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Trustco prepares for big leap

More than a year after Trustco announced that it was in talks with several parties for the introduction of its patented Trustco Mobile concept across Africa, the company revealed  Wednesday that it now provides a revolutionary free life cover for Shoprite Namibia customers.
As part of the partnership, expected to be a prequel to the concept’s launch across Africa, Shoprite, U-Save and Checkers customers who buy any product for N$20 or more will receive free life cover undewritten by Trustco Insurance.
Head of the Trustco Namibia operations, Janene van den Heever described the partnership as a unique way of making life cover free and accessible to thousands of Namibians that have no access to the traditional distribution channels for insurance while Paul Malan, General Manager of Shoprite Namibia said the new product offering is in line with the Shoprite Group’s objective to continuously improve the range of services it offers to customers.
The Trustco Group MD, Quinton van Rooyen told the Economist that the launch of the free life cover for Shoprite customers in Namibia is a perfect way to test if the African launch, expected anytime soon, will be successful.
Van Rooyen said: “Shoprite is present in South Africa and the rest of Africa so this is a very good way to test the model here. If it is successful we will then move it to the other areas where
shoprite is operational.
“We have an arrangement with Shoprite to run this for a certain period, typically over the Christmas season, so that we can see whether the system can cope when people are literally shopping for life. We want to see if the system can accommodate such huge volumes of people. Once that is done we will be in a position to go to other retailers in the rest of Africa or the world for that matter.”
The Trustco Mobile concept was first introduced in Zimbabwe together with partner Econet but after a brief start, the concept fell into a dormant state. Van Rooyen said they have now learnt their lesson after the Econet debacle.
“You must see the positive in every negative situation. For instance, we learnt that the registration process in Econet was cumbersome. People don’t want to do difficult things. We thought that every time when a person tops up he wants to know how much life coverage he gets. People don’t want to know that, they want to know once a month. Also the SMSs clogged the systems of the mobile operators.
“The biggest problem in Zimbabwe was not necessarily Econet but us and Econet under-estimated the take up of the product. We budgeted for 200,000 customers in the first year but we got 2 million in the first six months. So we had to upgrade our systems three times to accommodate the volumes. That is what is so nice about Namibia, if we see the uptake is tremendous like we hope Shoprite here will be, we will know what to expect in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana or wherever Shoprite is operational,” van Rooyen said.
The Trustco MD said they targeted Shoprite because of the sheer volume of transactions the supermarket handles every month.
He said: “Shoprite does up to three million transactions a month in Namibia so obviously we are  targeting as many people as possible.
“Their market and our market is one and the same person. They have a presence in South Africa where they have 600 shops. That is a target for us. They have a very extensive expansion drive in the rest of Africa. So that is a natural progression for us if they decide to do that.
“They also have a thing that they want to expose their customers to financial services and you know they are ideally situated to do that. They already have the customer base so for us, Shoprite was a natural process.
“We did battle a bit to integrate the systems. The deal was announced in December last year but it is only now coming to fruition. What we have done now is, we have designed the system so that the roll-out to any other place will be just a push of a button. So we didn’t design the system for Namibia only so that if the next natural step is South Africa or anywhere else, it is just a switch over and we can go. We don’t need to re-design the system.”

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