MTN becomes the world-first to offer airtime top-up on WhatsApp

MTN  has finally come up with some brainy idea, becoming the world-first service provider to offer an airtime top-up via the Facebook-owned WhatsApp

It is not new to see a business organization set up a customer care service on the Facebook-owned WhatsApp, especially by using the business version of the app, however, seeing a service provider brand like MTN come up with an amazing strategy- an airtime top-up channel, is an incredible one. I mean, who can believe that WhatsApp can do beyond messages? Only MTN had that in their brain box all along, and finally, they have successfully proven that to the world and Nigerians especially.

In a statement addressed by the service provider, the company informed that it has begun the “world first” WhatsApp channel that allows customers to buy airtime and data bundles. With customers able to purchase them through the messaging app, the company’s GM Gareth Murphy said that he wants MTN’s services to be more convenient by providing a better customer experience.

“It’s no secret that the telecommunications sector, around the world, has not excelled at this and we want to change that at MTN,” said Murphy…Simple solutions that are easy to use, and which fit neatly into our customer’s lives, will help be a great differentiator for us.”

Using this channel, customers can also check their balances and store their credit or debit cards in the app for future purchases.

The success of the story is, however, not solely credited to MTN alone, but also to another company that has a global reach, Clickatell who was a major part of the success story. Clickatell is a WhatsApp Business Solution Provider. Founded in Cape Town in 2000, it claims to be have developed the worlds’ first SMS API, helping businesses to communicate using the standardized communication protocols.


Murphy further stated that the service should enhance customers overall digital experience and not just a top-up solution which is the major achievement. Some of the other experience to enjoy also includes ‘ see detailed balance’, ‘Buy data bundle’, ‘Manage your bank card’, among several others. As seen below is an image showing what the experience would look like on a first visit.

“People don’t want to have to call a call center, they want to control and this solution puts the control squarely in the hands of the consumer. We understand which social media platforms the majority of our customers use and how much time they spend on them – so we’re taking the solution there.” Murphy informed.

Further, the major reason for choosing WhatsApp as the go-to app for a development like this cannot be far-fetched. In South Africa, the Facebook-owned WhatsApp is extremely popular.

With the population of 58 million, 49 percent of the country’s 38 million mobile subscribers are already using the messaging app, according to the Digital in 2018 in Southern Africa report by Hootsuite and We Are Social, which compiles statistics from various sources. Aside from South Africa, WhatsApp is also been used vastly is some other countries where MTN is been hosted, take for instance Nigeria which has one of the highest numbers of internet users of over 90 million.

“It’s imperative that companies focus on improving self-service experiences to retain and grow customers and this is an important step for MTN, in addition to what we are doing to upgrade our overall customer journey,” explained Mapula Bodibe, MTN SA’s executive for consumer business.

Though MTN claimed a “world first” in allowing customers to buy airtime via WhatsApp, Absa customers can already do just that via its service.

MTN apart from being a network provider is definitely a problem solver, and it has won for itself the award of one of the most innovative brands.

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