LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360-MIDDLE EAST: A “cut and paste” approach to mobile financial services is unlikely to lead to successful propositions, with services tailored to local markets the preferred option, Zahir Khoja (pictured), CEO of Mobile Payment Solutions (MPS), said during this morning’s keynote session.
Citing Safaricom’s “highly successful” launch of M-Pesa in 2006, Khoja said: “We all did a copy/paste and brought it to our mobile operations, and we didn’t see 25 million people sign up for it”.
“We have to innovate, we have to talk to consumers, we have to ask them ‘what is it that you want?’ And only then, when we’ve invested in finding out what consumers want and how to bring it to them, do we start to see results,” he continued.
The MPS executive, who represents a joint venture of payment giant MasterCard and Smart Hub (a subsidiary of Philippine operator Smart), noted that a robust ecosystem is key to the delivery of mobile money services.
“It’s a variety of partners that are required. No single entity can do this on their own. It requires collaboration, and communication, and a common vision among all the partners to create the most compelling user experience and use case,” he said.
“What does this mean for the consumer, for the merchant, for the partners, the mobile network operators, the banks, and MasterCard? What it means is a tremendous opportunity,” he observed.
However, such partnerships require a collaborative mindset from the various parties involved, many of which may be less familiar with taking a back-seat.
“There are a lot of entities with their hands up, saying they want to play a part in it. I think mobile operators, if they can realise what their role is in the value chain to the consumer, and manage that expectation, they will start to realise that 10 per cent of a lot is revenue, whereas 50 per cent of a little doesn’t do much,” he said.
“The span of attention that operators give to value added services is very limited, partly because we’ve been very fortunate in that when we’ve launched services consumers take to them, and we see the hockey stick graph almost immediately. With mobile financial services, there’s a lot more time and investment that’s required,” he concluded.