MTN South Africa has launched a new service on WhatsApp that allows its customers to check their balances, top up their airtime and buy data bundles without having to leave the Facebook-owned messaging app.
In a nod to the ubiquity of WhatsApp as a communication platform among South Africans, MTN said it made sense to offer these services in the messaging app. It claimed the development is a world first for a mobile telecommunications operator. The solution was developed by Clickatell.
Called MTN Chat, the service is not to be confused with MTN Group’s planned WeChat and WhatsApp rival, which was announced earlier this month by CEO Rob Shuter and which is expected to be launched in a beta-testing version soon. It is the company’s intention to integrate MTN Chat into this messaging platform.
“WhatsApp is one of the most popularly used services in the country. More than 28 million people in South Africa use WhatsApp, with more than 15 million of those on our network,” said Mapula Bodibe, consumer business unit executive at MTN South Africa, at the launch of MTN Chat in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
“We know customers are using WhatsApp daily. We need to be where they are; hence the introduction of MTN Chat,” Bodibe said.
Customers can sign up by adding 0831230011 to their contacts and messaging the number in WhatsApp.
Gareth Murphy, head of online retail channels at MTN South Africa, said the company has launched the WhatsApp service as a “minimal loveable product” and will offer additional products and services in time.
For now, customers “can check balances and recharge with airtime or data bundles”. Users can load their credit card details — and this will be extended to other payment options, including mobile money, in future.
“We have gone ‘thin’ with these limited use cases because customers will help shape the evolution of this service,” Murphy said. “Through customer feedback … we will evolve the service to meet customer needs when and where they need it.
“We will evolve this service, with more things to come. This is not the only thing we are working on and we have some really exciting stuff coming we can’t mention at the moment.”
MTN plans to bring the service to other platforms, too, possibly including Facebook Messenger. — © 2019 NewsCentral Media