New South African messaging app doesn’t use any data – but there’s a catch

 ·14 Aug 2018

Moya Messenger is a new mobile messaging app that enables users to communicate without incurring data cost – provided they don’t send any attachments and are willing to be exposed to advertising.

Developed in South Africa, the app’s users can message each other without airtime or a data balance on their smartphone.

The app offers unlimited texting, group chat, end-to-end security with automatic encryption of all messages, and automatic contact discovery that allows users to connect with others also using the Moya app.

However, while message attachments like photos, videos, voice notes, documents and the like are fully supported, sending media attachments is not data-free. Moya users will be pre-emptively warned when they will incur mobile data costs, or need to switch to WiFi.

Moya said that it is able to offer this service for free as it has reverse billing agreements with MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and Telkom, and has built a technology platform that enables partners and customers to make their apps and websites data-free for end-users.

The group’s commercial model is to give businesses access to these users – though it said that all business communication to a consumer is on an opt-in basis only.

The app is part of the #datafree initiative, which offers a collection of apps and sites that do not use up end-users’ data while using them. Under this model, advertisers are the ones who foot the bill for any data used.

According to the #datafree webpage, the group gets paid by advertisers to show users data-free video ads. While the frequency of such adverts vary, the group said that, generally, users will see about one 10 second video advert every 30 minutes.

The app is developed by biNu, which is headed by chief executive officer, Gour Lentell.

Read: WhatsApp ‘sextortion’ scam back on the rise in SA

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