MTN's mobile money service will go live in January in South Africa, allowing customers to send, receive, save money and pay for goods using their mobile phones, the mobile operator said on Wednesday.
Last year group Chief Executive Officer Rob Shuter told a telecoms conference in Cape Town that the company would relaunch mobile money services in South Africa, three years after canning the service.
Shuter, who has experience in banking, is in the middle of a strategic revamp of Africa's biggest telecoms group to hunt for returns in everything from financial services, music and video games.
"The introduction of this mobile money service is a pivotal step in MTN's strategy and represents MTN's participation in the next phase of increasing convergence we are seeing between financial services and mobile technology," MTN South Africa CEO Godfrey Motsa said in a statement.
The service, called MoMo, will run on the Ericsson Converged Wallet. During the initial phase it will be available to MTN customers and offer basic services such as sending money to any mobile phone number in the country, buying prepaid services like electricity and paying for purchases at selected till points, the firm said.
MTN will kick off the service in a country where about 11 million South Africans remain unbanked, while 50% of the adult population remains thinly served, according to MTN South Africa Chief Officer of Mobile Financial Services, Felix Kamenga.
"MoMo aims to bridge this gap with this innovative mobile money offering, providing a payments solution that encourages financial inclusion," he added.
The announcement comes months after a subsidiary of MTN Nigeria MTNN.LG was granted a "full super agent" licence by the Central Bank of Nigeria that would allow it to provide financial services.