Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The role of Banks and Mobile Operators

It is like wondering if Alcoholic Bread should be baked or brewed. Mobile banking is a similar contradiction in terms. Examples exist of both banks and mobile operators making huge successes of mobile banking. MTN Banking is an initiative with a clear mobile operator branding, whereas Celpay is owned by a bank and have clear banking characteristics.

The fact of the matter is that the aims the approach and the structure of mobile banking differs significantly if provided by banks or mobile operators, but the important fact is that both are capable of deploying mobile banking succsesfully. In considering mobile banking and the role of banks or mobile operators, one should take the following into account:
  • What market segment is the target market (people with mobile phones, but no/little banking exposure, or people with bank accounts looking for additional access channels?)
  • What revenue models is supporting the initiative (how large is the telecommunication revenue in support of the business case?)
  • What are the secondary objective of mobile banking (Retention of marketshare, or brand enhancement or the basis for other services?)
  • The maturity of the banking industry in the specific country/marketplace
  • The banking support and infrastructure (electronic clearing, ATM's etc)
  • regulatory considerations. Dispensations exist in some countries to support electronic money payment systems from a regulatory perspective, for instance.
With the above in mind, it stands to reason that it is impossible to have a one recipe for all mobile banking deployments. It is important to consider different factors before embarking on a course of action.

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