• Sunday, July 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

MTN fires fresh shot in voice pricing

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MTN, the nation’s largest operator with 60 million customers, has fired a fresh shot in voice pricing as competition thickens in the telecommunications market. MTN customers will now enjoy a much reduced tariff on voice calls in a new customer acquisition push. Customers now have the opportunity to make calls at half-price to as many as 11 specific friends or family members while enjoying greater value for money on an extended amount of call time. This is coming on the heels of its recently launched Betterme offer, which also gives subscribers more benefits including access to the internet at lower rates. This is courtesy of the re-launch of the MTN TruTalk service which has allowed for an upgrade of the Family and Friends feature. This upgrade avails customers more talk time and an opportunity to make calls for half the rate.
The value offerings however provide a tariff as low as 11 kobo/sec to 11 registered numbers, eight on-net and three off-net numbers, for Family and Friends. Using the game of football as a metaphor, Bayo Adekanmbi, chief marketing officer, MTN Nigeria alluded to the fact that halving of the tariff was to enable people get things done, while adding that Nigerians now have the liberty to pick their best eleven across all networks to add more value to their lives. “For us, customer satisfaction is key, which is why we are offering even more value for money by upgrading the Family and Friend feature so our customers can talk endlessly with the best 11 members of their team, said Adekanmbi, further adding: “Family and Friend allows customers to talk to 11 registered family members or friends, at a low rate of 11 kobo per minute.
This tariff allows you to score great goals in your relationship, career and in life generally by providing a platform where our subscribers can share moments of bonding, conviviality and excitement in a manner that makes them better people.” Funmi Onajide, general manager, corporate affairs, MTN Nigeria, said with the re-launch of the MTN TruTalk service, the firm is striving to meet and the expectations of its subscribers, with a promise to create other innovative products in the course of the year. “For us at MTN, the launch of these extensions to the MTN TruTalk plan is an attempt to demonstrate our understanding of the desires of the vast majority of customers. This is the desire to talk and to talk cheaper. Whilst it is true that this industry is gradually moving to Telco 2.0 – the focus on data and digital services – we also realise that there is a need to make it easier for people to talk. Although at the moment, data is the crown-prince, voice remains king,” Onajide added.
MTN TruTalk is a prepaid tariff plan that offers a flat rate of 20 kobo/sec across all networks from the first second a call is initiated. The tariff plan does not attract a daily or monthly subscription or access fee. Customers can migrate to the service by dialling *400#. Subscribers can register 11 numbers for Family and Friends, which also allows them to register three off-net numbers by simply dialling *560*1 *the number you want to register#.“Our pledge is to continue to enrich the customer experience by offering a robust bouquet of innovative products and services. The launch of two additional features to the well accepted TruTalk service is a testament of this pledge. We will continue to explore new, innovative initiatives to avail our customers more value for the services that we render,” said Akinwale Goodluck, corporate services executive, MTN Nigeria. The MTN TruTalk service is currently available to only pre-paid customers.
Globacom, SMEDAN in pact to empower 17mn SMEs
Globacom, second national carrier, is partnering with the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) to boost economic empowerment of Nigerians. Bature Umar Masari, director general, SMEDAN, has lauded indigenous telecoms operator, Globacom for its inspiring initiatives and economic empowerment of Nigerians. Speaking at the official signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Globacom at the company’s headquarters in Lagos, weekend, Masari said that “SMEDAN is happy to partner with an indigenous company which has become a global brand. Ever since Globacom demystified the myth that per-second billing for calls was not possible, they have not stopped developing products and services that are beneficial to Nigerians, especially the masses.”
Masari explained that the partnership which will run for an initial period of five years with the opportunity for attractive call rates as Closed User Groups (CUGs) and a channel to advertise their products and services via Call Back Ring Tone.  He explained that the project will also give 10 percent of the net revenue from the partnership to select Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). Masari ‎signed the MOU on the partnership on behalf of his SMEDAN while Ashok Israni, regional chief marketing officer, (West Africa), Globacom signed for the telecommunication company. The partnership which will cover about 17 million entrepreneurs under SMEDAN is seen as a enormous stimulus to boost economic growth in the country.
Giving details of the agreement, Globacom’s head corporate sales, Kamaldeen Shonibare, said that the telecoms company would through the partnership empower small and medium enterprises who are members of SMEDAN in their businesses by providing them access to grants, soft loans and capacity training programmes. The training opportunities, he explained, were designed to equip the entrepreneurs with current value-adding global best practices that will help them reposition their businesses. He said Globacom teamed up with SMEDAN on the initiative because Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises were the engine room for the rapid growth of the economy because of their closeness and importance to the day-to-day existence of the people.
“As a proudly Nigerian company, Globacom is partnering with SMEDAN to catapult Nigeria to greatness through the empowerment of SMEDAN’s over 17 million members. We will support SMEDAN and its affiliates with funds, sensitization workshops and business tools. We will also support the Industrial Development Centres being established in some states of the federation. Our dream is to catapult numerous five thousand naira businesses to half a million naira enterprises within one year,” Shonibare said. He added that Globacom’s “partnership with SMEDAN is in sync with our irrevocable commitment to the promotion of the welfare of Nigerians through our various life-transforming empowerment programmes. Over the years, we have invested heavily in such programmes. Our empowerment schemes are multi-faceted and they cut across various demographics.”
Shonibare stated that Globacom had touched lives in all the three tiers of government, the financial sector, sports, arts and culture, technology, fashion, education, agriculture and technology.” He assured SMEDAN members that they would enjoy more telecoms benefit as Globacom had concluded arrangements to empower them with specialized lines for better and seamless communication. He reiterated Globacom’s continuous support to all progressive areas of human endeavors including sports and entertainment. He also encouraged entrepreneurs to take full advantage of the window of opportunity that will lead to more business prospects in the future.
E-BUSINESS
Interswitch targets fresh prospects in Africa’s online payment market
The payment switching company itself is backed by Helios Investment Partners, the same group that owns stakes in independent mobile tower management companies Helios Tower Nigeria and Helios Tower Africa.
Interswitch’s decision to invest $10 million in the development of innovative payment solutions is illustrative of Africa’s rapidly evolving mobile and online payments markets. Through new investments, analysts at Business Monitor International (BMI) are of the view that Interswitch has the potential to capture growing opportunities in the electronic commerce and mobile Point of Sale (PoS) markets. In February 2015, Nigeria-based integrated payment, processing and transaction switching company Interswitch announced the launch of a $10 million ePayment growth fund Growth Fund. Through the fund Interswitch will support the development of innovative payment product and solutions which will deepen Africans’ interaction with financial services.
The fund’s first investment is in Africa Courier Express (ACE), a Nigerian e-commerce logistics and warehousing firm. ACE offers tracking, delivery, pay-on-delivery (both cash and electronic) and warehousing solutions for retailers, and operates distribution hubs in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan and Abeokuta. Total funding of $2.6 million Interswitch will enable ACE to accelerate its expansion across Nigeria and West Africa. Interswitch itself is backed by Helios Investment Partners, the same group that owns stakes in independent mobile tower management companies Helios Tower Nigeria and Helios Tower Africa. Interswitch runs a network of automated teller machines (ATMs) in Nigeria and Uganda, through which financial institutions and mobile operators can allow customers to access and process transactions in their bank or mobile money accounts.
Interswitch also provides business-to-customer (B2C) web, mobile and bank branch payment solutions for clients in the aviation, retail, education, healthcare, government, oil and gas and telecoms sectors. Aside from its latest investment plans, in September 2014 Interswitch also expanded its reach through the acquisition of a majority stake in East African e-banking services and solutions company Paynet Group. Paynet operates in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda, and counts Ecobank, Commercial Bank of Africa, Standard Chartered, MasterCard, M-Pesa and Safaricom among its partners. Interswitch is far from the only company catering to banks’ and retailers’ desires to tap into the growing web, mobile and point of sale (POS) payments market; its main competitor in Nigeria is eTranzact, which has also expanded to other markets in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Meanwhile global providers such as MasterCard and Visa have been deepening their relationships with financial institutions and mobile financial service (MFS) providers to capture a share the deepening penetration of financial services among African consumers. Interswitch’s investment in ACE will enable the company to offer end-to-end e-commerce solutions for retailers, from processing online transactions to delivery of goods. As broadband penetration and disposable incomes across Sub-Saharan Africa continue to rise, BMI sees strong growth potential for the e-commerce market, illustrated by Jumia’s initial success in the region. Part of Jumia’s success is due to its investment in last-mile delivery networks, and BMI therefore believes Interswitch’s collaboration with ACE will receive strong interest from retailers looking to expand into the e-commerce space.
In terms of development of the MFS market, BMI has long held the view that greater interoperability between operator- and financial institution-led platforms would offer the strongest long-term growth potential for MFS. This trend is beginning to emerge, for example through mobile operator Orange’s partnership with Ecobank across the region in February 2015. As this gains traction, BMI believes Interswitch could leverage its partnerships with both operators and banks to integrate transactions across independent platforms. Another emerging payments area which analysts at BMI believes has strong growth potential is mobile points of sale (mPOS). Although Interswitch has little exposure to this market so far, we would not be surprised if it became a key area of investment for Interswitch’s ePayment Growth Fund.
Ben Uzor