Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mobile Money being used in retail applications.

The spectacular growth of mobile wallets in emerging markets have been because of a big need in these markets. How to pay for things remotely (like airtime or bills), how to get money over a distance (like in remittances or person to person payments) and other challenges. As the penetration grew, more and more applications of the digital payment platforms were being developed - some of them very innovative.

Lately, there has been a drive to find solutions for using mobile to pay in a retail environment. These types of payments are mostly done in cash (and sometimes using traditional card solutions). While the existing solutions work well, they are still open to fraud and theft. Utilising the existence of many mobile money wallets in retail environments seems to be a logical next step. Many solutions have been deployed in this domain. Some have shown acceptable traction, but we are still waiting to see the big breakthrough. The challenge is to design a solution that is easy to operate, safe and fast. This is not so easy in a world where (almost) no phones have any NFC capabilities.

Some of the interesting or more relevant solutions that I am aware of are the following:
Orange Money have partnered with Total in a number of countries to offer retail payment solutions in Total outlets. (Read here). It is not clear how different this is to the existing Person to Person functionality. The most widely published example is the Lipa na mPesa service rolled out in Kenya. This service is build on some technology innovation, but it is the well-developed fee-structures and commercial framework that really makes this very real in Kenya. (Read here). An interesting innovation is the Imara card in Uganda (Read here), that can be linked to any of the mobile money schemes in the country. By swiping the Imara card, the customer is asked to authorize the transaction on their phone after which the payment is debited to the mobile wallet.

All of these initiatives are very interesting and most have a good chance to grow to critical mass, but the future sustainability is not clear.


Unknown said...

I agree telephone banking has had it's day. Online banking, apps and wallets are the future.

Quadri Opeyemi said...

Hi Hannes,
The emergence of mobile money tells us that one day you will only need to speak to your device to make payment for you.

That's still being tested already in US.