News, views and commentary from the telecoms sector across emerging markets and developing countries worldwide

Monday, 11 May 2009

Advice for emerging markets cellcos looking to replicate the success of M-Pesa

I am fortunate to be receive, on a regular basis, very insightful reports from the TIME practice of management consultants Arthur D. Little. The most recent of these is upbeat about m-payment services. Some advice is offered to the various value chain players in emerging and developed markets. For the former, the advice seems to be directed largely at mobile opertators, from which we might infer that MNOs have the opportunity to establish themselves as the key players in developing countries.

Mobile operators, attracted into the m-payment space by minimal competition from conventional payment-channels in emerging markets, are advised to take "an active role in shaping the regulatory environment" because the competing financial industry may lobby for policies and regulatory mechanisms designed to keep MNOs at bay. Mobile operators are also urged to "focus on low value/high frequency transactions and have a special focus on remittances". Finally, Arthur D. Little advise operators to continue to build up cross-border partnerships to ensure cross-border interoperability of remittance services across emerging markets.

In March ran a feature which noted that mobile financial services have continued to gain traction, particularly in developing countries.

"Mobile financial services fall into two distinct camps; additive and transformational banking", states that article. Additive banking is defined as "services targeted at markets that already have traditional financial services at their disposal." Transformational banking is defined as "the practice of extending banking and payment services to those people who do not have ready access to banking facilities" - i.e. largely people in developing countries or migrant workforces in more developed countries.

The article notes that transformational banking is currently grabbing a good deal more column inches than additive banking and cites the well-known example of M-Pesa, initially launched by Kenyan cellco Safaricom and later launched in Afghanistan and Tanzania by MNOs Roshan and Vodacom Tanzania respectively.

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