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MTN Nigeria activates new channel partnerships

MTN Nigeria has activated several new channel partners with Fintech operators in response to the recent disruption to its banking channels which rendered airtime and other services temporarily unavailable. 

The disruption stemmed from a dispute over the reduction in cost of sales associated with banking channels which prevented consumers from being able to purchase airtime and other products on 2 April 2021. MTN Nigeria issued a statement confirming that all services had been restored on Sunday, 4 April 2021.

The operator stated: “This was agreed on the basis that MTN would revert to its previous cost of sales structures with banking partners, until a new long-term agreement can be reached on a sustainable pricing structure going forward. Consequent on the intervention of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, the Nigeria Communication Commission and the Central Bank of Nigeria, since April 6, 2021, MTN has been participating in a series of meetings to align on longer term pricing structures.”

MTN added that it had activated a number of new channel partnerships with Fintech partners and “these will remain in place, significantly expanding the channels available to our customers and increasing our sales and distribution network.”

The new channel partners include Sparkle, Konga Pay, Barter By Flutter Wave, Jumia Pay, OPay, Kuda, Carbon, BillsnPay, MTN On Demand, MTN Xtratime airtime loans (*606#), myMTN.

The operator said: “The impact of the disruption was minimal on our operations as we were able to successfully activate alternative channels to enable our customers to purchase airtime and stay connected.”

SIM/NIN issue

In March ITWeb Africa reported that Nigeria’s telecommunications market has been hard hit by the decision by government in December 2020 to suspend the sale and registration of new SIM cards, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The SIM/NIN registration policy directed subscribers of telecommunications services to obtain a National Identification Number (NIN) and integrate this with their SIM registration details.

Three months into the policy, traders are becoming increasingly worried.

Market research to date shows that teledensity has decreased from its highest peak of 108.92% at the end of November 2020 and a drop in the number of mobile subscriptions from nearly 208 million to 200.2 million.

Additionally, Nigeria’s active internet subscriptions have dropped from nearly 155 million at the end of November 2020 to about 151.2 million at the end of January 2021.

Mark Walker, Associate Vice President for Sub-Saharan Africa at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey, said the MTN Nigeria issue reflects disruption of traditional purchasing methods by omni-channel availability of services coupled with high customer expectations.

“MTN demonstrated that focus on digitally-enabled customer experience factors such as ease-of-use, accessibility, and speed will force traditional value chain participants to re-evaluate their costing models and channels.In essence, the owner of a route to market that meets CX expectations best will have a significant competitive advantage and be able to leverage competitors and external parties such as regulators effectively,” he noted.

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