Vodacom to sell smartphones that lock if you miss payments

Vodacom is partnering with Samsung to sell high-end smartphones to South Africans by allowing customers to pay for their device in monthly instalments.

Speaking during a media event at Vodacom World in Midrand, Vodacom consumer business unit chief officer Jorge Mendes confirmed that the company was partnering with Samsung to offer customers a unique prepaid financing plan.

Through this offering, customers will be able to buy a prepaid Samsung smartphone through Vodacom by paying monthly instalments over a pre-defined period.

If they miss their monthly payment, Vodacom will be able to remotely lock their device, blacking out most of the screen with a constant notification that states they must pay the outstanding balance to unlock their handset.

Mendes said that this layer of security allowed the mobile operator to offer customers prepaid financing without worrying about them missing payments and making off with the device.

Locked with Knox

“We have prepaid handset financing using Knox – we are working with Samsung to start off with,” Mendes said. “If there is credit or debit payment failure we will lock the device.”

Vodacom has partnered with Samsung for this offering, as the manufacturer enables this functionality through its Knox security platform, which also helps to prevent consumers from bypassing the system lock.

When locked, the smartphone’s screen will be almost entirely blacked out and a notification will appear instructing the owner to pay their outstanding instalments.

The smartphone will still be able to receive calls and notifications, but owners will not be able to interact with the device, giving them added incentive to make their payments on time.

Mendes said that customers would receive ample warning before their devices are locked, as well as regular reminders of outstanding payments.

As this solution uses the Knox platform, it will only be available on Samsung smartphones with Knox support.

Devices which feature Knox security include new Samsung Galaxy A Series, S Series, and Note Series smartphones.

Roll-out plans

Mendes said that Vodacom was currently trialling the technology, with around 5,000 units in circulation.

“We are in trial at the moment with around 5,000 units being tested. We are also in discussions with Google to implement this for other Android devices and not just Samsung.”

He noted that consumers who buy these handsets in instalments pay off their devices in an average of 2.7 months, despite the six-month financing term.

“The first instalment happens, and then they find the money to pay for the rest quickly,” Mendes said.

He said that the first Samsung devices to be included in this offer for South Africa would most probably be the new Galaxy A Series devices, which offer high-end features at a lower price than Samsung’s flagship smartphones.

Mendes added that this offer would most probably be launched in January 2020, although it may be available as early as December 2019.

Now read: Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 to launch in April 2020 – Report

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Vodacom to sell smartphones that lock if you miss payments