Absa has 12 million customers, while Vodacom has over 43 million and has had an existing relationship in the form of the “Master Airtime Agreement”. This followed the Master Service Agreement signed by UKbased parent companies, Vodafone and Barclays, in July last year. According to Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys, the collaboration has the potential to help both companies build their positions on the African continent. Vodacom already shares a working relationship with Nedbank, for the M-Pesa mobile payments system. According to reports, the contract is valued in excess of R800 million. Absa’s chief executive for retail banking, Gavin Opperman, says the deal will help the bank fulfil its objective of working strategically with mobile operators to enhance the propositions delivered to its customers. Some of the innovations that spring from the partnership include a “tap and go” payment system. This partnership could pave the way for Africa’s first extensive NFC network of pay points. Furthermore machine-to-machine (M2M) solutions in the insurance space and consumer education delivered via mobile devices, bundled mobile and financial service offerings and free unstructured supplementary service data. “The collaboration with Vodacom provides Absa with the infrastructure to enable cross-selling and the bundling of products to both organisations’ customers,” said Absa in a statement. The collaboration also allows for the airtime fees on the Cellphone Banking Lite service to be waived for Absa customers. The first phase of the rollout of the “tap-and-go” payment system has been implemented at a coffee shop at Vodacom World in Midrand, where select Vodacom staff can tap their contactless cards against a machine instead of swiping for payment. “The project is expected to lead to developments in the near-field communication arena and usher in a new era of convenience for the customer,” says Opperman. “Our plan is for this system to eventually see the cellular handset become an alternative to cash and cards as payment mechanisms.”
Absa and Vodacom have signed a multimillion-rand deal, which they say will “accelerate the pace of mobile innovation” and expand the range of banking and mobile services available to customers. This deal will also see Absa having access to a substantially larger potential base of clients.