South African mobile operator MTN Group MTNJ.J said on Friday first quarter pretax profit rose 21.1% year-on-year, supported by service revenue growth amid demand for data and financial services.
MTN, with 276 million customers in 19 countries across Africa and the Middle East, said service revenue came in ahead of its medium-term target, growing by 15.9% year-on-year to 45.8 billion rand ($2.86 billion).
That was supported by a 37.3% increase in data revenue, with growth in data usage and active data users of 45.4% and 13.1%, respectively.
Fintech revenue grew 21.2% as active monthly users of mobile money services climbed 25.9% year-on-year and volumes processed by its fintech platform rose 32.5% to 2.9 billion transactions. The value of transactions increased 12.6% to $59.9 billion.
After its Nigerian fintech subsidiary received final approval for a mobile money licence last month, MTN is planning to commercially launch its mobile money payment service in Africa’s most populous country before the end of the second quarter, group Chief Executive Officer Ralph Mupita said.
Mobile phone operators like MTN have been pushing into financial services on the continent, where a large part of the population does not have good access to traditional banking services.