Can Moya Break WhatsApp’s ZA Dominance?

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South African company Datafree wants to transform its messaging app Moya into a super app that takes on WhatsApp’s dominance in South Africa.

It’s a tall order. According to an October article in TechCentral, WhatsApp has an estimated 25 million daily active users in South Africa. Moya, according to Datafree CEO Gour Lentell, has about 6.5 million monthly active users, with ambitions to reach 23 million by 2023.

Datafree does have an edge, however. Using operator reverse-billing technology and a cloud-based technology platform, Datafree is able to allow users to chat for free. So even if every byte of data has been consumed for the month, Moya users can still chat away.

Lentell’s ambition is to use this data-free model to morph Moya into a super app, a la China’s WeChat. Part of his logic is that South Africans on average download no more than five apps onto their phones. So an app that rolls several common features into one has a better chance of being one of those five.

“The all-in-one app makes perfect sense for Africa,” Lentell told TechCentral. “People won’t install lots of apps, so the super-app model is appropriate. And if you make it ‘data free', so much the better.”

Moya has also used its data-free platform to push content services to its users, including job postings, religious material, and books.

To further Moya’s super app ambitions, in July Datafree rolled out MoyaPayD as a “full-blown” mobile wallet within the Moya app.

With the new wallet, for example, users can buy groceries free of fees at Shoprite Group stores. It’s also free to receive up to five money transfers per day. A 1% transaction fee kicks in after the fifth transaction. Each MoyaPayD user also gets a unique QR code so they can receive payments directly on their mobiles into their e-wallets.

Lentell also sees Moya as an instrument for helping the underbanked free themselves from reliance on cash.

Originally published in the Africa SMME Tech Report

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