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MTN brings Artificial Intelligence to mobile money with an eye to super app

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MTN Group announced Friday it has launched an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered chatbot, making good on its earlier commitment to roll out an array of cutting-edge apps and services in order to effectively serve its over 200 million subscribers across the continent.

A Friday statement says that the chatbot which went live in Ivory Coast in May and will later be rolled out in other markets is meant to ease access to MTN Mobile Money (MoMo) services.

“The artificial intelligence mobile money ‘assistant’ enables customers to engage with MTN’s MoMo services, including payments, on various social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, and via SMS,” the statement says.

“The chatbot is an artificial intelligence guide that assists users to navigate MTN’s MoMo services and provide other useful information. This innovation leverages messaging and artificial intelligence to drive customer engagement and enhance their MTN MoMo experience.”

It is in March of this year that Africa’s largest telecommunications group revealed plans to launch an instant messaging service that it would soon turn into a super app, sort of like a WeChat for Africa.

Rob Shuter, the group CEO, on March 7 while presenting MTN Group’s financial results for the year ended in December 2018 said that the service would offer a wide range of services including a mobile money offering, music streaming, SMS integration, and will support 54 languages.

“We are extending our Bright strategy to build MTN into a digital operator with a major focus on the fintech, digital, enterprise and wholesale business areas,” Shuter said in a statement alongside the results.

“Key focus areas for 2019 are the launch of our own music streaming and instant messaging applications and extending MTN mobile money from 14 to 18 countries through launches in South Africa, Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Sudan.”

In 2018, MTN Group increased its subscriber base by 16 million to 233 million customers across 21 markets in Africa and the Middle East.

The number of active data users increased by 10 million to 79 million and the active mobile money subscriber base rose to 27 million.

Commenting on the launch of the AI-powered chatbot, MTN Group President and CEO, Rob Shuter said, “We are passionate about bringing the power of our mobile money solutions to more than 60 million customers across Africa over the next few years. Harnessing modern technologies like artificial intelligence can improve in scale, how MTN interacts with customers, enabling them to reach us anytime and anywhere, through a variety of channels including social networks and messaging applications. We can also harness the power of artificial intelligence to provide our customers with the right answers to their questions at the right time.”

Shuter added, “We are committed to improving financial inclusion with a range of solutions aimed at addressing the needs of various market segments. While MTN has made great strides in these areas, we will continue working to deliver our vision for MTN to become one of the largest Fintech players across our footprint.”

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