MTN Nigeria and Kenyan start-up Ajua have partnered to launch EnGauge, an eCommerce mobile app to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The app, which is available from Google Play, provides services such as digital payments, CRM tools, customer feedback channels, customer debt management and tracking, as well as business and product promotions through mobile and social media channels.
Upon registration with the app, businesses are automatically provided with a unique business code (USSD) which allows their customers to interact, transact and communicate with them instantly. MTN EnGauge is currently only available on the MTN network. A monthly subscription costs NGN 500.00 (US $1.30), and a yearly subscription costs NGN 5,500.00 (US $14.40). The application can be used offline once clients have logged in and obtained their USSD code.
MTN EnGauge also expands payment options, thus increasing convenience for customers. The USSD code allows business owners to receive payment and obtain feedback from customers, while enabling customers to claim offers and promotions via their mobile devices.
This offering from MTN in partnership with Ajua appears to be a very worthwhile attempt to do what operators need to be doing in the present phase of the mobile market—devise value-added services that transcend the traditional roles of MNOs, so that they can stay relevant and competitive.
Given that more and more SMEs—not just large enterprises—see e-commerce as essential to their business and want to interact with customers online, and given that much of that interaction will be on mobile devices (especially in “mobile-first” economies in developing countries), it is natural that a product that streamlines this process and delivers it in a package would do well with SMEs. Making the USSD code the key to the process provides business clients with both security and ease.
In addition to facilitating sales, by allowing SMEs to interact with their customers online, EnGauge provides those SMEs with actionable information about their customers and about how the customers perceive the company’s brand. Armed with this information, they can then improve services and products as needed.
From MTN’s side, the fact that EnGauge is available only over the MTN network makes it a potentially effective aid to acquisition and retention of business subscribers as well as consumer subscribers. MTN seems to have made a good choice of partner, in that Ajua launched a similar platform, called SME Connect, in its home country of Kenya in mid-2020.