Thato Ramahooa

Maseru – Vodacom Lesotho is now a fully fledged financial services provider – it can take deposits, lend, and send and receive money to and from the kingdom – and all this is licensed by the Central Bank of Lesotho.

The mobile giant announced this milestone on Monday through the company’s Managing Director Mr Mohale Ralebitso in Maseru.

Vodacom M-pesa’s division will now operate under a new independent company dubbed VCL Financial Services following the authorization.

Since its introduction in 2013, Mpesa has grown from strength to strength from 1,900 registered customers to over one million with monthly transactions valued over LSL 1 billion.

Mr Ralebitso said the mobile money platform’s evolution has come a long way to where it is today.

“M-pesa has come so far as a revolutionary financial service and driver of financial inclusion and economic empowerment, initially with only two products and now it offers everything from savings and insurance products to cross border transfers and ticketing amongst others,” said Mr Ralebitso.

He said they now have 8, 000 and more than 3, 000 merchants nation wide given M-pesa’s ‘phenomenal’ success even against the backdrop of the global economic melt down.

VCL Financial Sevices Head Ms Palesa Mphunyetsane said “this move enables the brand to further diversify its product offering, with the aim of becoming a fully fledged financial services institution.”

She said it would also see them to helping solve a number of societal challenges regarding payments and collections.

“Our focus will be on savings and investments, lending solutions for individuals, small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), wealth management, payments and collections and the digitization of services.

“From a customer’s point of view, all branding, support structures, contacts and infrastructures will remain the same. VCL Financial Services will also place significant emphasis on ensuring that enhanced governance and controls are put in place through the establishment of various departments, including risk, internal auditing and anti money laundering and by strengthening strategic partnerships with relevant institutions,” Ms Mphunyetsane stated.

The giant communications company started operations in Lesotho 25 years ago. It is owned by the Vodacom Group (80 percent) with 20 percent shareholding owned by Sekhametsi Consortium which is a local company.

Despite its challenges, by 31st March 2020, Vodacom had recorded a revenue growth of 5.3 per cent largely driven by success in M-pesa and data services.