MTN re-launching Mobile Money in SA

Paula Gilbert
By Paula Gilbert, ITWeb telecoms editor.
Cape Town, 13 Nov 2018
MTN group CEO and president Rob Shuter.
MTN group CEO and president Rob Shuter.

MTN is re-launching Mobile Money in South Africa, group CEO and president Rob Shuter told delegates at the AfricaCom conference in Cape Town this morning.

In his keynote speech, Shuter said the telco would bring the service back to SA in the first quarter of 2019.

In September 2016, MTN SA announced it was decommissioning the Mobile Money (MoMo) offering in the country due to lack of commercial viability.

The service was originally launched in 2012 when MTN partnered with the South African Bank of Athens, Pick n Pay and Boxer stores to offer a mobile money solution enabling the opening of simple bank accounts via phones.

Mobile money offerings have been successful all over the continent but do not have a strong track record locally. In May 2016, Vodacom also pulled the plug on its offering, M-Pesa, in South Africa.

However, Shuter believes now is a good time to bring the services back to SA.

"We intend to roll out our Mobile Money services into our two tier-one operations [South Africa and Nigeria]. We will be re-launching Mobile Money in South Africa in the first quarter of 2019," he said.

"Many operators have tried many times with mobile money in SA, MTN amongst them. But if you look at everything we have learned across the markets, where it is scaling in the other markets, we believe this is a service that is really competing with cash, but you have to find the pockets of the population that are still predominantly transacting in cash and give them an easy, affordable and high quality service, and we really believe MTN Mobile Money can still work very well in South Africa."

He said the service will also be extended to Nigeria for the first time next year.

"The second thing we are super-excited about is the Central Bank of Nigeria 10 days ago announced a new licensing regime for payment services banks and this regime is very well suited for telcos who want to offer the kind of mobile money services that we have offered across many of our other markets.

"We will be applying for a payment service banking licence in Nigeria in the next month or so, and if all goes according to plan, we will also be launching MTN Mobile Money in Nigeria probably around the second quarter of 2019."

At the end of June, MTN had 24.1 million active MoMo users in 14 markets.

"This has always been a big challenge for MTN that we have got a very well implemented mobile money strategy across the group but it has not been in our two tier-one markets. Implementing it across the two tier-one markets will really allow leverage and scale, and for us to get a more meaningful contribution to the group," he concluded.