Hard on the heels of the announcement that its recapitalisation efforts have been completed, South African operator Cell C has done a deal with Capitec, South Africa’s largest retail bank by customers, that makes Capitec the country’s latest mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).
Capitec is promoting a virtual mobile network, with a focus on lower-income prepaid users, that promises customers cheaper data that doesn't expire.
Capitec Connect is the name of the partnership between the bank and Cell C. Its stated aim is to disrupt the prepaid mobile business, although it is unlikely to be alone in pursing this opportunity. South African press reports suggests that other banks have been looking at this market. Indeed both Standard Bank (with SB Mobile) and FNB (with FNB Connect) are also MVNOs.
According to Capitec, the new service is expected to be a 'game changer' for prepaid voice, data and SMS service and seeks to bring ‘digital inclusivity’ Customers can purchase the new MVNO’s SIM cards at Capitec branches.
Like other MVNOs, the bank will not own the network infrastructure; it will instead rely on the Cell C network. Capitec Connect offers customers 100 Megabytes at R4.50 (US$0.25) or R45 (US$2.49) per gigabyte. The rates remain flat whether clients buy small or large quantities of data.
Capitec Connect says its data is on average 50% below the price consumers normally pay. The high cost of data has been a recurring customer complaint in South Africa, one that may be partially alleviated by the recent spectrum auctions.
The most eye-catching offer, however, is Capitec Connect’s guarantee that data will never expire if the SIM is used at least once in six months.
Capitec launched in 2001. It had a customer base of 18.1 million in late February 2022.