Moya Messenger #datafree – New Messaging App

Moya App

In July 2018 a new messenger app was launched known as Moya Messenger which is a mobile messaging app that allows users to communicate without incurring data costs.

This app developed in South Africa by biNu provides #datafree text messaging that works when a mobile user has no airtime or data balance on their smartphone device.

The Moya App works quite similar to popular messaging app Whatsapp but is unique as text messaging is #datafree across all four major mobile networks, MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and Telkom.

According to Gour Lentell, CEO of biNu, they are profoundly motivated by the positive social impact of enabling ubiquitous #datafree mobile messaging, developed in Africa, for Africans, by utilising telco reverse billing, which allows them to pay mobile messaging data costs.

biNu has reverse billing agreements with MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and Telkom, and has built this technology platform that enables partners and customers to make their apps and websites #datafree for end-users.

Despite a multi-million dollar marketing budget, WeChat struggled to gain a foothold in the South African market largely because the incumbent network effect of WhatsApp proved too competitive to overcome.

With the Moya App, you can see a place for a challenger where the data cost barrier of mobile messaging is removed completely for South African consumers, particularly in an era of #DataMustFall and an increased amount of pressure on consumer incomes.

Features of the Moya App

Moya App features
  • There are wonderful features in the Moya App.
  • You get unlimited text and 100% #datafree
  • Offers #datafree Group Chat
  • Offers automatic end-to-end encryption of all messages.
  • You can send attachments but not #datafree which means attachments are fully supported, such as photos, videos, voice notes, documents etc., however sending attachments is not #datafree. Before sending you will be warned you need mobile data or WiFi.
  • Automatically find contacts who have Moya.
  • You can have messages saved even when your mobile is off

To use #datafree apps you need to keep your mobile data turned on.

As long as you are on MTN, Vodacom, Cell C or Telkom #datafree apps will not use any of your airtime or data balance. Please note that other apps may use some data.


Data Free SA
  • Data affordability remains one of the biggest barriers to mobile internet engagement in low and middle-income countries.
  • When an app or website is #datafree it means NO DATA is taken from your airtime or data bundle balance.
  •  The messenger has arrangements with mobile network operators in South Africa, Nigeria, Cameroon, Zambia and Uganda so their advertisers can pay for the mobile data that you use.
  • These networks are MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and Telkom in South Africa; MTN and Airtel in Nigeria; and MTN in Cameroon, Zambia and Uganda.
  • To use #datafree apps you need to keep your mobile data turned on.
  • As long as you are on a partnered mobile network operator #datafree apps will not use any of your airtime or data balance. But note that other apps may use some data.

How to get the Moya Messenger App on your Android mobile?

Moya App - Download

Moya App works for all Android mobile phones like Samsung and Huawei in South Africa and even outside South Africa.

To install the app on your phone go to the Google Play Store or click here to download all the free

If you download from the website then you may be asked to change your security settings to allow installation of apps from sources other than Play Store.

Slide the switch to on and then install the app. You should slide it back off when the app is installed. On some phones, the slider moves back automatically once the app is installed.

The commercial model around the platform is to provide rich, programmatic access to businesses and enterprises of all kinds so users can engage at scale with their audiences through messaging, without a cost implication for their users, members and customers.

According to Lentell, there are opportunities for organisations to benefit from a #datafree platform. For example, financial institutions can deliver customer support and document exchange; trade unions and political parties can communicate with their members; government agencies can disseminate information and implement service delivery; NGOs can reach target communities; and the FMCG sector can reach their audiences.

  • The key feature that sets Moya apart is that sending and receiving messages from businesses or other enterprises remains #datafree for the end-user.
  • It’s counter-productive for organisations to try and engage their customers and mobile audiences on other messaging platforms when they have no airtime available.
  • A core standard that will be applied rigorously to Moya is that all business communication will be on a consumer opt-in basis only.

No airtime? No worries. Text for no data cost on @MTNza @Vodacom @CellC @TelkomZA
Proudly made in #SouthAfrica

— #datafree (@datafreeSA) July 21, 2018

How to limit mobile data usage?

As connecting to the internet on your phone can use a lot of data or airtime but there are a lot of ways to reduce the amount you need to spend. 

This applies to Android devices only e.g. Samsung, Huawei. What you need to know is that:

1. Always buy a data bundle

If you use apps such as WhatsApp or access the internet from your phone without buying a data bundle from your network provider you will pay the highest price for data. For example R9.00 can buy you 60MB of data, so each MB costs 15c. Using data without a data bundle costs R1.50 per MB. 10 times as much!

2. Turn off/restrict background data

  • Open Settings and tap Data usage.
  • Scroll down to view a list of your Android apps sorted by data usage (or tap Cellular Data usage to view them).
  • Tap the app(s) you don’t want to connect to mobile data and select Restrict app background data.

3. Turn off App auto-update

  • Open Google Play.
  • Tap the hamburger icon (three horizontal lines) on the top-left.
  • Tap Settings.
  • Tap Auto-update apps.
  • To disable automatic app updates, select Do not auto-update apps.

4. Only listen to music or watch videos on a WiFi connection

Viewing text on the internet (for example in a website) uses the least amount of data. Pictures (e.g. Instagram, Facebook) use a lot more data but music (e.g. Simfy, streaming radio stations) and videos (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo, Showmax, Netflix) use very large amounts of data.

If possible only listen to music and watch video on the internet when you have a WiFi connection.

5. Use lite apps

Apps like Facebook and Twitter can use a lot of data but both have mobile versions that use less data.

Facebook Lite

Twitter Lite

If you are on Vodacom, the normal Facebook app can be switched to Data Saver mode. It also includes a data free mode which removes all pictures.

If you are on Cell C you can access Facebook and some other apps for free for free through Facebook Free Basics.

6. Connect to WiFi where ever possible

A number of malls, coffee shops, taxi ranks and airports have free WiFi. But remember to be safe while using such public free WiFI.

7. Turn off 4G

  • If your phone has a 4G data connection turning it off will limit the speed at which the internet is accessed, reducing the amount of data you use. This will also reduce battery usage.
  • To turn off 4G, on your phone go to Settings > Mobile Networks > Network mode and ensure it is not set to 4G or LTE.

8. Access the internet using an optimised browser

Optimised browsers process internet content so that it uses less data. Leading optimised browsers include Opera MiniUC Browser, and Google Chrome

With Google Chrome you need to switch the Data Saver on. Open Chrome and go to Menu > Settings > Data Saver.

9. Download Gmail attachments on Wi-Fi only

  • In Gmail and other email apps make sure you set it so you only download email attachment manually or on WiFi.
  • To set this up on Gmail, open the Gmail app on your phone, go to Menu > Settings >tap your email address > Tick the box if you want to automatically download attachments when connected to WiFi or untick it if you want to download attachments manually

10. Monitor or disable data hungry apps

Your phone will show you which apps are using the most data. To see apps use the most data go to Settings > Data Usage.

The apps will be displayed with the highest data usage first. You may want to consider uninstalling any apps that use a lot of data.

11. Buy a dual-SIM phone

By using a dual SIM phone you can take advantage of special offers for data and calling from 2 different mobile networks.

Set your phone to use the best service from each network.


Finally remember that #datafree apps can be used anywhere in the world. Although they will use your airtime or data they are extremely efficient so will use much less than other apps or websites.


Q1. What is #datafree?

When an app or website is #datafree it means NO DATA is taken from your airtime or data bundle balance.

Q2. Is Moya App Browser still available?

No Moya App browser is not available now. The MoyaApp browser was a fast, secure, private browser to go anywhere on the internet.

Q3. How do I check my profile?

Click on Menu (three dots) on the top right-hand side of your screen. Select my profile. Tap “EDIT” to change your profile name or status message. Tap your profile picture to change it.

Q4. Why are message attachments not free?

It is because Media attachments require much more data than text messages.

About the author

Kamal Kaur