Naspers-owned comparison website and mobile app Price Check signs branded deal with MTN in South Africa and will sign another deal in Nigeria

Top Story

Naspers online investments outside of South Africa have had a mixed track record. But this week one of the more successful ones signed a branded deal with MTN in South Africa and will look at to sign with mobile operators in Nigeria, its other big market. Russell Southwood spoke to Andre de Wet, PriceCheck’s CEO.

In South Africa PriceCheck has 1.5 mllion unique users searching for products on its web and mobile sites (around 35% are on mobile). The site has over 30 million products in 6,000 categories from 400 stores. The MTN deal is designed to drive mobile traffic to the site:”Our mobile app will be redesigned and co-branded as PriceCheck bought to you by MTN with 9 radio buttons. One of these goes direct to MTN so that you can buy airtime and products.”

“Less than 1% of retail happens online, yet as much as 40% of the buying decision process starts on mobile. We are now in a position to impact that crucial moment of influence. The future of commerce is on mobile and together with MTN, PriceCheck is closing the loop.”

As part of the launch in South Africa, the app will be available across all MTN devices, and in app stores for Android, BlackBerry, Windows and iOS devices. The app will also be pre-loaded to the MTN Steppa device. Since the launch of this operator owned Android (Gingerbread) $50 smartphone, in excess of 60,000 units have been sold in South Africa.

So what’s the basis of the deal? de Wet is not forthcoming with exact numbers but gives the basis of it:”It’s a revenue split. They get increased data use and we get more mobile customers. It’s a win-win for both of us. The split is not even but it’s a split on gross revenues. The expenses are on our side as we are putting a substantial amount of marketing behind it.”

In Nigeria, PriceCheck has 200,000-300,000 users a year and has only been in operation for a year:”There we have double the traffic on mobile to what we have online. There’s 1 million products and we’ve targeted 200 stores, of which 100 have gone live.”

“There are different things you won’t find in South Africa like groceries and fashion. It makes sense ordering things like groceries online because of the traffic.” PriceCheck will be looking for both co-branding deals with operators and pre-loading deals with handset vendors in Nigeria.

Though no-one is saying it will sign with MTN there, MTN’s Group Chief Commercial Officer, Pieter Verkade says:”Whereas our customers in South Africa will be first to enjoy the benefits of this relationship, plans are already underway to introduce a local version of the app in other markets in the region.”

So what’s PriceCheck’s business model?:”We send the traffic to the websites providing the products and get a small percentage of the order price. If you pay more, you get a better (listing) position. There’s an algorithm that creates rankings based on a number of criteria.”

Digital Content Africa: Balancing Act’s web TV channel Smart Monkey TV has launched a new e-letter called Digital Content Africa. On a fortnightly basis, it will cover online film, music, publishing and services and applications. We have already produced 11 issues and these can be viewed on this link: 

Essential reading for those in mobile VAS to anyone just interested in what African and relevant international content they can now get online. If you would like to subscribe, just send an email to with Digital Content Africa in the title line.
Some examples of past issues below:

Digital Content Africa Z – 11 Soon Come: Digital advertising has yet to catch up with online content use levels
Digital Content Africa Z-9 – Nigeria’s Ringback Tone music work is worth US$240 million a year, Says Spice’s Ram Suggula
Digital Content Africa Z-5 Two new African Mobile Music and Video Content Bundles with a handset attached

New videos this week

What will Africans Pay for Online Content? - A Discussion at DISCOP 2013
Marie Lora Mungai, Buni TV on how to make a success of African online content
Babak Fakhamzadeh on app for seeing a city differently, covers Kampala and Joburg

A Nigeria Special

Co-founder Ralph Tamuno on Nigerian online travel company
Bankole Cardoso on Easy Taxi, an app for Lagos out of the Rocket incubator stable
Kresten Buch on opening an 88Mph accelerator in Lagos
Jesse Oguntimehin on Nigeria's hidden social media & what happens next to the country's social media
Ngozi Odita on Social Media Week Lagos and why it's making waves across Africa
Folabi Esan on what they look for in an African tech company investment
Tomi Davies on what tech angels look for when they invest in African companies

Other videos you need to watch
GamersNights: Multiplayer computer gamers in Uganda, spreading out across Africa
John Luberenga, on a coffee company app and a health app for clinic data collection
Brian Ndyaguma on hiveCOLAB and the Ugandan start-ups it supports
Kenneth Oyalla on how Nokia's new range of handsets have increased Internet use in Africa
Gaurav Singh, Chief Digital Officer, Scan Group on when brands will spend more on digital in Africa
Joris Komen on the Library Pi, a low cost, solar powered device to deliver education resources
Byron Moorgas on mapping online rural areas of Africa and how UNICEF is using mapping data

For breaking news, follow us on Twitter: @BalancingActAfr

Dear Balancing Act,

From continent to continent, there has been reactions to the issue of OPEN INTERNET. There has been several issues and concerns generated and still generating.

The African Continent is yet to react to the OPEN INTERNET DEBATE. Perhaps. the African Telecommunications Union should take a queue from their European colleagues and also take a position.  

The latest of such reactions on the OPEN INTERNET DEBATE is from all the various European Telecoms and ICT bodies. For instance, the European Parliament may put in jeopardy, services to Broadband users, such as VPN's for businesses, IPTV and Telepresence. They may also prevent Operators from efficiently managing their networks and from providing innovative services that require enhanced levels of quality, such as Telemedicine or eEducation.

Some of the European Parliament proposal is threatening  Consumers Choice in the emerging Digital Economy and the functioning of the Internet.

African Regulators and indeed the African Telecommunications Union must make a contribution to the OPEN INTERNET DEBATE.

Thanks and regards.

Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo
National President, NATCOMS