It has been interesting watching WeChat’s push to entrench itself not just in South Africa but across the African continent. Because it is perceived as direct competition to Whatsapp, which has had a significant head start in establishing itself as the leading IM service globally, the WeChat Africa team, based in SA, have made strategic moves to find other ways of penetrating the respective markets. In SA, this has involved initiatives like the partnership with the Cape Town based “on-demand goods collection and delivery service” Picup, which I wrote about after attending an event earlier this year. Picup The Little Things

While they have had a wallet as part of the app – I’ve had about R200 languishing in there since the Picup event – they have upgraded it to a fully-fledged digital wallet service – WeChat Wallet. I like that, at the launch event for the Wallet, they structured the evening to demonstrate its full capabilities, including food stalls and a bar where you had to purchase using the app as well as a little head-to-head battle between DJ Fresh and Euphonik where you donated cash to decide who would play longer. They had screens showing how much had been ‘pledged’. To avoid reluctance to spend our own money at the launch, we were given a QR code to scan which then ensured we had some money in our wallets to start with.

They have partnered with Standard Bank, who are backing the digital wallet which enables you to send cash to others and make cash payments, primarily at Snapscan merchants. I was on the MTN Business App of the Year awards judging panel when Snapscan was named App of the Year 2013 and the fact that it was incubated in a smaller space, like Stellenbosch, helped them iron out the bugs. They state that they are now available at 20,000 merchants across the country. I’m curious to see how they can truly penetrate the retail space more comprehensively, which would bode well for WeChat Wallet.

Other features of the Wallet include:

  • Purchase things like airtime and electricity within WeChat itself.
  • Load cash into your wallet and transact by adding details for your chip and PIN debit or credit cards (maximum of three) and, from a security perspective, transactions are verified by VISA and MasterCard.
  • Send cash to people without needing a bank account with the ability to Cash Out at Standard Bank ATMs and retailers such as SPAR, Cambridge, Rhino and Choppies. When you register, you become an Instant Money user and to cash out at an ATM, the Wallet generates an Instant Money voucher, the details of which you can enter into the ATM and receive your cash. I did have an instance where I didn’t receive my cash but the amount was reloaded to my Wallet and I was able to withdraw afterwards.

To register for WeChat Wallet: “Simply log into WeChat, tap ‘Me’, then tap ‘Wallet’ and follow the step-by-step instructions. The service is only available to South Africans who are 16 or older with a valid ID number and are using iOS or Android phones.”

On different note, nice to see Tawela, who was in a show I’m judging on E-TV called She’s The One SA (yeah, I’m becoming a professional judge) featured in the ad.

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About Kojo Baffoe

Of Ghanaian/German heritage, raised in Lesotho and currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Kojo is the proverbial slashie, the professional ‘jack of all trades.’ He is an entrepreneur, writer, facilitator, content architect, former men’s magazine editor and speaker. He has a Bachelor of Commerce (1994) with majors in Economics, Marketing and Business Administration from the former the University of Natal (Durban), now University of KwaZulu-Natal.

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