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MTN concludes plan to launch instant messaging app, music streaming service

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Telecommunication giant, MTN is finalising plans to diversify its portfolio, starting with the launch of an instant messaging app across its market beginning from the West and Central Africa regions.

The was revealed by the President and Chief Executive Officer, MTN Group, Rob Shuter, who noted that the instant messaging service would form part of the company’s mobile money portfolio and function as the ‘WeChat of Africa.” The app will also enable mobile payments for the unbanked and under-banked in 54 languages.

Shuter was speaking at the media briefing after the group’s full-year results presentation in Johannesburg. He mentioned the plans of the company to launch its own music streaming service, and an improved mobile money offering.

“We intend to launch it across the entire portfolio, South Africa included, but we will start with the West and Central Africa markets as a kind of a pilot or beta stage,” Shuter was quoted as saying.

“The plan is to integrate MTN Mobile Money. This is obviously more relevant in markets where we have MoMo. I’ve made the parallel that it will be the African WeChat, but it will look like a messaging-centric app where you embed a payment mechanism,” he said.

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According to him, integrating the platform within the MTN messaging application would allow users to make payments to other Mobile Money customers easily and also communicate with other data users and non-data users via SMS messaging platforms.

He said MTN Mobile Money will re-launch in South Africa and expand to Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Sudan this year.

MoMo is active in 14 markets with plans to soon launch in four more, including SA. At the end of December 2018, MTN had a total of 27 million active MoMo subscribers.

The MTN chief explained that the messaging app would be different from conventional apps, as it functions with SMS integration.

“The existing instant messaging apps only really work from a data subscriber to a data subscriber. As the penetration of data customers increases in our market, increasingly they will be conversing with non-data subscribers, so this is going to be an important differential between the existing instant messaging apps and the one we are building.”

“MTNis doing a lot of local market customisation for the messaging app, including local languages, and already has 54 languages on the service,” Shuter added.

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