Tawanda Karombo

PriceCheck and MTN are exploring other African markets where the South African group has a presence to expand their co-branded app that enables mobile network users to access the online price comparison directory offered by PriceCheck.

Both regional and international investors are increasingly tapping into mobile commerce and executives in the sector say it is an untapped area that has vast opportunities and potential for growth.

Aster Thomas, the business development manager for an online travel and booking company, said there was increasing adoption of the internet as a platform where people could carry out mobile commerce activities.

On Tuesday, PriceCheck chief executive Andre de Wet confirmed that Nigeria would be the next market in which his company and MTN launched the co-branded app. A version for the South African market was launched in March.

The co-branded app avails price comparison information integrated by PriceCheck for the benefit of MTN subscribers. Industry players attending the Mondato Africa Summit on Mobile Financial Services in Sandton, Johannesburg, said on Tuesday that a deal had also been imminent for the Kenyan market but had not yet materialised.

“There was consideration for Kenya earlier on, but this has for now been shelved and I am not too sure if it will be pursued further,” a knowledgeable source said.

De Wet confirmed that the deal for a co-branded MTN and PriceCheck app for the Nigerian market had been signed. “We will be sending out a news release on this shortly. But, yes, the deal is already signed and we are launching a co-branded app in Nigeria.”

Experts say there is growing integration between mobile devices and commerce, pointing to the increased prominence in applications, platforms and partnerships, such as the co-branded app that is being expanded to Nigeria.

PriceCheck is owned by media company Naspers, while MTN has about 25 million subscribers in South Africa.

“SMS is still growing but this will be overtaken by mobile commerce in the next two years. Mobile commerce brings convenient shopping across platforms,” De Wet added. He told delegates at the Mondato Africa Summit that less than 1 percent of retail happens online, yet as much as 40 percent of the buying-decision process starts on mobile devices.

Pieter Verkade, the MTN Group chief commercial officer, said in March that “the partnership with PriceCheck marks another important step in our expansion into the digital space, particularly into e-commerce, and will allow customers to find the best deal” wherever they go.

“Whereas our customers in South Africa will be first to enjoy the benefits of this relationship, plans are already under way to introduce a local version of the app in other markets in the region,” he said.