LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS SHANGHAI: Chairman of the GSMA and CEO of Telenor, Jon Fredrik Baksaas, heralded the work of the former’s Mobile Connect programme and proclaimed himself excited about the latter’s newest market, Myanmar, as he shed light on the importance of digital and financial inclusion at the opening keynote on the future of mobile.
He said that Mobile Connect, a single sign-on solution that enables customers to create and manage a universal identity providing secure authentication and access to a range of mobile and digital services, is “gaining momentum”.
“The inherent security of the mobile phone and SIM card can enable secure and convenient access to a range of digital services, such as banking, commerce, retail and e-government,” he explained.
Eighteen mobile operators have launched the service in 13 countries, with plans for additional launches and beta trials to follow this year, he said, adding that “Telenor is one of the key operators taking an active role in driving the adoption of Mobile Connect.”
“The industry is reaching out to a billion users by 2016,” he added.
He also said the GSMA has identified several areas that present opportunities and benefits for consumers, including equipping operators to support the transformation of adjacent industries via the Connected Living programme and putting digital wallets at the heart of the digital commerce ecosystem.
As for Telenor, he said the company is working on driving digital inclusion with its “Internet For All” strategy and is serving more than 6.4 million people in Myanmar, its newest market, where it launched with 2G/3G voice and data services.
“We’re still at the early stages, but we’re excited about the progress we’ve made already and the impact that mobile will have on these citizens’ lives,” he commented. “On the very first day we launched we had 521,000 new connections in one day. Even by Chinese standards that’s not a small figure. Between 50-60 per cent of those customers already use mobile for internet access.”
Baksaas also said he believes digital inclusion enables greater financial inclusion, saying that “as costs of serving people with low income using traditional banking infrastructure are prohibitive, mobile networks can support innovative new business models for banking the unbanked.”
With over 255 commercial mobile money services deployed by operators globally, he said the focus of the GSMA is “on bringing deployments to scale and promoting interoperability among mobile money services to create a truly ubiquitous mobile money system.”
“As mobile operators invest in mobile money systems, technology and platforms, the industry is starting to experience sustainable revenue growth,” he said, adding that realising the full potential of mobile money will need a supportive regulatory framework and “long-term, patient investment”.
He also believes the private and public sector need to work together to maximise the positive impact of mobile, rather than pull in opposite directions.
“In fact, with the right support, the mobile industry can help the world address many of its most pressing challenges, such as delivering sustainable healthcare and education, economic growth and social cohesion, while countering poverty and climate change,” he concluded.