Absa and Vodacom today announced a multi-million rand agreement which they hope will accelerate the pace of mobile innovation and expand the range of banking and mobile services on offer to consumers.
These innovations include a “tap and go” payment system, machine-to-machine (telemetry) solutions in the insurance space and consumer education delivered via mobile devices, bundled mobile and financial service offerings and free Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) banking.
According to Absa’s Chief Executive for Retail Bank, Gavin Opperman, this deal helps Absa to fulfil its objective of working strategically with mobile operators to enhance the propositions delivered to its customers.
“The collaboration with Vodacom provides Absa with the infrastructure to enable cross-selling and the bundling of products to both organisations’ customers. By working together, each company will be leveraging collective resources, expertise, infrastructure and new technologies to consistently deliver valuable services to its customers,” Absa said in a press statement.
Absa customers are already benefitting from the collaboration with the scrapping of airtime fees on its Cellphone Banking Lite service – an offering that works on any model of handset and allows clients to request mini-statements and balances, purchase airtime, electricity and make CashSend (cardless ATM) payments.
“Absa has also rolled out the first phase of a ‘tap-and-go’ payment system at Coffee Connection, Vodacom World in Midrand. As part of this pilot programme, select Vodacom staff members can now simply tap their special ‘tap-and-go’ card against a machine instead of swiping it for payment,” says Opperman.
“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. Our plan is for this system to eventually see the cellular handset become an alternative to cash and cards as payment mechanisms.”
He adds that machine-to-machine innovations that will serve as early warning mechanisms in the insurance space are also in the pipeline.
“By using Vodacom’s infrastructure in conjunction with what Absa offers, we also envisage opportunities emerging from specific areas such as cross-selling and bundling of preferential products to our customers,” says Pieter Uys, Vodacom’s Chief Executive Officer.
Uys highlights the potential for this collaboration to help both companies build their positions on the African continent especially with their existing operations in a number of African countries.
Absa, with over 12 million customers, and Vodacom, with over 43 million customers, had previously entered into a “Master Airtime Agreement” (MAA), an agreement which governs the relationship between the two companies and serves to further strengthen their existing association.
The MAA follows a master service agreement (MSA) signed between UK-based parent companies Vodafone and Barclays in July 2010.