Moya Messenger, an SA messenger app set to compete with Whatsapp. Photo: bi.nu.

CAPE TOWN - Moya Messenger is a new mobile messaging app made in South Africa that promises its users the ability to communicate without incurring data cost.

Developed by biNu, which is headed by chief executive, Gour Lentell, the app’s users can message each other without airtime or a data balance on their smartphone.

However, the catch to the no data costs are that you won't be able to send any attachments and must be willing to be exposed to advertising.

Similar to WhatsApp, the app offers unlimited texting, group chat, end-to-end security with automatic encryption of all messages and automatic contact discovery.

Users can send attachments like photos, videos, voice notes, and documents on the app but it will come at an extra cost. 

Moya users will be pre-emptively warned when they will incur mobile data costs, or need to switch to WiFi.

Moya said that it is able to offer this service for free as it has reverse billing agreements with MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and Telkom, and has built a technology platform that enables partners and customers to make their apps and websites data-free for end-users.

The group’s commercial model is to give businesses access to these users – though it said that all business communication to a consumer is on an opt-in basis only.

The app is part of the #DataFree initiative, which offers a collection of apps and sites that do not use up end-users’ data while using them.

 Under this model, advertisers are the ones who pay for any data used.

According to the #DataFree webpage, the group gets paid by advertisers to show users data-free video ads. 

The group said that users will see about one 10 second video advert every 30 minutes.

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- BUSINESS REPORT