MTN’s new mobile money service launches in January

MTN says its newly re-launched mobile money service, MoMo will go live in January 2020.

The service will allow customers to send, receive, save and spend money as well as pay for goods and services using their mobile phones.

MoMo will eventually be available to all consumers via USSD functionality on *120*151# (MTN customers can dial *151# for free) as well as via App download in the Google Play store and the Apple App store by 30 January 2020.

During the initial phase MoMo will only be available to MTN customers, however, offering basic services. The mobile operator said that further innovation in early 2020 aims to bring even more South Africans into the digital economy.

Users of MoMo do not need to have an actual bank account but must be a South African Resident, 18 years or older, with a valid South African ID. Users need to be active MTN customers to qualify for selected promotional offers.

Initial functionality of MoMo allows users to:

  • Send money to any working cell phone number in SA;
  • Buy prepaid services like electricity, data and SMS bundles.
  • Pay for purchases at selected till points.
  • Perform Cash In and Cash Out transactions at any MTN store or Mobile Money Agents.

No minimum balance will be required. There are no monthly finance charges and no automated debits, MTN said.

MTN customers can get cash back every time they buy something at selected merchants and there will be a promotional offer of 100% bonus for users who buy MTN Airtime bundles using MoMo will get a free SMS notification every time they use the service.

Serving the under-banked

Speaking at the 2019 MyBroadBand Conference at Midrand in Johannesburg in October, MTN South Africa CEO Godfrey Motsa said that there are 17 million people who are unbanked or underbanked in the country – meaning the time was right to re-enter the market.

While he noted that similar mobile money services had failed twice previously, Motsa said that its current offering has remained incredibly popular in the rest of Africa.

“We have over 30 million customers on mobile money already and made around R8 billion last year,” he said.

“While I often hear people say that ‘South Africa is not Africa’, there are still 17 million people that are unbanked and need to be serviced,” he said.


MTN launched a mobile money platform in 2012 – attracting over 2 million customers.

However, the company shut the service down in 2016 citing ‘commercial viability’.

“The operating costs of providing a mobile money platform have become prohibitive. The decision by MTN SA to shelve its mobile money service does not signify an exit from financial services,” said MTN at the time.

Despite shutting down its mobile money service, MTN said it was still committed to being a relevant player in the financial services space.

Read: MTN to relaunch mobile money service in South Africa

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MTN’s new mobile money service launches in January