Saturday, February 20, 2010

Insights from the Mobile World Congress

This was again a few hectic days in Barcelona during February. The pace was frenetic, the business dinners till late at night and the attendance a record figure. It was a time to see old friends (that has been coming to this event for ten years), but also an opportunity to meet new once. Many of the truths of our industry was re-inforced, but some were shattered (as always).

It was the same as all the previous years, or was it?

As far as mobile financial services were concerned this year's congress was a watershed. This industry can now truly be counted as one of the cornerstones of this industry. Mobile Financial Services (MFS) was treated on an equal foot to handset manufacturers, billing systems and antenna designers. Mobile banking organisations received three of the twenty GSMA awards during the event and a very well-attending MFS session was arranged. While the dedicated MFS space for exhibitors were not that well subscribed (many of the suppliers exhibited in conjunction with other suppliers in other halls), the traffic at these stands were high.

What was also interesting was the number of "pure" financial services companies that were present at the event. Both Western Union and VISA had a very visible presence and many other players could also be seen. While this is an event organised by telco's for telco's, the banking participants were welcomed at the event - with some even sharing the stage to tell about their experiences and lessons learned.

Many press releases also indicated a level of activity (more about this in another blog).

The success stories of wallet deployments also seem to indicate that while mPesa was a pioneer, this is not the only player anymore that have cracked the problem of a successful roll-out.

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