Vodacom identified mobile money service m-Pesa as a growth engine but its 2014/15 results showed this to be truer internationally than in South Africa.
The Johannesburg-based operator reported growth of 34 per cent to 8 million active m-Pesa users outside its home market, with revenue growth of 27.5 per cent in the 12 months to end-March 2015.
The group talked up its achievements over the past 12 months, which included the launch of a mobile-based savings and loans package called m-Pawa with the Commercial Bank of Africa in Tanzania. Active users of m-Pawa now count 1.8 million. The group has also debuted international money transfer services.
Yet, Vodacom conceded, m-Pesa was only “slowly gaining traction” in its largest market of South Africa. It has one million registered customers there and just 76,000 actively using the service (judged to be a user who has generated revenue relating to m-Pesa in the past 90 days). Given the size of the South African market, the take-up looks sub-par.
Vodacom’s international operations are in Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and in Lesotho. Tanzania is its most successful mobile money market.
The group does not operate m-Pesa in Kenya, where the service has proved a massive success in recent years. The Kenyan service is offered by Safaricom.
Vodacom is eager to locate new sources of revenue, given traditional ones appear to be in a state of flux. Data services are another encouraging area where revenue grew by 25 per cent in 2014/15.
While total revenue at the company – one of Africa’s leading operators – rose by 2.1 per cent to ZAR77.3 billion ($6.5 billion) for the twelve months, service revenue only grew by 0.2 per cent to ZAR62.2 billion.