As MWC comes to a close, it is clear that there is an array of new and exciting mobile banking and payments offerings on their way. Putting all the hype to one side, three trends have stood out for me which reflect the increasing momentum and investment
in the mobile financial services space.
First is that Orange had a goal of signing up 500,000 NFC users in UK and France last year and succeeded in reaching that milestone even though NFC is still in the early adoption phase. Second has to be the scale of Citibank’s current mobile banking projects–
it has live projects in 27 countries, which will become 40 countries by Q3. Citibank has only achieved this scale though through partnerships. As mentioned in my previous blog, partnerships between banks, credit card providers, mobile operators and technology
providers have certainly dominated the proceedings here in Barcelona, as firms manoeuvre themselves into position to grab their share of the market.
The investment by Scandinavian telco, Telenor, in the roll-out of its EasyPaisa service in Pakistan is a perfect illustration of this manoeuvring and the third fact that struck a chord with me. Its approach has been to become a majority shareholder in Tameer
Microfinance, the bank it has partnered with to deliver EasyPaisa. For a telco to effectively buy out a bank is a proactive strategy that not only ties it in with the bank’s network of customers but also reflects its confidence and appetite to move forward
and lay its stake in the mobile money ground.
Interestingly, Telenor is eyeing up the opportunities in the under-developed countries too, where entrepreneurial and innovative mobile financial services have been prevalent for some years. Indeed, MWC has been ripe with debate about whether these service
providers, with the experience and efficiency to take mobile banking and mobile payment services to market, will launch an assault on the developed nations. This is just an observation but their expertise in delivering innovation could well give them a competitive
Whether innovation in mobile financial services is set to become a reality in the near future remains to be seen but the innovative offerings in the mobile space in general are certainly worth getting excited about. The picture recognition app by the start-up
firm, Blippar, looks set to transform the way in which advertisers and marketers will communicate with their audience and greatly enhance their user experience. Seeing what the likes of Blippar are doing for the retail and FMCG industries reiterates how behind
financial institutions are in coming up with creative mobile services. The market is becoming a crowded place as MWC has proven so if banks want to start seeing the money coming in from the mobile channel, they are going to have start thinking out of the box