Multichoice Group, a prominent player in the African entertainment industry, has announced its foray into the payments sector with the launch of a new integrated payments platform. The company has partnered with Rapyd, a B2B payment processing platform, and General Catalyst, a venture capital firm specializing in early-stage investments. The platform, named “Moment,” aims to provide businesses across Africa with a comprehensive payment infrastructure, making transactions easier, quicker, and more affordable, accommodating the preferences of both buyers and suppliers.
Moreover, Moment intends to offer consumers options for smarter spending and saving, with a broader goal of revolutionizing the African payments landscape and enhancing accessibility and reliability for domestic, cross-border, and global transactions. However, Multichoice’s stock experienced a decline of nearly 2% at the market’s close, signaling some shareholders’ lack of confidence in the company’s ability to make a significant impact in the already competitive payments sector.
Calvo Mawela, CEO of MultiChoice Group, expressed enthusiasm for the partnership with Rapyd and General Catalyst, stating, “We are excited about our venture with Rapyd and General Catalyst. It will address the need for an accessible and reliable payment platform for many small businesses and millions of consumers in Africa. Investing in this venture is a logical progression for us, as we already process payments every month from 22 million households across 50 countries in Africa. Moment fulfills our strategy to expand our ecosystem by investing in adjacent businesses that provide scalable services, underpinned by technology.”
The move towards a payments platform may be viewed as a necessary pivot for Multichoice, as its core business, DStv, has faced challenges in recent years. According to Daily Investor, DStv Premium subscriptions declined from 2.35 million to 1.92 million between 2015 and 2018, reaching 1.4 million by the end of 2022. Additionally, MultiChoice’s latest annual financial results reveal a 6% decline in Compact and commercial package subscriptions.
The average revenue per user (ARPU) for the platform has also experienced a downward trend, dropping from R317 per month in March 2018 to R269 in March 2022 for 90-day active subscribers. While Multichoice’s streaming service, Showmax, has reported substantial subscriber growth in recent years, its financial impact on the company’s bottom line remains undisclosed as the service’s numbers are not included in Multichoice’s financial reports.
Multichoice’s long-term plan for Moment is to establish payment infrastructure to cater to the needs of Africa’s 44 million small businesses. The platform also aims to facilitate the transition from cash to digital payments, as currently, 90% of retail transactions in Africa are conducted in cash.
“Moment gives MultiChoice another opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to the economic development of the African continent. It will play a key role in accelerating cash-to-digital payments for all consumers and businesses and making the continent more investment ready for global players by connecting payments from Africa to the world,” added Mawela.
With its existing subscriber base of 20 million pay-TV customers on DStv, Multichoice claims to process over $3.5 billion in payments annually. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed company also holds a majority shareholding in Showmax, a subscription video-on-demand service, and a minority stake in Betking, an online betting service.
Beyond powering payments for its own services, Moment aims to facilitate payments for small businesses, drive the adoption of real-time payment methods in all markets, and facilitate trade for importers and exporters involving over 40 currencies across 130 countries.