14 February 2011
Social networking firm Mxit has signed an exclusive deal with UCS Group that will see the South African retail software provider’s wiWallet being used to bring mobile payment solutions to Mxit’s 10-million users by the second quarter of the year.
wiWallet is a subsidiary of UCS Group, the largest provider of retail software in South Africa, where the Group services 95% of South Africa’s top retailers.
Mxit CEO Herman Heunis and wiWallet founders Bevan Ducasse and Basie Kok – all graduates from Stellenbosch University – are confident that both companies have the right ingredients to play a significant role in the mobile payments landscape across the continent, starting with South Africa.
“MXit was one of the first mobile IMs (instant messengers), if not the first, in the world to create a virtual voucher economy for our users as early as 2005, purely based on premium rated SMS; but due to operator costs, we were limited to selling small value items only, such as wallpapers, skins and other virtual goods,” Heunis said in a statement last week.
Purchasing more costly items
Heunis said users would be able to use the wiWallet mobile payment gateway and voucher system to purchase more costly items such as airtime, music, games, and even items such as electricity, as well as make in-store purchases in the hospitality and fast moving consumer goods market.
“Our intention is to keep the cost to our users as low as possible and to seamlessly integrate the wiWallet payment gateway into the Mxit application to make payments and transfers of vouchers very simple,” he said.
Heunis added that when looking at M-Pesa in Kenya, which he says has set a benchmark in terms of success criteria, he was confident that they had a good chance of achieving the same level of success with the wiWallet partnership.
Value added services
According to Ducasse, who is also CEO of wiWallet, UCS software is used in more than 15 000 stores throughout South Africa, with more than 20-million consumers interacting with UCS software each month, providing a right platform to leverage their mobile payment gateway.
“Over the last few years our team has, through extensive strategy, development, and perseverance, built a leading, robust mobile payment system, which alongside an established, interactive mobile user base and access to a large retail footprint, provides all the complementary elements required for a successful mobile payments partnership,” Ducasse said.
UCS Group deputy CEO Dean Sparrow said they saw a unique opportunity, dating back to 2006, to build technology that would seamlessly facilitate the offering of value added services for the retailer to their consumers.
They then identified wiWallet and its mobile payment platform, gateway and applications as the mobile technology and associated channel through which value added services (VAS) could be facilitated.
“We believe the combination of wiWallet technology as well as the UCS retail footprint is a strong value proposition for Mxit to accelerate the introduction of mobile payments for VAS and products to their enviable subscriber base,” Sparrow said.
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