In November 2009 I suggested you should watch M-Pesa, Vodacom and Nedbank. I was right (according to 702). I guess it could be said it was fairly obvious? With all the cross-over in board members, owners, and the move of Rob Shuter from Nedbank to Vodacom, it was really just a matter of time.
Last week on the Africa Report on 702 the news was announced that M-Pesa is here. It’s going to be an interesting happening to watch in South Africa. I wonder if they’ll be able to do to financial services (specifically retail banking) what M-Pesa did in Kenya? If so, we’re in for a shake up.
My only question mark is that a bank is involved (Nedbank)? From my understanding of the Kenyan story of M-Pesa, the reason it succeeded so well and changed the game, is because no bank was involved. The innovation came from outside of financial service institutions. I’m not sure they (Nedbank or any bank) have the entrepreneurial ability to do in South Africa what M-Pesa has done in Kenya? It remains one of the most fantastic stories of how mobile phones have significantly changed people’s lives.
To listen to the 702 – Africa Report PodCast, click here.
Barrie, the key in South Africa will be the granting of a banking license to a non-bank. This is what is holding things back. In Kenya, cellphone companies can take deposits and offer withdrawals to cellphone SIM card based accounts. That’s still illegal in South Africa. Well, it is under certain circumstances. There are some organisations getting around the banking laws by not charging or paying interest and working as co-operatives.
Hopefully, a big retail bank is not going to mess this up in South Africa. Hopefully Nedbank will allow this to flourish as a banking alternative for the non-banked masses. That would be brilliant!