Telecommunications Giant MTN plans to launch an “African WeChat”

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The Chief Executive Officer of MTN, Rob Shuter said the telecommunications company plans to launch a multipurpose app modelled after Tencent’s WeChat in the coming months.

Shuter said “we’ve built an instant-messaging platform that will be integrated with mobile money to form the first step of what we call the ‘African WeChat’. The instant-messaging platform would be launched in two markets in the next month or so”.

China’s WeChat app is a messaging, social media and payments app with more than 1 billion active users. The app is a prized asset of Naspers associate Tencent.

Shuter said MTN would soon launch mobile money services, already live in 14 of its markets- in South Africa, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Sudan. He added that “and we’ll continue to extend our advanced services like insurance and lending”.

The CEO told Business Day South Africa that digital financial services companies tended to trade at far higher multiples than traditional telecom companies. He said “look at Tencent or WeChat, digital financial services players are not trading at six times earnings like our industry; these are 10 to 20 times businesses. Mobile money can be a $1 to $1.50 arpu [average revenue per user]industry. For us, it’s possible to get every market to 20 percent of revenue from mobile money, which has similar margins and almost no capital expenditure”.

Shuter also revealed that MTN would launch its music-streaming service across its portfolio of 21 markets by July.

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