South Africa's Vodacom bringing 70 businesses onto VodaPay 'super app'

South Africa's Vodacom Group said on Tuesday about 70 businesses had signed up or committed to the mobile operator's new digital financial services "super app" that promises to be a one-stop shop for online transactions.

Last year Vodacom announced a partnership with digital payments provider Alipay to build an app that would allow consumers in South Africa to shop online, pay bills and send money to family members. Alipay is owned by Ant Financial, the financial affiliate of China's Alibaba Group Holdings.

Digital financial services have become a significant part of African telecom operators' businesses after they expanded from traditional voice calls into providing data, mobile payments and other digital services.

In preparation for launching, the next phase of the app, called VodaPay, is bringing merchants and developers onto the platform through what Vodacom calls Mini Programs, Chief Executive Officer Shameel Joosub told reporters.

These third-party downloadable sub applications will run within the VodaPay app. About 350 jobs have been created ranging from IT, product development and operations, Joosub said.

The 70 businesses include Massmart's Makro, Game and Builders Warehouse stores, pharmacy group Clicks, department store chain Edgars, online flight booking firm TravelStart and the KFC fast food chain, Chief Officer of Vodacom Financial and Digital Services, Mariam Cassim, said.

VodaPay provides the infrastructure on which merchants and consumers transact, managing all the login, authorisation and payments processing aspects of their transactions.

Cassim did not name the operator's banking partner but said insurance was offered by Vodacom, which has its own licence.