Picture: EPA/RITCHIE B TONGO
Picture: EPA/RITCHIE B TONGO

MTN says it will become the first mobile network in the world to let customers buy airtime and data bundles and check their balances directly on Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp.

The service, MTN Chat, will help customers manage their accounts “off a secure and convenient platform they already know and love”, said Mapula Bodibe, MTN SA’s consumer business executive.

“It’s imperative that companies focus on improving self-service experiences to retain and grow customers and this is an important step for MTN,” Bodibe said.

MTN plans to expand the product soon by including services such as customer support; the management of upgrades and customer accounts; receiving balance notifications; and offering customised deals.

“MTN hopes to incorporate other instant messaging platforms, such as Facebook Messenger, down the line,” the operator said.

The product was developed with customer engagement company Clickatell.

In 2018, Absa partnered with WhatsApp to launch the world’s first chat-banking service. The platform lets customers make peer-to-peer payments or pay utility bills, among other features.

“It’s gone really well with customers,” Jason Quinn, Absa’s group financial director, told Business Day earlier in March.

Carolyn Everson, a vice-president at Facebook, said recently that the group was in talks with financial institutions about possible mobile-payment collaborations in Africa.

hedleyn@businesslive.co.za