Summary: MXit revealed their plans to offer specials, connect their users to merchants, and provide competitive fees with their mobile wallet set to launch before October.
“Mobile phones won’t be so much phone anymore, social networks won’t be so much social anymore,” said MXit’s Juan du Toit, opening his presentation at iWeek 2011, a conference organised by ISPA and Uniforum SA, which was held in Centurion this year.
Over the course of his presentation, du Toit who is the head of international business development and marketing at MXit, explained that they believe:
- Social networks are becoming people’s portal to the rest of the web;
- The aim of social networking for a company is to be there when customers come looking, but not to be in their face; and
- Social commerce gives shoppers useful tools to make better and more informed choices.
With this in mind, MXit’s impending launch of its new digital mobile wallet and their stated intentions around it seem like a natural fit.
MXit, which boasts that it has 35 million registered accounts and 11 million active users, is certainly not the first player to offer a mobile wallet in SA, and their announcement that they’ll be entering the space isn’t new. However, du Toit did answer questions regarding their expected launch window and what they plan to offer that sets them apart.
Whenever there is a discussion of mobile money services in South Africa, the example of M-Pesa in Kenya invariably gets mentioned, where Safaricom, in which Vodafone is a stakeholder, dominate the mobile money space.
Although South Africa has a host of mobile money providers to choose from, none of the local services, including Vodacom’s M-Pesa deployment, have gained the traction they may have hoped for from the example set by M-Pesa in Kenya.
Du Toit answered the question on this observation with questions of his own:
- Why can’t we give you discount on your next purchase?
- Why can’t we help you manage your budget?
He explained that there are two important elements they had considered to set themselves apart: fee structure and functionality.
The cost of getting money in and out of the wallet, and the cost of distributing money are important factors, du Toit said.
“If we could give it away for free we would,” said du Toit.
Based on du Toit’s presentation and answers to questions, MXit aims to put its users in direct contact with merchants, allowing purchases of not just electronically delivered goods such as airtime, electricity, and music, but physical goods as well.
Asked about which merchants will be on MXit when they launch, du Toit said that they will only be revealing specifics on the day they launch.
He was willing to provide the categories, with examples, that they aim to have available:
- Fast food outlets (for example, Hungry lion, Kauai)
- Retailers: (for example, Engen quick shop, Spar, Checkers)
One challenge, du Toit explained, is that it is hard work to integrate with the point of sale systems of these merchants.
MXit are hoping make a launch announcement within the next two weeks. Du Toit said that they are beta testing MXit Wallet right now and want to launch before October.