JSE-listed telecommunications group MTN is going live with its mobile money (MoMo) service in South Africa.
The company’s third attempt at deploying MoMo services in the country follows the finalisation of engagements with all the relevant regulatory bodies and authorities, including the South African Reserve Bank.
In October, the group announced that it was preparing to launch the service as a critical part of its growth plans.
“The introduction of this mobile money service is a pivotal step in MTN’s strategy and represents MTN’s participation in the next phase of [the] increasing convergence we are seeing between financial services and mobile technology,” says MTN South Africa CEO Godfrey Motsa.
A comprehensive financial technology (fintech) ecosystem has become a key focus and a major driver of new value creation for the JSE-listed company, with the group boasting over 30-million active MoMo customers in Africa and monthly average revenue per user at $1.30 and customer growth of 8.9%.
MoMo, which will enable customers to send, receive, save and spend money using their mobile phones, will be available through USSD functionality, as well as through a mobile application by January 30.
MoMo, which will run on the Ericsson converged wallet, will initially only offer basic services and be available to MTN customers.
However, plans are in place to enhance and further innovate on the platform during the early part of 2020.
“We see MoMo playing a significant role for both the man on the street, by empowering our customers to make positive financial decisions, [and] the South African economy, by enabling enterprise development at the formal and informal level,” says MTN South Africa mobile financial services chief officer Felix Kamenga.
MoMo aims to bridge the unbanked gap by providing a payments solution that encourages financial inclusion, he says.
“Our research shows that about 11-million South Africans remain unbanked, while 50% of the adult population remains thinly served.”
MTN South Africa is confident that MoMo can mimic the success that saw telephony and the Internet being revolutionised and democratised over the past two decades.
MoMo has been through rigorous testing, with the company confident that consumers will reap the benefits of MTN’s investment in the network to evolve with the ever-changing fintech landscape.
Kamenga also points to MTN’s mobile money successes in other African countries.
“We have learnt what to do, as well as what not to do, and we believe that MTN has a significant footprint in South Africa to reach underbanked and underserved communities still heavily reliant on cash to transact.
“This represents an MTN Group effort, as we [have]worked with our counterparts in other markets, tapping into technical and human resources available from established markets, which made this journey easier,” he adds.
“We are really confident that, this time, we will get it right,” Motsa assures.
“We might have failed twice before, but the opportunity stills exists. The problem is still there,” he says, highlighting the huge number of unbanked or underbanked citizens in South Africa.
Initial functionality of MoMo will allow users to send money to any working cellphone number in South Africa; buy prepaid services like electricity, data and SMS bundles; pay for purchases at selected till points; and perform cash-in and cash-out transactions at any MTN store or mobile money agent.
No minimum balance will be required. There are no monthly finance charges and no automated debits.
Further, MTN customers can get cash back every time they buy from selected merchants.
There will also be a promotional offer of a 100% bonus for users who buy MTN Airtime bundles using MoMo.