Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Killer applications

Most would agree that doing payments or banking is not fun. It is not something that we would do if we could help it. (Well, maybe with the exception of receiving payments!). To provide sexy banking services is a contradiction in terms in my book. This is one of the reasons why mobile banking and payments will never prove to be successful unless it can be used for something, ... well sexy.

The mobile banking and payment industry refer to these things that you can do with mobile banking and payments as the "killer applications". Giving access to your consumers to "killer applications" that they can pay for easily on their mobile phone is the trigger (and key) to a successful mobile banking/payment implementation. In this blog-post, I list a few categories of what applications have been "killing" and which ones are likely to "kill" in the future.

The most frequently quoted killer application is the ability to buy pre-paid airtime directly from your bank account using a mobile phone. I have heard some observers talk of this as being not that sexy, but some of the case studies are immense and only thing I would say is:"ignore air-time purchases at your own peril"

Others that have already been implemented and have proved to be successful are bill payments (low margins are the biggest challenge here), cash on delivery (big money here), payment for parking (requires enough cars and less parking to work - not the case in many countries), some examples of retail payments, payments for content and other pre-paid (e.g. pre-paid electricity).

Payment for the purchase of lottery tickets and other gambling applications have been implemented by a few operators, but it is my opinion that this has not proved to be that successful. I am of the opinion that this is because we have not yet figured out how to do this effectively on mobile phones - so that it works for the new form factor. Many people have ideas on how to turn this into killing applications, but I have not seen them yet.

Others that should also be mentioned in this blog are of course money remittance. Many examples of this type of application have been deployed with good successes. The challenge in this area is working with regulatory constraints and to turn localised deployments into global deployments.

Other killers that I sense are lurking will come from micro lending, export/import, other financial services and many niche applications (like transport, medical, content etc.)

Once again, what do you think?

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