MTN’s Q1 financial results shows that over one billion free text messages were sent by customers within the first four weeks of introducing its free SMS package in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The offer allows MTN Nigeria subscribers across the country to send 10 free SMSs daily for 30 days to all networks.
MTN Nigeria and Airtel decided it was best to offer free SMSs to their subscribers as a way to ease the income strain on Nigerians during lockdown.
While MTN was clear on the number of 10 free SMS messages per day for 30 days, Airtel’s offer came with the caveat that “a Fair Usage policy applies to prevent network congestion at this time when network stability is paramount to keeping all of us connected”.
Online critics posited that MTN and Airtel should have instead offered reduced or free data tariffs. However, five weeks after the introduction of the company’s Y’ello Hope package, it appears that the free-SMS route may have been the way to go as reports from MTN’s Q1 financial results show that over one billion free text messages were sent by MTN’s 70million customers within the first four weeks of introducing the offer.
At the standard rate of N4 per SMS, it means that MTN has incurred an estimated 4 billion Naira on text messages between the 30th of March and the first week in May.
MTN says that the premise to offer SMS incentives was based on statistics which shows that over 30 percent of its customers are not data subscribers and are among the most vulnerable Nigerians being severely impacted by the virus outbreak.
Other incentives available to MTN customers during the period include free 100MB daily to access verified information on health platforms such as Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), World Health Organisation (WHO) and educational materials on MTN’s Teens platform, mPulse. In addition, the company suspended transaction fees for all Cash2Cash transfers via its Mobile Money (MoMo) Agent Network.
MTN Nigeria introduced the Y’ello Hope Package as a broad set of interventions to support its customers and communities in addition to the government’s efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus while ensuring customers remain connected to their loved ones and other critical resources.