adding it would aid its efforts to “reinvent the mobile fintech ecosystem” in South Africa.

Digital payment services will include purchases, bill payments and money transfers. The app will also handle music streaming, gaming and taxi-booking services.

Vodacom said it will also let small and medium-sized enterprises access lending, insurance and advertising services.

The app will be operated by Vodacom Financial Services, which the company noted had grown from a loss-making entity to a unit with more than 12 million customers which regularly made positive contributions to group earnings in the space of four years.

Vodacom’s move comes four years after it discontinued its m-Pesa mobile money service in South Africa due to failing to build a large-enough user base.

Last month, Japanese operator SoftBank Corp also detailed plans for a superapp, teaming with UK-based Splyt on the move.