MTN to launch ‘WeChat of Africa’
By Duncan McLeod
MTN Group has announced it will launch an instant messaging (IM) service akin to China’s WeChat and Facebook’s WhatsApp as it seeks to expand revenue from digital services and mobile money.
With the IM platform, which will form part of the group’s mobile money initiatives, MTN wants to build what group CEO Rob Shuter calls the “WeChat of Africa”. WeChat, developed by Naspers affiliate Tencent, is by far the largest IM app in China and offers a wide range of in-app services from chat to payments.
The app will be launched in MTN markets in West Africa first as part of a “beta-testing” phase. The plan is to introduce it to all the countries in which it operates, including South Africa. A key differentiator will be the ability for users to exchange messages who don’t have a data plan through interoperability with SMS.
Photo courtesy of uditha wickramanayaka.