VO­DA­COM RELAUNCHES M-PESA

Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions gi­ant takes a sec­ond chance with the money trans­fer ser­vice. This time, it prom­ises an im­proved prod­uct with a new bank­ing part­ner and greater ben­e­fits, writes Neesa Mood­ley- Isaacs

CityPress - - Business -

Trans­fer­ring money to your loved ones is a fairly sim­ple and in­ex­pen­sive process if you use a money trans­fer ser­vice. One of the first en­trants in the mar­ket, Vo­da­com’s M-Pesa, has just re­launched its of­fer­ing with a new bank­ing part­ner and with sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved ben­e­fits.

M-Pesa has am­bi­tious plans to roll out 30 000 pointsof-pres­ence by De­cem­ber from the cur­rent of­fer­ing of 8 000. This is great news for con­sumers be­cause the money trans­fer mar­ket just got a lot more com­pet­i­tive.

Hem­manth Singh, man­ag­ing ex­ec­u­tive for m-com­merce at Vo­da­com, says M-Pesa is sign­ing up as many as 100 new points-of-pres­ence a day so the of­fer­ing will be in full force by the time the festive sea­son rolls around.

“Money trans­fer is the way of the future. It’s the cheap­est, safest way to carry cash. Your ac­count is PIN pro­tected and this is one of the cheap­est bank ac­counts avail­able at a flat fee of R5, plus R1 per R100 with­drawn at an ATM,” says Singh.

De­posits are free, re­gard­less of which method you want to use – your phone at a par­tic­i­pat­ing store, in­ter­net bank­ing or us­ing an M-Pesa voucher in the same way you would load air­time in de­nom­i­na­tions of R20, R50, R100 or R200.

A cash with­drawal at the point of sale will set you back R2.50, plus R1 for ev­ery R100 with­drawn. If you trans­fer money to other M-Pesa cus­tomers, it will cost you R1 and if the re­cip­i­ent is not a reg­is­tered cus­tomer or uses an­other net­work, it will cost you R4 to send them money via M-Pesa.

Your phone num­ber acts as your ac­count num­ber. If you lose your phone, or it is stolen, your ac­count is PIN pro­tected and you sim­ply no­tify the M-Pesa call cen­tre to tem­po­rar­ily sus­pend your ac­count.

“We’re us­ing mul­ti­ple store part­ners and M-Pesa cus­tomers will be able to cash in and cash out their money trans­fer at any num­ber of stores and at any bank ATM of their choice,” says Singh.

“Why should con­sumers be re­stricted to just one net­work or just one bank?”

The sin­gle re­strict­ing fac­tor is that if you want to send money via M-Pesa, you must be a Vo­da­com cus­tomer.

How­ever, re­cip­i­ents can be on any cell­phone net­work and use any bank ATM of their choice to col­lect the money you send to them.

When M-Pesa launched in South Africa four years ago, its bank­ing part­ner was Ned­bank. How­ever, the of­fer­ing was not widely taken up.

“With only 800 out­lets, we didn’t have enough agen­cies on the ground and the reg­is­tra­tion process was cum­ber­some. So this time, we are go­ing all out to make the M-Pesa ser­vice as ac­ces­si­ble as pos­si­ble,” says Singh.

The reg­is­tra­tion process has also been stream­lined. The new bank­ing part­ner is Bid­vest, but clients are not re­stricted to us­ing only Bid­vest ATMs.

Re­tail part­ners this time around in­clude Spar, Mr Price, Sho­prite, Ed­con and the Fos­chini Group (which in­cludes Markhams, Tru­worths and Due­south stores). M-Pesa is also in dis­cus­sions with Pick n Pay, Wool­worths and Pep.

BEN­E­FITS

Ev­ery time you pur­chase air­time us­ing your M-Pesa ac­count, Vo­da­com will dou­ble the amount of air­time you have bought.

For ex­am­ple, if you buy R100 air­time, the value loaded will ac­tu­ally be R200. The catch is that you have to use the air­time loaded on the same day. Ac­cord­ing to Singh, the most com­mon air­time reload is R5 daily.

Be­fore any trans­ac­tion is con­cluded, you are told of the cost and asked if you wish to con­tinue, so all costs are dis­closed up­front in real time. There is also an M-Pesa store lo­ca­tor on the M-Pesa menu on your cell­phone, so you can iden­tify the near­est par­tic­i­pat­ing M-Pesa store.

LIM­ITS

To use M-Pesa, you have to be a South African ci­ti­zen aged 16 or older, with a valid iden­tity doc­u­ment. If you only use your phone to trans­act, trans­ac­tions are limited to R1 000 a day or R13 000 a month.

If you use your M-Pesa card to trans­act, the lim­its in­crease to R5 000 a day. You must main­tain a min­i­mum bal­ance of R25.

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