South Africa has a new instant messaging service, and it’s not WhatsApp, Signal or Telegram. A new platform called Moya is on the map and it’s proving successful with the South African market, with 6.5 million monthly active users. Despite being a very similar service offered by current providers, Moya provides one main difference, it’s data free!


Built by the company, Datafree, CEO Gour Lentell reveals that they are able to offer no data costs via reverse-billing and cloud-based technology. After doing some all-important research, This free messaging app is attempting to plug a fundamental hole in the app game in the country. “Most people in South Africa are regularly without data because of the cost”, says Lentell. When people don’t have the money to invest in data, they miss out on instant messaging, a vital service in today’s fast-paced, digital environment.


Are you a business looking to make smart decisions and cut costs? Moya might be the free messaging app for your small business. Apart from investing in a business email that provides you with a professional address and productivity tools, instant messaging has become a popular way for brands to connect with customers or clients. But sometimes, data costs get in the way.


Customers can message, send and receive voice notes and even access other services without paying with data, as long as customers are using a sim card from a supported network. Supported networks include MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and Telkom in South Africa, MTN and Airtel in Nigeria and MTN in Cameroon, Zambia and Uganda. While sending attachments isn’t free, a notification will be sent to customers beforehand to remind them that this function will incur a charge.


Despite having less than 10 million monthly active users, compared to WhatsApps’ 25 million, Datafree is hoping to reach 23 million monthly active users by the end of 2023. It plans to roll out the platform as a “super app”. A “super app” is defined as “a closed ecosystem of many apps that people would use every day because they offer such a seamless, integrated, contextualized and efficient experience.” It’s essentially one app that offers a number of services and features to customers. Think about WeChat, after launching as just a messaging app, it morphed into a platform that now offers one million “mini-programs” that allow users to do a variety of things, from ordering a taxi, to applying for a loan.


That means that you not only get access to a free messaging app, but also a host of other useful features that SMEs will find useful, including:


  • MoyaPayD: An e-wallet platform that allows you to pay merchants, employees and even get paid yourself
  • MoyaDiscover: Content services including news, sports updates, Wikipedia research, weather and government services
  • MoyaCalling: A video calling feature that allows users to connect, data free


The app is also working closely with businesses to offer a marketplace type of feature, an ad space, a business-only account for business messaging and a market research function. While the app does make some revenue from adverts, it is a minimal amount, says Lentell.