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You can now pay for your meals via MXit

Popular instant messaging service, MXit, is expanding its mobile payment system. Last year the service signed an exclusive agreement with wiWallet, that made it possible for MXit’s 10-million+ active South African users to make use of its mobile payment services.

wiWallet is a subsidiary of UCS Group Limited (“UCS”), a provider of retail software within South Africa, that services 95% of SA’s retailers.

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When MXit originally announced its partnership with wiWallet it said it wanted to “replace our existing Moola payment platform as it is geared to handle millions of micro-payments daily, but to complement it with the wiWallet mobile payment gateway and voucher system to enable our users to purchase more costly items such as airtime, electricity, music, games, as well as make in-store purchases in the hospitality and FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) market.”

Now MXit’s mobile payment system, dubbed M2, is rolling out to restaurants, allowing users to pay for meals using the platform.

MXit’s payments system previously worked as an in-app purchase model. Users could previously only purchase digital content from the platform. People can now purchase outside the platform through a pin system.

“The pilot for this is just in Stellenbosch and we have a few restaurants signed up and quite a bit in the queue. The restaurants are happy and so are we,” says MXit’s new CEO Alan Knott-Craig Jnr.

Knott-Craig bought MXit in late 2011 for an undisclosed sum from founder Herman Heunis and emerging markets internet giant Naspers.

The mobile youth messaging service operates in 128 countries. It is represented in international markets that include Malaysia, Kenya, India, Indonesia, United Kingdom, United States, Nigeria, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain, where users have access to MXit’s chat function.

“We always have our phones, imagine you pitch up at restaurant and realise you’ve forgotten your wallet you can just get out your phone, log in to MXit and pay with your Moola,” says Knott-Craig.

Knott-Craig says there is a very good reason behind MXit’s decision to use a pin system for mobile payments. “I am aware that NFC may never happen. So what we have is the pin system, log in specific the amount you want, you get a pin, give that to the cashier and its done. At the end of every day money gets swiped off from our end just like credit card payments.”

Mobile payment is a key focus for the company as Knott-Craig explains: “We have three core focuses, the communications platform, the payment platform and the API.”

The company recently partnered with one South Africa’s top banks First National Bank (FNB) to launch e-wallet payments using its Moola virtual currency for FNB customers.

Knott-Craig hopes to roll out MXit payments at restaurants across South Africa by 1 April.

The new CEO is rolling out big changes at MXit and says the company has one year to get it all right.

“We have this year to get it right. If we don’t crack that, then I think we’re dead. If we get it right, though, we are on the right ticket. If I’m talking to you this time next year, that means we’re still alive and I haven’t been forced to emigrate because I won’t be allowed back in the country.”

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