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MTN is building “Africa’s first Digital Ecosystem”

MTN is building Africa’s first  digital ecosystem better known as “Super App” – Ayoba – which will offer users free instant messaging, mobile commerce, and interactive entertainment similar to the WeChat of China.

This is the word from MTN Group Chief Digital and Fintech Office Yolanda Cuba, who was speaking to The Nielsen Network about the company’s digital and fintech plans.

Ayoba was first launched as an instant messaging (IM) platform in March 2019 with a focus on the African and Middle East markets.

MTN CEO Rob Shuter said at the time of the launch that Ayoba would form part of the company’s mobile money portfolio, enabling mobile payments for the unbanked and underbanked.

He added the app would also have its own music streaming service and an improved mobile money offering. The initial focus is to get users on the platform, and it is succeeding. Within the first year, Ayoba attracted two million users. This is, however, only the beginning. Shuter said that MTN aims to have 16 million users before the end of the year.

Cuba said while Ayoba is currently used as an instant messaging app, the platform is expanding to offer three main services:

  • Instant messaging.
  • Mobile commerce (m-commerce)
  • Interactive entertainment.

Cuba said they are driving remittance, investments, lending, and insurance on the MoMo platform to enhance financial inclusion.

MTN is also testing the MoMo Market – an m-commerce platform targeted at addressing the ecommerce challenges on the continent.

The MoMo service will be made available through the Ayoba app to create a “super app”. To further enhance its Ayoba platform, MTN is building an open digital platform that will enable third-party innovation.

Cuba explained companies and individuals will be able to build “micro apps” and make them available on the Ayoba platform.This, she said, will help to ensure a rich and diversified experience on the Ayoba platform and deliver more value to customers.

“Ayoba is an open platform for anybody, any network, anywhere,” Cuba said.

MTN is already a large fintech player, with 36 million active Mobile Money (MoMo) users on its network and this development comes on the heels of Vodacom announcing its partnership with Alipay to deploy a white label version of its Super App in South Africa.