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MBABANE - A company which claims to have designed the Mobile Money (MoMo) platform for SMEs on behalf of MTN Eswatini is demanding over E29 million from the former for alleged breach of contract.

Mobile Money is a service permitting monetary value to be digitally stored in a mobile phone and transacted to others through text messaging. IO Lab (PTY) Limited, which also claims to have automated the capturing of VELA (Know Your Customer) and the piloting of MoMo for SMEs (small and medium enterprises), alleged that MTN Eswatini had continued to benefit from the proceeds of the platform without paying them as the brains behind it.


IO Lab, a company registered in terms of the company laws of Eswatini, is not only demanding the sum of E29 160 000, but said it reserved the right to apply for a court interdict to stop the continued use of the platform while the matter is still pending. The company, IO Lab (PTY) Limited, alleged that it entered into a partnership agreement with MTN Eswatini during the year 2017. Through its lawyer, Sifiso Maseko of SM Maseko Attorneys in Mbabane, IO Lab has caused to be issued a letter of demand to MTN Eswatini, where it is demanding payment of the aforementioned amount within 14 days.

According to the company, it allegedly developed a SMEs’ Mobile Money proposal /platform for MTN Eswatini, which was supposed to be rolled out as a partnership between the parties. The proposal, according to the company, was firstly to automate the capturing of ‘Know Your Customer’ (KYC), and then pilot the use of MoMo for SMEs as payment option. These are allegations contained in the letter of demand whose veracity is still to be tested in court. It is further alleged by IO Lab that during the discussion of the partnership, MTN Eswatini was engaged in a financial offer of how much the partnership would cost. Offers and counter-offers, according to IO Lab, were exchanged between the parties.

The company submitted that, while it was waiting for signature of the contract on the agreed terms, MTN Eswatini allegedly went ahead and rolled out the proposal, which the company had developed for it.  “Further to the roll-out of the proposal, you continued to financially benefit from the proceeds of this proposal to the exclusion of any payment to our client. This is unlawful, as it constitutes a breach of the agreement between the parties and you unjustly enriched (yourselves) at our client’s expense,” reads part of the letter.


In the demand, the company went on to allege that, the final offer, which it had accepted, was a payment of E0.30 for every transaction made on Mobile Money (the payment was a 70 per cent/ 30 per cent payment model). The 70 per cent, according to the company, was to be payable to MTN Eswatini while IO Lab was to be paid 30 per cent. The agreement, as per the company was for a lifetime. “These accepted terms were the ones counter offered by ourselves. Calculating the lifetime payment when the offer was accepted by our client on or about January 2017, we estimate that the E0.30 on every Mobile Money transaction would have rewarded the client an amount of E29 160 000. Our client instructs us to make a demand of payment for the sum of E29 160 000 being payment for the proposal/platform developed for yourselves, plus his share of the payment as agreed between yourselves.”  IO Lab claimed during the alleged conclusion of the contract between it and MTN Eswatini, it was represented by its Director, Phila Dlamini while Thokozani Mamba, who is a Senior Mobile Money Manager, reportedly represented MTN Eswatini.


In conclusion, the company said if MTN Eswatini failed to pay the amount within 14 days, it would issue summons for the recovery of the money. In response, MTN Eswatini Corporate Affairs Manager, Thandiwe Mashinini, said: “With regard to the issue cited in the questionnaire, our policy restricts us from discussing customer issues such as this one on the public domain, which makes it difficult for us to respond to any of the questions posed to MTN.” Mashinini had been asked to shed light on this issue and to confirm whether MTN Eswatini had received the letter of demand.

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