Friday, February 20, 2009

Monitize to the rescue

Monitize announced that they have been awarded a $ 1.5 million dollar grant by the African Enterprise Challenge Fund (read here). I know that I have written about this before (see here), but I really have difficulty in understanding how this mildly succesful UK company can make a difference in Africa. Not only is it unlikely that they will be able to re-use the UK functionality in Uganda (Java phones, ATM switches, etc.), but they are also late. Many Ugandan-based companies have already (or are in the process of) lanching their mobile banking services. (For instance MTN (read here), Map International (read here), Zain (read here), Uganda Telecom (read here) and Barclays (read here), to name a few).

What really bugs me, is that the donor community fund a European company to bring unsuitable technology to Africa. Yet, it is totally impossible that an African company (with much more advanced technology) could be funded by the donor community to bring suitable solutions to Europe. Something is totally wrong somewhere.

1 comment:

Simon Cavill said...

Whilst there are many fantastic "local" mobile technology initiatives. its a simple fact that the core banking and mobile phone technologies such as payment protocols, secure web services as well as USSD, SMS, voice (IVR) and Java applets etc are mature systems. Many developers in the UK and elsewhere have been using these technologies to develop various applications for the past decade or more.

Therefore that experience was critical in getting the first generation of services built like MTN and particularly M-Pesa which was largely built on the back of a £1M plus grant to Vodafone UK and partners by the UK Government through DFID.

However, its clear that the next generation of mobile financial services will be much more "homegrown". For example, I understand that Zain's ZAP service was built internally and Barclays Hello Money service was also built in India.

Going forward, many of these new generation of mobile initiated financial services may indeed be licensed back to Europe and the US, so it may well be the case that your wish might indeed come true....

Simon Cavill
Mi-Pay Ltd