Mobile payment firm MobiCash (not related to Kenya’s MobiKash) has partnered with cellphone payments company Boloro to launch in South Africa allowing townships and spaza shops to accept mobile payments days after Vodacom announced that it’s shutting down its M-Pesa business in the country.
Though the exit of M-Pesa can’t be celebrated, MobiCash and Boloro are hopeful that the latest platform, aimed for the largely informal township and communal market in South Africa, could yield a breakthrough in a market that has largely lagged behind.
According to Patrick Ngabonziza, chairman of MobiCash, “We are proud to collaborate with our partners to bring a holistic ecosystem that not only has the potential to boost small business but also has the potential to impact entire communities as we have seen in our home country Rwanda.”
Ngabonziza said under the partnership between the two companies, small-scale retail businesses in SA townships will now be able to “offer secure, consumer friendly, handset agnostic, merchant initiated payments using MobiCash.
The platform is securitised by “multi-factor biometric authentication together with Boloro’s secure pin authentication that uses network initiated USSD messaging.
MobiCash and Boloro are already working with South African retail chain Big Save, which plans to roll out the mobile payment system across its thousands of spaza community members.
“Our challenge has always been cash replacement in a cost-effective way,” said Johnny Jardim, financial director at the Big Save Group. There are plans to expand the platform to encompass other acceptance such as conveniently paying for taxi fares and secure online payments, seen as boosting the South African township and urban “payments ecosystem even faster”.
Ann Camarillo, chief executive officer of the New York City based Boloro Global group said the partnership was geared “democratise financial access for disenfranchised communities, offer secure payments and resolve the pain-points associated with carrying cash”.
Mobile money, though, has not taken off in South Africa as much as it has in the rest of Africa, according to experts. Vodacom had introduced M-Pesa in South Africa in 2010 but it canned the product in SA this week as only 70 000 customers took up the service.
Other countries such as Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria have largely switched on to mobile money and other digital payments platforms and this has boosted financial inclusion