Mobile network operator MTN has announced a new feature called MTN Chat recharge, which allows its customers to load airtime and data bundles from within WhatsApp. MTN says the thinking is that more people are on WhatsApp than any other platform, so letting them buy airtime via the messaging app makes the process simpler for them… if they still have a data connection, that is.
MTN Chat recharge will also allow users to receive notifications and check balances through the Facebook-owned instant messaging app, rather than visiting a website, dialing a call center or using a USSD code.
“Customer-centricity is the driving force behind MTN Chat because we are taking a solution for an often-required service, to a platform we know our customers are already using, in the form of WhatsApp. MTN Chat is helping customers simply and seamlessly manage their accounts on a secure and convenient platform they already know and love,” says Mapula Bodibe, MTN SA’s executive of consumer business.
The company plans to add additional features to this direct chat line, like customer support, managing upgrades and checking accounts and balances. And it doesn’t stop there — MTN plans on porting the service to other messaging platforms, like Facebook Messenger.
What’s the catch?
One thing’s for sure — you’ll need an active mobile connection, which requires data or airtime on the device (or Wi-Fi, but you catch our drift). So you’ll have to be sure to load more airtime/data while you still have a bit to spare or have an active Wi-Fi connection.
Signing up though? That’s the easy part. Simply save the MTN Chat number ‘083 123 0011’ to your contacts list, and send this contact a message saying “hi”. You’ll receive a link to opt-in to the service, after which you’ll receive a menu to register your account and set up a credit/debit card. After this, you can access the menu by sending ‘menu’ to the chat.
Through MTN Chat you’ll be able to load airtime, data, SMSes, and various bundles made up of them. MTN says that security is a high priority, so it’s built various safety and confidentiality features into the app (we’ll keep our snarky comments about WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook’s lax approach to security to ourselves).
Asked about security precautions, MTN says that any app has security loopholes, and phones in general have security risks. They advise that users make sure their phones are secure, by setting up two-factor authentication on WhatsApp, and make sure that they receive a OTP from their banks when transactions are made. If airtime is bought, and the transaction wasn’t made by that person — the owner of the account will receive a notification from their bank.
Pre- and post-paid customers can register by completing the process outlined above. You will need to add either a credit or debit card and have it approved for purchases. Once you’ve registered, MTN will give you the “exclusive offer” of 1GB for R49 when using MTN Chat for a recharge, but be warned, it’s only valid for a week. The offer will run for a specific time, and isn’t only once-off.