Vodacom rolls out its revamped mobile money service m-pesa to boost presence in South African payment market.

First launched in Kenya in 2007, m-pesa is now being used by over 18 million people across 13 countries to perform banking and money transfer services using mobile phone; however, its launch in South Africa in 2010 wasn’t quite as the company hoped as it failed to attract customers.

Vodacom has now redesigned the service to address four key areas: distribution, registration, functionality and loyalty.

Speaking about the history of m-pesa in South Africa, Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub said: “When we first launched m-pesa in 2010 we had high hopes that it would have the same kind of transformational impact seen in Kenya.

“We wanted to change the way South Africans handle money for the better. Each country has its own unique needs and challenges, and it has been a learning process getting to understand exactly what will and what won’t work in South Africa.”

With over 8,000 agents at both informal outletsts and at major retail partners, the revised m-pesa service offers an array of completely new elements including a chip and pin protected Visa card, and a voucher system to upload cash.

The new m-pesa Visa card offers access to nearly 27 000 ATMs and over 240 000 merchant outlets in South Africa, considerably increasing the versatility of the service.

The company has also introduced a voucher system which enables users to convert cash to m-pesa at all Vodacom shops, select spaza shops, and select retailers.

Person-to-person transfers will be given additional functionality in the near future. Usage rewards of airtime and other offers, starting with a doubling of airtime when purchasing airtime via M-Pesa, and free airtime for activating the M-Pesa Visa card are also included in the new redesign.