Weekly Review September 19-23


Banks and mobile network operators are working in an environment that is constantly evolving with the addition of new competitors, new regulations (or lack thereof), and new markets. The mobile payments world in emerging markets is experiencing explosive growth and widespread support, as evidenced in the following articles.

First universal mobile payments platform goes live” on Mobile Money Africa
Luup is now providing universal mobile payment systems through a combination of Microsoft BizTalk Server and Temenos T24, a core banking software used around the world. Luup CEO Martin Wilson claims that the platform can serve corporate and retail users in both developed and developing markets on any mobile device on any mobile network. Successful mobile payment platforms are scalable and fall in line with regulatory and security requirements. Luup believes their service meets these criteria, “connecting senders and receivers of funds across the globe.” The integration of Temenos T24, a technology used in “over 1000 financial institutions in more than 125 countries across the world,” implies that Luup is highly adaptable and is likely to be successful globally.

Banks have some good news… are they listening? By Kabir Kumar on CGAP
Although these are tough times for banks, a recent research project on branchless banking by CGAP, the Inter-American Development Bank, and Akya (a banking consultancy) found some good news. Branchless banking, though fiercely competitive in emerging markets between banks and MNOs, can present new and opportunistic business cases for banks. There are five key findings regarding the business case for banks in the collaborative report. First, a critical factor to success in branchless banking is a strong agent network. At low transaction volumes, in rural areas for example, an agent is the most economical option. Second, banks offer branchless banking because it is an additional and efficient channel to reach unbanked or under banked segments. This allows them to grow their market share, while increasing cash flow activity. Third, a strong agent network adds value for a branchless banking customer by offering a new level of convenience. Fourth, branchless banking promotes growth of the bank and markets, and also reaches new geographies and customers. Finally, banks practicing branchless-banking practices will find that payments can make a substantial contribution to profit. The full presentation, “Understanding the business case for banks in branchless banking” is available here.

Liberate mobile payments for more inclusive economy” by Wesley Lynch on Mobile Money Africa
Despite the tremendous adoption of mobile money penetration in Africa, South Africa’s rate of adoption has been lagging in comparison. Wesley Lynch, CEO of Realmdigital, blames this on the regulatory environment in South Africa. The restrictive banking regulations also limit innovation from MNOs who could offer cheap and easy mobile transaction services to customers at the BoP. M-PESA’s famous success in Kenya has not been repeated in South Africa, “a country with 13 million unbanked citizens.” The major obstacle for mobile network operators to behave as banks has been government regulation. Once mobile network operators can obtain banking licenses in South Africa, the mobile payment ecosystem will open up a new, liberated economy.

Nigeria: GSMA to Partner State on Mobile Money” by Obinna Chima on AllAfrica
The mobile payment industry in Nigeria has the support of the Global System for Mobile Communication Association (GSMA). The GSMA promises to ensure the successful adoption of mobile money in the country by working closely with the federal government and key banks and mobile network operators. Mobile payments transactions could improve trade and commerce significantly in Nigeria thanks to the high level of mobile penetration and the high number of unbanked citizens. Mr. Ross Bateson of the GSMA stated that mobile money would increase productivity and improve the Nigerian economy. Additionally, there are other opportunities beyond mobile payments that access to mobile can offer to enable development.

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