Vodacom scraps South African M-Pesa services

Vodacom has discontinued its M-Pesa mobile money service in South Africa, citing a mature market as reasons for its withdrawal.

The mobile money service has proven an extremely popular tool with a continually growing user-base across Africa and other global emerging markets, and now boasts more than 25 million active users after growing by 27% last year. The service facilitates mobile payment and banking services for users in territories with relatively low financial inclusion, and offers bill payments, money transfers and cash withdrawals.

In South Africa, however, Vodacom has deemed its future potential to be limited in comparison to other markets, and as such the operator has moved to pull its availability from the country citing a mature, financially inclusive society as the primary reason.

“Vodacom’s decision is based on the fact that the business sustainability of M-Pesa is predicated on achieving a critical mass of users,” said Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub. “Based on our revised projections and high levels of financial inclusion in South Africa there is little prospect of the M-Pesa product achieving this in its current format in the mid-term.”

Vodacom was quick to highlight the service’s continued growth in its other markets, claiming exponential growth in many including Kenya and Tanzania. Vodacom says the decision to discontinue to M-Pesa in South Africa does not affect customers in Tanzania, Lesotho, Mozambique or the DRC, and that existing customers in SA won’t lose out on their funds.

“Vodacom is fully committed to mitigating any inconvenience to customers impacted by the decision and assures all M-Pesa South Africa customers that their funds remain safe and readily accessible,” said Joosub. “We remain of the opinion that opportunities exist in the Financial Services environment and we will continue to explore these.”

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