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Vodacom launches Financial Service

…as M-Pesa launches as independent financial services provider

Seabata Mahao

The Central Bank of Lesotho has licenced giant telecommunications company Vodacom Lesotho (VCL)’s financial services arm Vodacom M-pesa as an independent financial services provider trading as VCL Financial Services, the telecommunications company announced.

The M-Pesa service which was launched in 2013 and has attracted over 1 million users, with monthly transactions valued at over M1 billion would now offer independent financial services.

Speaking at the event pf the unveiling in Maseru his week, VCL Managing Director, Mohale Ralebitso said that, M-Pesa has come far as a revolutionary financial services provider and driver of financial inclusion and economic empowerment.

“Initially, only two products were available, but now M-Pesa offers everything from savings and insurance products to cross-border transfers and ticketing, amongst others.

“…we now have over 8,000 agents and more than 3,000 merchants across the country. Given M-Pesa’s phenomenal success, even against the backdrop of global economic decline, the natural next step was to make M-Pesa an independent entity, ensuring that it is well-positioned to deliver on its growth ambitions,” said Ralebitso.

The MD stressed that M-Pesa and mobile money is important because without financial access, the economy would decline thus forcing the country’s money to lose value.

He indicated that the telecommunications giant was looking to reach each Mosotho at every corner of the country.

“We are looking forward to the day where everyone is able to not only transact but use the M-Pesa platform to run their businesses as well as other identifying opportunities through the platform,” he stressed.

Lebola Lebete, Chairperson of the company’s Board of Directors noted that 2021 was a momentous year in the 25 years of Vodacom’s existence.

“In line with international trends, we increased our penetration by improving our operational and commercial infrastructure and systems to provide better services,” Lebete said.  

He explained that, Vodacom Lesotho board of Directors took cautious decisions to recommend the separation of M-Pesa operations to effectively satisfy the dual purpose of complying with regulatory requirement, “as well as enhancing our desire in the financial services unit to make more efficient and effective in addressing national and individual financial management needs.”

“The desire includes more official governance and management innovations yet convenient systems, processes and equipment as well as the deployment of taking down operational mechanism to support secure stable and user-friendly financial technology services.

“Our technology strategy depends on tight systems to ensure the integrity and safety of data, mismanagement and interoperability to support addition of new features to our mobile money solutions to support e-commerce, e-government, e-payment and e-services at national level as well as the products tailored from the individuals,” he said.

Palesa Mphunyetsane, previous M-Pesa Executive Head and now VCL Financial Services Head, emphasised that the move enables the brand to further diversify in its product offering, with the aim of becoming a fully-fledged financial services institution.

“This will see us bringing more solutions to the market, helping to address a number of societal challenges regarding payments and collections. Our focus will be on savings and investments lending solutions for individuals and small, medium, and micro enterprises SMMEs wealth management payments and collections and the digitisation of services. From a customer point of view, all branding, support structures, contacts and infrastructure will remain the same,” said Ms. Mphunyetsane. 

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