MTN launches eSIM for prepaid customers

MTN has unveiled a new electronic SIM card (eSIM) feature tailored for its prepaid customers in South Africa. The company’s official announcement was made on August 25, 2023, following a heads-up from Zelo Nogwaza, who speculated about the feature’s availability a couple of days earlier.

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Nogwaza received an SMS notification earlier in the week, suggesting the activation of an eSIM for a secondary line on his iPhone. The message conveyed the convenience of MTN’s eSIM, emphasizing the shift away from traditional physical SIM cards. The process was described as requiring only a few simple steps to initiate. To proceed, the SMS advised Nogwaza to visit a nearby MTN store to acquire their eSIM.

Intrigued by the prospect of eSIM for his Apple Watch, Nogwaza attempted to contact the MTN store at Centurion Mall, but his calls went unanswered. Turning to the call center for assistance, he found that eSIMs were indeed available for prepaid users. However, the agent’s explanation was somewhat tentative, leading Nogwaza to question whether the feature extended to wearables.

MTN later confirmed through an official statement that the eSIM service for prepaid customers was currently compatible with a “range of smartphones,” while plans were underway to extend its availability to wearables at a later date.

There is a new FAQ section on MTN’s website that detailed the operation of eSIMs for prepaid customers. The section provided guidance for existing MTN users seeking to transition from a physical SIM card to an eSIM or awaiting a QR code for activation. Notably, the “Activate eSIM” link was not yet live at the time of the report.

The FAQ addressed a variety of devices, encompassing instructions for activating eSIMs on devices from Apple, Huawei, Samsung, and other Android smartphones. Furthermore, specialized sections catered to eSIM activation for wearables and Windows devices, the latter pertaining to laptops and tablets equipped with built-in eSIM functionality.

MTN clarified that customers purchasing devices with eSIM capabilities would receive an email containing activation instructions and a QR code. Unfortunately, attempts to access the link for requesting a QR code resulted in a non-functioning page.

MTN underscored that the eSIM service for prepaid customers would be accessible at its stores without any additional charges. The introduction of eSIMs for prepaid customers marked a notable shift for MTN, which had already offered this feature to its contract customers for a considerable period. This release followed MTN’s earlier commitment to introduce eSIMs by the end of 2022, a timeline that was subsequently delayed. Notably, other major players in the mobile network arena, including Cell C and Telkom, had already made eSIMs available to their smartphone customers in 2021.