Virgin Money app reaches 400K users, partners with merchants

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Virgin Money SA CEO Andre Hugo.
Virgin Money SA CEO Andre Hugo.

Financial services company Virgin Money has upgraded its peer-to-peer (P2P) payment app, Spot, to include a merchant payment feature.

Launched in February 2018 by Virgin Money SA, Spot allows users to send money to friends and family for free.

After delivering month-on-month growth to reach a customer base of over 400 000 users, the company has signed agreements with merchants across the country to enable customers to pay for goods and services directly, using the app.

The list of merchants where users can pay using Spot include: Burger King, Cellucity, Hi-Fi Corporation, Hungry Lion, Incredible Connection and Outdoor Warehouse.

Virgin Money SA CEO Andre Hugo says the move reflects a growing demand by South African consumers for cashless payment options: "If you look at the rapid growth in the number of Spot users in recent months, it's clear that people love the convenience of paying for things and exchanging money on a device they always have with them: their mobile phone," he said.

"We will be building out the national network of merchants who accept payment via Spot rapidly in the coming months. Additional value-added products such as municipal bill payments will also be added to Spot soon."

Cashless trend grows

The cashless trend in SA is fast gaining momentum, according to Virgin Money. The company says that in the last month, the number of customers using Spot has grown by 2 291%, and P2P transactions have increased by 11 197%, contributing to an increase in financial inclusion and consumer safety in SA.

"We're seeing the emergence of small cashless communities, like sports teams, book clubs, or any group that regularly collects payments from its members, adopt the platform, replacing their traditional cash collection methods," notes the company.

Customers can use the payment feature at any merchant where there is a 'Pay with Spot' sign at the till point. Payments can be done by clicking the 'Pay a merchant' button on the app and choosing between three methods of payment: they can either scan a merchant's QR code displayed on the bill; generate a unique QR code to be scanned by a merchant; or provide a manual code for a merchant to enter into their point of sale system.

Among the first merchants to officially partner with Virgin Money was the online ticketing company, Quicket, which now allows teams and spectators to make payments using Spot on the Quicket Web site.

Additionally, Spot customers can buy airtime and data bundles directly within the app, using either money in their Spot Wallet or their linked bank card for the purchase.

Hugo adds that local businesses will see "almost immediate" benefits from providing customers with the Spot payment option: "The easier you can make it for your customers to pay you, the more likely it is that they'll buy from you. We think our business partners will see improved cash flow, and the ability to open up new revenue streams, by being able to offer a highly convenient payment method to their customers."

In October, Virgin Money introduced a new version of the app built on a blockchain platform to increase its security and transaction speeds.

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