Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Mobile Banking Lacks a Global High-Tech Leader

Using mobile phones for financial transactions, or m-banking, has seen rapid adoption in countries like the Philippines and Japan. Though the service remains fragmented and country-specific, this week’s CIO magazine points out the growing opportunity for m-banking in Africa.

CIO bases their assertion on survey results from South Africa, where local bank subsidiaries are already processing thousands of mobile transactions each month, and the biggest barrier to wider adoption seems to be a lack of consumer awareness.

Finding signs of m-banking success in South Africa is not surprising. Vital Wave Consulting research reveals that the mobile phone saturation rate among South Africans living at or above subsistence is comparable to the level in European markets. Saturation in South Africa (and Nigeria), together with rapidly increasing mobile penetration rates in other African countries, create a fertile user base. And mobile phone-based financial services are particularly attractive when poor roads and public transportation systems make a trip to the bank an expensive, all-day journey.

There are ample, quantifiable business opportunities in the m-banking value chain for multiple players, including banks, international credit companies, carriers, and software designers. While financial service providers are moving quickly to realize these opportunities, no global technology leader has stepped forward. A multinational high-technology company capable of providing such mobile solutions has much to gain by enabling comprehensive m-banking across emerging markets.

Also in the news:
• Microsoft is putting their money on smart phones as the next computer
GSM and CDMA search for the best foothold in developing countries
• Vodafone unveils handsets designed for emerging markets

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