South African mobile operator Vodacom has revealed that its mobile payments platform m-Pesa has attracted only 72,000 active subscribers in South Africa since its re-launch in July 2014, TechCentral reports. CEO Shameel Joosub was cited as saying: ‘We’re not really pushing it … We had a couple of challenges on the platform, which we are busy fixing.’ Further, the executive described last year’s re-launch as ‘more of a soft launch’, while stating that he remained convinced that there was still scope for m-pesa to take off in a meaningful way in South Africa. Previously, Vodacom said it hoped to sign up ten million South African subscribers to the m-pesa service within five years of launch.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, Vodacom first introduced m-pesa to the South African market in 2010 and while the initial take up was strong, with more than one million people signing up, it did not enjoy the overwhelming uptake seen in markets like Kenya and Tanzania. A revamped service was re-introduced to the market in July 2014, offering improved functionality and ease of registration, in addition to revamped distribution channel consisting of 8,000 agents (compared to around 800 in 2010). Vodacom also partnered with Bidvest Bank and Visa, which allowed it to add new functionality to the platform in order to address what Vodacom called ‘the specific needs’ of the South African market. As such, it has ended its agreement with Nedbank, which was its launch partner for m-Pesa in 2010.