So payment apps are rad right, but are they really practical in SA? At best our data connections on our phones are flaky and I for one find a battle for signal the major downfall when paying for a payment app.
Vodacom seemed to figure that one out and has re-launched their mobile wallet m-pesa. It might sound familiar because it was around in 2010 but for various reasons didn’t work out. The cellphone giant went back to the drawing board and changed a few things. Here’s why I’m thinking it may be an option over some of its app counterparts.
It’s sms based more than anything. You don’t need to download an app. Not everyone is running around with a smartphone. So signing up to m-pesa is as simple as dialling *111# from your cellphone and following the prompts.
It costs you around R1 to send money while depositing and receiving cash is free. So it suits teenagers and students who are always scraping and scrimping for cash and airtime. Talking about airtime, you earn freebies when you transact with m-pesa. Who doesn’t like a freebie right?
I was able to purchase a R50 m-pesa voucher from my local petrol garage (which I can walk to). Once I loaded the voucher I had R50 to spend. While linking up to a credit or debit card is far easier, I felt a bit safer loading up airtime.
There’s also a R10 Visa card that you can purchase. That’s right R10. You can load money on to it and use it wherever card payments are accepted. I think this might be a rather nifty way to teach your kids about using a card and also could be much safer.
The bottom line is we live in a country where the majority of our population live below the breadline. We may have some of the highest numbers when it comes to cellphone users, but those phones are not the high end ones. They’re what most of us would call “old school” Nokias or hand me down Blackberries. That’s why I think m-pesa is a logical phone payment wallet for SA. Plus, it’s really affordable and easy to use (and I can say that because I did use it!). Take a look:
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