EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: M-Pesa pioneer and Vodafone’s managing director of mobile money, Michael Joseph, has told Mobile World Live of his frustration at the way in which operators have tackled mobile money deployments, claiming the industry has been held back by a lack of long-term investment.
“Mobile money is not a typical mobile operator product like a ringback tone or a new SMS product or something like that,” he says in an exclusive new interview. “It’s not a product you launch and then six months later you start to see if it’s successful, and if it’s not successful you can it. This takes a lot of dedication and a lot of effort and it usually takes two or three years before you can actually see it be successful.”
Despite his disappointment at the industry’s failure to replicate the scale of success of Kenya’s M-Pesa service in other markets around the world, Joseph believes there are signs that the industry is now moving in the right direction. “Mobile operators are starting to see the real benefits of mobile money, which is not contribution to the bottom line, although that does come. But it’s the retention of your good customers, it is your ability to maybe ask your customers to pay a premium for your voice services or your data services because they have a good mobile money product; that’s what the benefit is. So I’m starting to see some effort being made.”
Elsewhere in the interview Joseph offers his advice to operators attempting to launch successful NFC services and explains why the technology could also be used in emerging markets. He also reveals some of the markets that he believes are ripe for potential M-Pesa launches.