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ITWeb TV: MTN MoMo to add online shopping service

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 08 Dec 2023
ITWeb Senior Journalist Sibahle Malinga talks to MTN SA chief financial services officer, Bradwin Roper about the current state of mobile money services in South Africa and MTN MoMo’s future growth plans. #itwebtv #fintech #mtnmomo

MTN South Africa is planning to add an e-commerce service to its Mobile Money (MoMo) platform, as part of its transition into a super app.

The e-wallet service has shown 200% year-on-year user growth during the past two years, with over nine million registered MoMo customers in SA.

During an interview with ITWeb TV, Bradwin Roper, MTN SA chief financial services officer, said the mobile wallet app it is looking at offering customers a variety of products and services that go beyond the financial vertical, as part of its platform-driven strategy.

This is enabled by establishing partnerships with third-party intermediaries and focusing on broadening digital and financial inclusion.

“MTN MoMo is not only limited to financial services; we are going to be exploring offering other services. In fact, we have something launching before the end of December that will allow customers to be able to do e-commerce directly, through a partnership we have recently established.

“This will be going live soon. We are now thinking of offering products that will serve every aspect of our customers’ lives – from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to bed,” he explained.

Roper did not want to divulge more details of the new offering, noting: “Watch this space.”

Since its inception in 2020, MoMo has evolved to include payments, personal insurance and lending. It also offers prepaid health vouchers, bus tickets, micro-loans, car licence renewals and retail food vouchers. The platform has been integrated with the Zapper QR code service and Nedbank ATMs for cash-out of funds.

In September, MTN South Africa partnered with remittance payments fintech firm Clicksendnow, to add a new international remittances service to the platform, in efforts to tap into the unbanked South African population and break down barriers to cross-border money transfers.

In the same month, the company added a business wallet, funeral cover, point-of-sale devices and streamlined payments.

According to Roper, both services have seen much growth since launch, boosted by the drive to grow the operator’s agent network to 23 000, to ensure access to MoMo services where people live.

Bradwin Roper, MTN SA chief financial services officer. Photograph by Lesley Moyo.
Bradwin Roper, MTN SA chief financial services officer. Photograph by Lesley Moyo.

Other factors contributing to growth include customers’ need for lower transaction fees and making services available immediately.

“At MTN, we are committed to offering an alternative to expensive banking services by introducing services that offer mobile users cheaper, more accessible options. South Africans are so tired of being exploited.”

While mobile money has successfully been adopted in many African countries, it had previously failed to gain traction in SA, with players such as Vodacom's M-Pesa shutting down their local service.

In September 2016, MTN SA announced it was decommissioning the MoMo offering in the country due to lack of commercial viability. In 2020, MTN re-launched the platform in SA.

Since this re-launch, MTN has proved there is a place for mobile money in SA, through its fast-paced growth, stated Roper.

“Traditional incumbents have been fixated on offering a ‘perfect product’ mind-set and want to build and own a product. MTN MoMo is premised on a ‘perfect partnership’ mind-set, so ours is a platform business that brings on-board partnerships that will allow us to offer a service instantly and at a lower cost.

“When you look at the international remittances service, we partnered with a local partner that owns the licence and understands the regulatory environment, and they are embedded inside MoMo, allowing foreign nationals to enjoy the benefit of sending funds beyond SA at a lower cost.”