Wednesday, September 23, 2009

One of the most successful Mobile Banking Conferences ever: hosted by Celpay

What makes a conference successful? For a start, the speakers should know their topic and be able to present it in an entertaining way while at the same time ensuring that they convey key messages. In addition, I also believe that the participation of the audience is crucial. Nothing is as frustrating as a passive audience or an audience demonstrating their ignorance by the questions they ask. Of course, conferences are a networking opportunity and meeting the right people and quality interaction with them also contribute to making a conference successful. Lastly, the logistics of the conference - arrangements, the venue, food etc. are also important.

I recently attended one of the best mobile banking conferences ever. This was hosted by Celpay in Lusaka (Zambia) and scored high on all of the criteria of making a conference successful. The biggest reason, however, was that each of the speakers at the conference was experienced in the topic that they presented on. They were not trying to make a quick commercial point or using the platform as a badly disguised marketing exercise. The contributions was well-thought out and I personally learned lessons from each presentation. In addition, the contribution from the audience was of an extremely high calibre.

This made me think why it was that a conference with predominantly local speakers in a country like Zambia can be so stimulating. I believe that the reason for this is that mobile banking is not theoretical any more - it is an integral part of the economic situation in the country. Mobile banking has grown to be a vibrant, growing eco-system that contribute to improving many aspects of the economy (from small businesses anfd agriculture to the under-banked). The Zambia mobile banking market is one of the oldest (first commercial deployments were in production during 2002). Maybe we should make a point of listening to the practitioners more.

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