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Vodacom to offer Africa’s first super-app alongside Alibaba

Vodacom Group Ltd. has developed Africa’s first super-app with help from China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., allowing subscribers a broad range of services including taking out loans, shopping online and making standard mobile payments.The app, called VodaPay, will be available to South African customers in coming weeks, and will help Vodacom expand financial and e-commerce services in its home market in the absence of new high-speed broadband spectrum. The app is comparable to Tencent Holding Ltd.’s WeChat, used by more than a billion people, Chief Executive Officer Shameel Joosub said in an interview.“The world is moving toward e-commerce, and while leveraging off what we already have we also need to grow that side,” he said.Mobile operators in Africa have invested heavily in financial technology to fill a gap left by a lack of physical banking infrastructure. Vodacom’s Johannesburg rival, MTN Group Ltd., is looking to carve out and possibly list its financial-services business, while Airtel Africa Plc is looking at similar options.Vodacom, majority owned by the U.K.’s Vodafone Group Plc, is looking to expand its financial-technology offering in South Africa while waiting for the government’s long-promised auction of spectrum, which it says is needed to expand broadband service and bring down data prices. The super-app partnership also represents an expansion opportunity for Alipay, which has been battling an antitrust probe in China.

Source: Further Africa

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