MTN. Picture: BLOOMBERG/WALDO SWIEGERS
MTN. Picture: BLOOMBERG/WALDO SWIEGERS

MTN has launched a range of new lower priced data bundles for customers through its mobile payments platform.

SA’s second-largest mobile operator, MTN, officially relaunched its mobile money service in the country in an effort to replicate the success it has found in other markets like Ghana.

In January, the operator said it has partnered with financial services firm Ubank on the project. The agreement allows Ubank to facilitate participation in MoMo, enabling customers and consumers to transact and make payments using the service.

MTN said its new data bundles would be for use on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and YouTube. “Data used to access other platforms will be drawn from the user’s other available data,” said the operator.

This news comes as MTN said in March that it would drop data prices for its 30-day bundles by up to 50% from mid-April after pressure from the Competition Commission.

After a two-year investigation, the Competition Commission released its data services market inquiry report in December  and demanded that Vodacom and MTN drop internet connectivity prices within two months or face prosecution. This deadline was extended to the beginning of March.

Vodacom was the first major operator to introduce price reductions across all its monthly data bundles.

MTN has not reached an agreement with the competition watchdog yet but is expected to do so later in April.  

The operator has 29-million subscribers on its network and has been working to grow its data revenues. For the financial year to end-December 2019, MTN made R12.6bn in revenue from its data services in SA.

These price cuts are likely to have an initial negative effect on revenues but the operator has indicated it expects to see a recovery, driven by higher data traffic.

In a statement, Felix Kamenga, chief officer of MTN SA's mobile financial services unit, said: “The introduction of these social bundles is a game changer as these are the most competitive social media data deals ever introduced by MTN. We believed that it was necessary to look to solutions to help South Africans during a time when many are uncertain about the future resulting from the unprecedented economic disruptions caused by Covid-19.

“In the coming weeks, we will continue to build more value-added functionalities into MoMo and will keep our customers updated on these developments,” Kamenga said.

“A key consideration for the coming add-ons remains ensuring that the solutions we design continue driving financial inclusivity and digital transformation, and that we find cost-effective ways for our customers to manage their money during these challenging times,” Kamenga said.

gavazam@businesslive.co.za