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Capitec launches prepaid mobile – and data that never expires

It came from nowhere to become one of SA’s biggest banks. Now, it wants to be price leader in voice, data and SMS

This week sees the launch of yet another mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), with Capitec Connect promising to bring down the cost of communication. 

A new service from Capitec, which came from nowhere to become one of SA’s biggest banks, Capitec Connect is described as a “simplified prepaid solution for voice, data and SMS”. 

As an MVNO, Capital Connect provides cellular services to its clients without owning the network infrastructure.  Instead, it uses the Cell C network, which has long provided the service to MVNOs in South Africa.

Capitec Connect data costs R4.50 per 100 Megabytes or R45 per Gigabyte, which it says is on average 50% below the normal market price. The rates remain flat whether clients buy small or large quantities. The data also never expires provided the SIM is used at least once in 6 months, which means that Capitec clients never lose what they paid for, says the company.  

Gerrie Fourie, chief executive officer of Capitec, says: “South Africans have been complaining about the cost of data. It’s expensive and complicated. Bundle pricing, off-peak and peak rates, and the fact that your data expired are all things that make no sense. We’re changing this by giving our clients access to a mobile solution that is simpler to understand, much more affordable and can be recharged easily on our digital channels.”   

The prepaid solution, a partnership with Cell C, seeks to bring digital inclusivity, says Fourie.

“Our vision is to bring connectivity to all. We want to help create opportunity for everyone to be able to connect with access to affordable data and digital banking anywhere, anytime.”

Cell C chief executive officer, Douglas Craigie Stevenson, says: “It is through partnerships such as the one between Capitec and Cell C that we can make a major difference in bridging the digital divide that still exists in our country and we’re very pleased to be part of the solution that enables South Africans to access a digital lifestyle that can truly change their world.”

Two of South Africa’s most common hashtags have long been #DataMustFall and #DataAsseblief, demonstrating the nation’s cry for the lowering of exorbitant data costs.  

Regulations proposed in 2017 by ICASA and the National Consumer Commissioner advocated for data to remain valid for at least three years.  These proposed regulations were later removed from the charter and replaced with more lenient provisions.  Capitec says it is now leading the change by addressing this issue head-on.

SIM cards are available to clients at all Capitec branches and clients can get up to 5 SIM cards linked to their profile, which makes it easier to give access to data and airtime to family members. 

Once the SIM is activated, data, minutes, SMSs and airtime can be topped up on the Capitec banking app, using *120*3279# or Internet banking. Calls are charged at a flat rate of 90c per minute, while an SMS costs 25c. Airtime never expires, provided the SIM is used once every 6 months.

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