Will Vodacom and Absa lead to NFC mobile wallets for South Africans?

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Vodacom and Absa get friendly to deliver value added financial solutions inclusive of “tap & go” NFC mobile wallet

South Africa’s largest retail bank, Absa, and mobile network operator, Vodacom, have put down ink on an agreement to work together towards evolving the mobile banking and financial services for South African consumers. The innovations in question are said to include a “tap and go” payment system which suggests contactless, and is expected to lead to NFC based mobile wallets. The multi-million rand collaboration also plans to provide machine-to-machine solutions in the insurance space and consumer education piped over the network to mobile devices. The duo also intend to supply USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) banking.

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Broadband 8ta vs Telkom

Recently there was an article about how Telkom should abandon its cellular project, 8ta, due to the enormous footprint that MTN and Vodacom has already set. I beg to differ, if Telkom keeps at it I think that in a few years 8ta will be the dominant cellular data provider of the future.

I work work with a lot of clients who depend on affordable data. Sure MTN and Vodacom can drop their prices to compete with 8ta, but how far are they willing to go?

8ta has the backing of Telkom, who, as we all know dominates fixed line voice and data, they are basically the backbone of all telecommunication in South Africa. So although 8ta has big shoes to fill in order to compete with the big two, they have the enormous bandwidth support of Telkom to do it, like their current flagship postpaid data contract of R199p/m for 10gigs of data, no other provider can even come close to that deal. And we will surely see better deals coming from 8ta in the near future.

#MTN #fail becomes #8ta gain

MTN made a billing error on last months bill and despite me paying for what I actually owed and their call centre allegedly putting in place steps to reverse the overcharge and ensure I had continued service, they persistently cut my service this month for ‘non-payment of account’.

It took a lot of irate calls, finger pointing, department blaming and frustration until a 'supervisor’ called Olga eventually called to say the credit had been finally passed and credited to my account - almost 6 weeks after I notified them of the error. It’s not necessarily the people in the call centre at fault but more than likely automated systems and processes that assume the customer is at fault and in the wrong - “*cough* computer says no”.

Given the unpleasant experience and despite being a loyal money-machine customer for the past 10 years, I decided to price up prepaid data options. No surprises, there are cheaper options out there - ones that won’t involve me calling a call centre to buy bundles and deal with a call centre for incorrect billing queries.

I was buying an extra R189 for 500mb data every six weeks or so.

I now get 1gb data from Telkom’s 8ta for R160. For R29 less I get 500mb more.

I posted on hellopeter.com about my positive Telkom experience. Less than 2 hours later they had replied and I had received a call from the branch manager thanking me for my compliment.

These money-making-machines corporates are so used to squeezing their customers for as much as they can get away with and although they have me against a wall due to a binding contract and length of time with a cell number, I am at least able to make my small point by redirecting additional income to someone else - one of the choice of four… Oligopoly anyone?