Photograph — Valora

Leading African technology firm, Cassava Fintech International (CFI), has launched an integrated social payments platform in partnership with Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). The new service, Sasai, is a combination of instant messaging, social media and mobile payments, all into one App. 

Sasai is similar to Asia’s social payments platforms, WeChat. In China, for instance, payment apps are tied together with e-commerce, chat and ride-hailing services offered by firms such as Alibaba and Tencent. 

According to the Group CEO of CFI (a subsidiary of the Econet Group), Darlington Mandivenga, the launch of Sasai is the first time an African company has developed a platform which marks the entrance of social messaging apps into the mobile money payments system.

The development is also in response to the call by the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) for mobile payment operators to embrace convergence with social payment platforms to create value addition for clients.

Targeted at individuals and businesses, it is expected to be available for download from August 1, 2019. However, the initial release will include only Pay, Chat and Explore features with monthly releases scheduled to follow thereafter. The plan is to allow users to familiarise with the basic features of the platform, before subsequent releases which will include queued additional features and on-boarded partners.

“We would like to walk the journey with our customers, listening to their feedback and understanding their needs, instead of front-loading so many, very exciting and game-changing features all at once,” Mandivenga said.

More so, while Chat and Explore features will be instantly available to the public globally, the payment features on Sasai will initially be available through the first partnership arrangement with Econet Wireless Mobile Network Group.

Econet Group only has business operations in Burundi, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe. Thus, additional markets and MNO partnerships will be introduced to Sasai across Africa on an ongoing basis with the aim of having at least eight markets going live by March 2020.

The introduction of Sasai comes on the back of the recent launch of a cross border money transfer service from South Africa to the rest of Africa by Cassava Fintech. Through this service, the company is looking to provide access to over 200 million mobile money wallets and 100 million bank accounts across Africa. The services will also provide last-mile access for remittances from South Africa, the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK).

Mandivenga further described Sasai as a digital platform where social interactions and payments converge. “It stitches and weaves into one platform features and services which are typically offered by separate companies via different mobile apps to become a one-stop-shop without having to leave the app,” the Group CEO said. “Sasai is an All-in-One App to Pay, Chat and Explore.”

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