• Vodacom is partnering with Chinese firm Alipay to develop a fintech 'super app'.
  • Details are scarce but the company wants to launch it early next year.
  • It wants the app to be a 'marketplace' for consumers and merchants.
  • It's not the first time the company has tried to enter the SA fintech space.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Vodacom just announced a partnership with the biggest fintech company in the world to develop a “super app” for payments in South Africa.

The company will be working with Alipay, which is owned by Chinese firm Ant Financial Services Group, the highest-valued fintech company in the world. Alipay has 1.2 billion customers worldwide.

Vodacom is planning to launch the app early next year. Details of the new platform are still scarce, with Vodacom only saying it wants to “bring to life a marketplace of goods and services tailored to the South African customer needs”. The system will be “underpinned by a progressive digital payments ecosystem designed to serve both the banked and unbanked parts of the population”.

Until we can finally test the app, it remains to be seen what exactly Vodacom is intending. However, as the company says “customers and merchants will all find each other on one affordable platform”, it sounds like e-commerce will be a big part of it.

Vodacom could even be taking notes from Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, where consumers can order goods - and even raw materials - direct from suppliers. Alibaba, it should be noted, owns a significant chunk of Ant and Alipay. But it’s all speculation until the app is released.

It’s not the first time Vodacom has tried to enter the fintech space in South Africa. Four years ago, the company pulled the plug on the South Africa version of M-Pesa after it failed to reach a “critical mass of users”.

M-Pesa is still going strong in markets such as Kenya and Tanzania. The new Alipay app will only be available in South Africa, while the other markets will continue to have M-Pesa, Vodacom said.

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