How value-added services have evolved

The introduction of value-added services (VAS) in South Africa dates to the early 1980s. Since then, the sale of digital products (like mobile airtime and data vouchers) and services (like paying your utility bills at a till or shopping online) has seen tremendous growth.

VAS are expected to rise in popularity among consumers (who want to save time with more convenient ways to shop) and businesses (that want to increase their revenue) well into the future. The VAS industry’s worth is currently estimated at over R27 billion a month.

The VAS industry in South Africa has seen several changes in key stakeholders and role players. Here are some of the milestones over the past 40 years:

The 1980s

  • Credit and debit cards are introduced.
  • Cash withdrawals allowed at tills.

The 1990s

  • Bill payments at tills introduced.
  • You can buy prepaid electricity and airtime, with later additions including stamps, event bookings, insurance products and travel tickets.
  • Credit and debit cards become the dominant form of payment.

The 2000s

  • Retailers sell funeral cover self-enrolment starter packs for the first time.
  • Domestic money transfers launched.
  • Smartphone ownership increases, which plays a big role in mobile VAS transactions.

The 2010s

  • You can buy prepaid airtime and electricity via your cellphone, directly from your bank account.

The VAS evolution

Typically, VAS in retail, banks and major network operators were broadly defined and mainly facilitated via payment software. But South Africans no longer view VAS as add-on items to their purchases. Digital services offered by their banks, stores and mobile networks have become an essential item and part of their buying journey.


The VAS API is secured with a secret client ID authentication


VAS that are no longer restricted to a retailer’s point-of-sale device have the potential to become valuable revenue streams for businesses.

Adding VAS as an offering

The VAS industry is expected to see year-on-year growth of both revenue and technology. All role players understand that it is crucial to keep up with this fast-evolving landscape, hold on to a competitive advantage in the market, stay relevant to consumers and generate revenue.

If businesses are falling behind with VAS industry trends, they may soon find themselves in trouble, as technology is developing at a rapid pace.

The Nedbank value-added services API (application programming interface) gives businesses like yours the ability to buy and sell products like airtime, data, vouchers and coupons. The key feature of the VAS API is the real-time purchase capabilities for these products.

Remember, the VAS API is secured with a secret client ID authentication, ensuring industry-standard authentication of business partners using this API.

Learn more about the Nedbank API Marketplace offering and how you could use our range of APIs for your business, or register your interest and we’ll have a specialist get in touch.