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Standard Bank launches MVNO collaboration with MTN in SA

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South Africa-based Standard Bank has announced a new mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) collaboration with telecoms operator MTN.

As part of the bank's telecommunication strategic direction, Standard Bank Mobile will now be called Standard Bank Connect and will introduce a new set of data and voice packages.

"We are excited to collaborate with MTN and the opportunity to provide our customers with a range of newly differentiated mobile plans. The transition will be gradual, where we invite our customers to join us on our pilot program, helping us to build meaningful services together and experiencing Standard Bank on MTN's wide network," said Kartik Mistry, executive head of Standard Bank MVNO.

Standard Bank launched its MVNO offering in late 2018. In 2024, it now has over 300,000 mobile customers, with bank fees offered back in airtime based on the products and services customers have with the bank.

At the launch, it said the MVNO would roam on both Cell C and MTN's networks. Now it seems it is doubling down on its partnership with MTN.

Kartik Mistry, executive head of Standard Bank MVNO.   (Source: Standard Bank)
Kartik Mistry, executive head of Standard Bank MVNO.
(Source: Standard Bank)

Competitor First National Bank (FNB) was the first South African bank to introduce a mobile offering when it launched FNB Connect in June 2015. By March 2023, it had 879,000 active SIMs on its network.

In September 2022, Capitec launched its own MVNO service, called Capitec Connect, promising data that would not expire.

Besides the banks, there are a number of other local MVNO brands linked to retailers and other businesses, including: me&you Mobile, Mr P Mobile, PnP Mobile and Afrihost, to name a few.

In April 2023, MVNO Melon Mobile launched its commercial operations in South Africa, also roaming on the MTN network.

Virgin Mobile South Africa shut down its MVNO in 2021, after 15 years in the country, and Lyca Mobile shut down its services in South Africa in January 2024, after six years.

Standard Bank Connect strategy

Standard Bank said the new-version MVNO will offer two main types of connectivity packages: Connected Circle, which offers both voice and data connectivity; and Connected Gigs, which focuses on data-centric customers.

It said qualifying Connected Circle and Connected Gigs plans will also include monthly discounts on tech accessories of up to 50% through Standard Bank's partnership with Dress Your Tech.

"Standard Bank Connect represents a significant step forward in our commitment to providing our customers with end-to-end connectivity solutions that are tailored to offer more simplicity, more value and greater flexibility," Mistry added.

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Quintus de Beer, MTN South Africa's chief wholesale officer, welcomed the partnership with Standard Bank, calling it a trusted brand in South Africa and across the African continent.

"Our aim is to create shared value by placing our partners at the centre of all we do whilst for fulfilling our vision that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern, connected life. To this end we are committed to providing a proven, quality digital network and affordable mobile and network solutions," de Beer added in a statement.

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*Top image source: freepik.

— The Staff, Connecting Africa

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