Vehicle sales, B2B solutions head to Nedbank 'super app'

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 03 Aug 2021

Nedbank plans to up the propositions offered on its Avo ‘super app’, by including vehicle shopping, business-to-business (B2B) and healthcare solutions.

So says Vishal Maharaj, Nedbank executive for digital, explaining the evolution of goods and services that will be on offer on Avo in the not so distant future.

In the wake of COVID-19, companies across industries and sectors, including financial services, branched out beyond normal services offered to customers.

Amid the uptick in digital solutions, Nedbank rolled out Avo and integrated quick response code technology into its Money App, which enables customers to make contactless withdrawals at ATMs around the country.

Presently, Avo allows customers to shop groceries, tech, professional home services like plumbing, prepaid electricity, airtime and data, as well as liquor and takeaways, all on a single platform.

The big-four bank is also making the three new propositions available on its super app, which Maharaj says will launch this quarter.

Maharaj explains that when Avo started, it was positioned to service the home ecosystem; however, the automobile ecosystem was always part of the next stage in the evolution of the super app.

“As an organisation, we have many businesses and part of those businesses is lending. We lend to people to acquire homes as well as to acquire vehicles.

“From an organic perspective, we thought it best to go into a space where we have some familiarity. We did home and now we will do auto. You’ll shortly see our auto play being launched on Avo. We’ve already started to onboard dealers – who will sell their vehicles on our platform to people looking to buy.”

The other proposition coming to Avo is a B2B marketplace. “In our B2B marketplace, we’ve also already started to onboard large corporates looking to sell their goods or services to other businesses.”

Additionally, Avo is looking at a healthcare proposition, Maharaj reveals. “We’ve embarked on a partnership with a business in the health sector. This will see us offer a healthcare proposition about living well and healthy, and hopefully in the near future, do a virtual doctor consultation online.”

Vishal Maharaj, executive for digital at Nedbank.
Vishal Maharaj, executive for digital at Nedbank.

Launched last June, Nedbank’s Avo has already garnered over 250 000 customers. It has signed up over 17 000 merchants, mostly small and medium enterprises.

According to Maharaj, the platform has also onboarded logistics service providers. “We have nine of them currently on Avo. They can deliver goods on behalf of the merchants to the customers that buy on Avo – through our logistics partners, we handle the entire fulfilment, whether it is nation-wide or last mile.”

Popularised in Asian countries, super apps bring different merchants together, offering a multitude of unrelated services in a single mobile platform.

Maharaj explains that the bank picked up a few years ago that the platform economy was on the rise, and started looking at what the giants in the East were doing; for example, Alibaba’s Alipay, Rakuten in Japan, Flipkart and Paytm in India, and Gojek in Indonesia.

“These companies have been able to scale very efficiently through their platform to hundreds of millions of customers and some of them even to a billion customers. We tried to unpack what makes these platform places so special that they can scale so efficiently and rapidly. The financial services sector is a very competitive space in South Africa, and we have to look at re-energised and revitalised ways to increase our customer satisfaction and make sure our customers love banking with us.

“We decided not only to be a financial services provider, but also provide customers with [offerings] beyond banking solutions and that’s when we decided to go into the more lifestyle and everyday needs and wants solutions space for our customers.

“That is why we tackled the home ecosystem first – we decided to really give options and variety to our customers that are looking to deliver on needs and wants in their home.”

Maharaj notes there has been an encouraging and powerful reception to Avo. “There were a lot of businesses that were caught off guard with regards to the massive acceleration of digitalisation when the pandemic hit.

“Avo tried to make it very simple for businesses to be able to use our tools to establish their e-commerce sites. They can load their inventory, publish their inventory on our platform, and then we do all the hard work in terms of marketing it, packaging it.

He concludes: “In the past, customers only came to Nedbank for financial services solutions, but now they come to get deals to do a makeover in their lounge, they come to get deals in terms of takeaway options, and will be buying vehicles soon.”