Vodacom recently relaunched m-pesa in South Africa with a renewed focus on having an extensive network of shops and agents to make the service more easily accessible. The revamped m-pesa launched with more than 8,000 agents at both informal outlets and at major retail partners. The plan is to grow that figure to around 30,000 points of presence by the end of the year.
Students who form part of this pilot but do not have cellphones will be issued with entry-level handsets by Vodacom to make sure that they do not miss out.
Eduloan’s existing electronic bursary disbursement system – which is currently enabled by smart card technology – has seen increasing student numbers, as well as an expansion across the various geographical areas, as more institutions and corporates entrust the organisation to manage their bursary funds.
Eduloan recognised the need to further extend its platform to include mobile enablement to ensure ease and accessibility of students accessing such funds. Over and above this Eduloan recognised the need to offer its student a low service cost banking solution to ensure that high charges would not prohibit their ability to access funds/cash required to fulfil their education.
Herman Singh, Vodacom’s Managing Executive: mCommerce, said: “Vodacom’s strategy with m-pesa is predicated on strategic partnerships and alliances. The Eduloan venture is a logical alliance as it brings together the fastest growing mobile payment instrument in the country with one of the largest players in the student payment, benefit and loan industry.”
“The strategic fit is excellent as it draws on the relative strengths of both firms. It allows Vodacom m-pesa to enter the new and exciting market on campus and in schools, and allows Eduloan to migrate to a lower-cost and more feature-rich platform than it would be able to execute on its own. This gives Eduloan the benefit of lower risks as well as improved customer satisfaction,” adds Singh.
The process is simple. Students can open an m-pesa account by dialling *111# and follow the prompts. Eduloan will then deposit allowances or stipends funds directly into the students’ m-pesa account. This gives students access to a safe payment service to make cash deposits, do person-to-person transfers and make purchases using any POS device.
m-pesa includes an optional Visa card, meaning that mobile money can be used by students to pay for purchases at any store that accepts card payments. Other new uses of m-pesa include the ability to deposit and withdraw cash at 27,000 ATMs and over 240,000 merchant outlets in South Africa. In the near future it will also be possible to purchase prepaid electricity using m-pesa.
Charlotte Smit, Eduloan’s Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, says: “Key to Eduloan’s positioning is to ensure convenience and accessibility. This does not only come in the form of affordability of loans, but very much so in terms of access to and fulfilment of funds for students – whether this is in the form of a loan, bursary or cash.”
Smith added, “Vodacom’s m-pesa offering provides a simple yet secure, cost-effective and controlled banking platform that offers convenience and immediacy. The rapid recharging and loading of allowances from sponsor/parent enabled by m-pesa is a much needed benefit to the student. Furthermore, the additional offering of access to data and airtime, which assists students with research and collaboration, is exactly what Eduloan’s customers need.”
“m-pesa undoubtedly provides the innovation, simplicity and accessibility needed for the Eduloan market,” says Smit.