Big four bank Nedbank has partnered with Mara Phones to make the SA-made smartphones available to the bank’s clients.
Last month, the Mara Group, which produces the Android-powered devices, officially opened its South African-based smartphone manufacturing facility at the Dube Trade Port Special Economic Zone in KwaZulu-Natal.
The opening of the Mara Phones Factory followed last year’s R1.5 billion investment announcement by Mara Group founder and CEO, Ashish Thakkar, at the inaugural Africa Investment Forum.
At the time, Thakkar highlighted that few smartphones are assembled in Africa, but nothing is truly being manufactured on the continent. As a result, his company decided to make SA, as well as Rwanda, manufacturing hubs of Africa’s “first hi-tech, high-quality and affordable” smartphones.
In a statement, Ahuti Chug, chair of Mara Phones, says the company is exceptionally pleased that Nedbank has come on board to partner with Mara Phones.
“Our aim is to increase smartphone penetration on the continent by providing problem-solving, tailored solutions to our customers and partners. This partnership strengthens our vision to change the narrative by demonstrating that Africans can produce high-quality tech products.”
Chug adds: “The importance of quality and affordable smartphones cannot be overstated as they enable connectivity and efficiency. It is part of Mara Phones’ vision and strategy to partner with financial institutions to offer solutions to consumers, truly made in Africa solutions.”
Ciko Thomas, group managing executive for Nedbank retail and business banking, says: “Like Nedbank, Mara Phones is committed to leveraging technology to enable financial inclusion and enhanced education, healthcare and agriculture outcomes in South Africa and across Africa.”
While the bank doesn’t divulge the full details of its Mara Phones offer, Thomas suggests it will be a pre-packaged, high-value proposition, with the smartphones preloaded with the Nedbank money app, and delivered via flexible finance options.
Furthermore, the Nedbank offer is unlikely to be network-specific, according to Thomas.
“We believe our clients should be able to use the mobile network of their own choosing,” he says, “so we will be offering some, or all, of our Nedbank-bundled, dual-SIM Mara Phones devices without SIM cards, allowing the new phone owners to use prepaid voice and data packages from any cellular service provider.”