Vodacom’s M-Pesa Relaunch Is a Flop

Friday, May 22, 2015

A second attempt by Vodacom to launch the M-Pesa mobile payments platform in South Africa has flopped.

On Monday, the mobile operator conceded that since it relaunched M-Pesa in the local market last July, it has signed up only 72 000 active customers. It had been hoping for 10m sign-ups in the first five years.

“We’re not really pushing it,” said CEO Shameel Joosub in an interview after the group’s 2015 financial results presentation. “We had a couple of challenges on the platform, which we are busy fixing.”

But Joosub won’t say exactly what’s gone wrong. All he will say when pushed for details on the “challenges” M-Pesa is facing is this: “It’s been different things. We’re fixing all of them. Everything must be 100% perfect.”

He now describes last year’s relaunch as “more of a soft launch”.

He said he remains convinced that there is still scope for M-Pesa to take off in a meaningful way in South Africa, as it has in markets such as Kenya and Tanzania.

M-Pesa was first launched in Kenya in 2007 by Vodacom sister company Safaricom and is now used by tens of millions of people in markets across Africa for mobile banking and money transfer services.

Source: Mobile Money Africa (link opens in a new window)

digital payments