Mobile Payments, Mobile Transactions, mCommerce, Pay by Mobile, Mobile Money Transfer, mMoney, however you call it is becoming a very crowded space and it all comes down to the Mobile Financial Services Market .
I've written about it in the past in "Mobile Payments: Top 10 Issues between Banks & Operators" and "Mobile Payments Tipping Point" and "Text M for Money" and "$1.1 Billion passed in Chinese Mobile Payments" and "Hawala Money"...well you get the picture, this is a space I'm sharpening my perspectives on.
Clash of the Titans--and the under-card-- Rumble of the Developed & Emerging Economies
At the Mobile World Congress there was huge attention to the Mobile Payments market. The GSMA's Pay by Mobile and Mobile Money Transfer briefings were oversubscribed by 5x ! Beyond the obvious titantic clash between MNOs vs. FIs, there is the conflict between technologies such as simple SMS vs. other bearer access points such as USSD, GPRS or even IVR in the mobile transactions space. Of course the really big conflict is going to be services already becoming available in emerging markets affecting the development of mobile transactions in developed markets. Who will lead and shape this space, the unbanked or the overly banked?
Some quick data points picked up in Barcelona:
- Mobile payment usage via a mobile enabled payment mechanism is expected to be used by 1.4 billion people by 2015, or 26% of the user base
- In a survey by EDC, mobile money transfers is considered to be the most strategically important mobile financial service in the future
- By 2012 it is estimated that 12% of subs in developed markets and 9% in developing markets will use domestic money transfers, which translates into 504 million users globally.
- SMS is viewed as the preferred channel for mobile money exchanges My friend, and emerging markets mobile payments specialist, Michele Scanlon suggested I take a look at Bharti Telesoft, so I cornered a conversation with Kresh Goomany, Vice President of Bharti Telesoft's Africa Region.
Bharti Telesoft's Mobiquity platform embraces the mobile phone as a convenient payment and transaction medium. They have open APIs to both banking and credit card gateways enabling operator services providing a high level of security, making it highly a flexible service delivery platform utilizing a multi-bearer access utilizing SMS, USSD, GPRS or IRV platforms. The Mobiquity platform is a swiss army knife of mobile banking initiatives covering mobile banking, ticketing, money transfer, bill payments, pre-paid airtime top-up, micro-credit transactions, credit card interfaces. Seems to do it all...although from a US centric perspective, I've yet to see any of these presentations which cover the mobile as a "gift cards" mechanism.
Listen to my podcast with Bharti Telesoft's Kresh Goomany (9 mins)
The value proposition of Bharti Telesoft is their genetics and the geography they're focusing on. Bharti Telesoft is a spin off of Airtel with roughly 40 million subscribers in India, providing value added services for the Indian market for some years. Now they are moving into the high growth, low ARPU, unbanked markets in middle Asia and Africa for the mobile transactions business. They open with their "Pre Top" (pre-paid top off) services for operators, and then move up the value chain to FIs or operators offering Roaming Re-charges, Mobile Banking such as balance queries and alerts, money transfers such as domestic or international remittances as well as mobile payments covering utility bills. Clearly they have the right strategy in entering the emerging markets, especially Africa which Kresh covers their market strategy in depth in the podcast. If Bharti Telesoft is defining the development of the mobile financial services markets in developing economies, what's next?
Bharti Telesoft: Big player to follow in the Mobile Payments / Mobile Transactions space.
What do you think of Bharti Telesoft's prospects? Why aren't any western vendors of this size so well positioned as Bharti Telesoft? Will they eventually control the mobile payments play globally or is this likely to be a market structured along regional differences? Tell me what you think.