MTN recently announced plans to launch an Instant messaging app to take on the likes of WeChat and Whatsapp.

You may recall that in the past, African Telcos have felt threatened by OTT providers like Whatsapp, Skype, and others (Telcos in Nigeria lost about N100tn to OTT providers between 2012 and 2017 to OTT), so I guess this is MTN’s way of expanding revenue in spite of the threats.

The new app has been dubbed as the WeChat of Africa by MTN’s group CEO, Rob Shuter, and according to him, the app will enable mobile payments for the unbanked and underbanked.

Previously in 2007, they launched NokNok to take on BBM, but it failed to gain significant traction in South Africa. However, this time, MTN plans to use a different approach. The new app will offer communication channels which won’t only rely on data.

In his words:

“First and foremost, we are building in SMS integration into the messaging app. This is really important.”

As expected, SMS integration will ensure you can send messages to customers who don’t have data. This also means that the app will allow users to chat with anyone on a mobile device, regardless of whether they have the application or not.

In addition to this, they intend to offer localization (you will be able to use the app in about 54 languages) across MTN’s operational markets, which is something existing platforms don’t currently offer. The app will also have an embedded payment mechanism and will offer data incentives.

No words on the official launch date, but report claims that the app would launch later this year.

While we wait, are these value propositions good enough for you to consider using the app? {Tobi Ayeni}

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