MTN is set to launch a new instant messaging platform as part of its mobile money portfolio, with the goal of becoming as successful as WeChat.

Group CEO, Rob Shuter announced that the company plans to launch the platform, a music streaming service, and an improved mobile money offering during a media briefing in Johannesburg.

The app will be launched in its operational markets this year, starting with the West and Central African markets as a pilot program.

When asked about competitors like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, Shuter said MTN’s platform will offer communication channels that do not rely on data alone.

The integration of SMS will allow data-enabled 3G customers to converse with non-data customers on a seamless messaging platform.

MTN’s messaging app which is built from scratch by an in-house team, offers localization, and currently supports 54 languages.

It will be a messaging-centric app with an embedded payment mechanism with incentives for customers by bundling data promotions and services.

Integrating payments in the MTN messaging app will allow users to make payments to other Mobile Money customers easily while communicating with other users.