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MTN wants financial deals

The headquarters of MTN in Johannesburg, South Africa. File picture: Mike Hutchings

The headquarters of MTN in Johannesburg, South Africa. File picture: Mike Hutchings

Published Feb 17, 2017

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Johannesburg - MTN Group will look for new ways to bring

banking services to its customers’ mobile phones in South Africa after severing

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ties with Australian-owned partner, Tyme.  

Africa’s biggest mobile-phone operator scrapped the

Mobile Money payment service it ran with  Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s

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Tyme due to a “lack of commercial viability,” said Maxwell Nonge, chief digital

officer of the Johannesburg-based company’s local unit, without giving further

detail. MTN retains a banking license together with a second partner, South

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African Bank of Athens, and can use that as a platform for new deals, he said.

“MTN is committed to remain a significant player in

financial services and continues to explore opportunities in this space,” Nonge

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said in e-mailed comments on Tuesday.

MTN’s focus on its financial services and digital banking

operations has sharpened following a wave of hires with experience in the

industry. Rob Shuter, who starts as chief executive officer on March 17, has

worked for both Standard Bank Group and Nedbank Group Stephen van Coller, MTN’s

head of strategy, mergers and acquisitions, was CEO of Barclays Africa’s

investment bank and incoming CFO Ralph Mupita was

previously head of insurer Old Mutual's emerging markets unit.

Read also:  MTN in Nigerian tower swap

Mobile Money had gained 5 million customers since its

launch in 2012. Vodacom Group, the South African unit of Vodafone Group,

stopped offering its mobile-banking product M-Pesa in the country as the

strength of the banking system means fewer customers are taking up the service

than in other sub-Saharan African markets.

Tyme competing

For Tyme, the loss of the MTN alliance leaves the firm

with supermarket chain Pick n Pay Stores Ltd. as its sole partner with direct

access to South African consumers. While the Johannesburg-based company is

trying to secure a banking license in the country, several developers have quit

to join insurer OUTsurance, Johannesburg-based Business Day reported. Rolf

Eichweber, the executive head of strategic partnerships and a co-founder of the

company, resigned last month.

Tyme, which stands for Take Your Money Everywhere, can

compete effectively in South Africa without MTN’s backing, spokeswoman Thoraya

Pandy said on Monday. While Tyme’s website still notes its Mobile Money

partnership with MTN, this information is “old and incorrect” and will be

“fixed,” Pandy said.

South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe’s African

Rainbow Capital Pty will buy a 10 percent stake in Tyme, CBA said on Wednesday.

ARC, as it’s known, will introduce black shareholders, Commonwealth Bank of

Australia said, adding that through the Pick n Pay alliance Tyme has 685 kiosks

and has registered 100 000 customer enrollments.

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