Mobile carriers in all markets are concerned with churn (i.e., customers who leave their service for another). “Stickiness” is that elusive quality – part pricing, part quality of service, and part brand loyalty – that all carriers desire. The idea that a particular service may convince consumers to stick with a particular operator is not new, but evidence that this is true for mBanking customers in emerging markets is particularly important. After all, there are around 1 billion people in the world (nearly all in developing countries) who own a mobile phone but do not have a bank account. Among these consumers, churn is a major problem, exacerbated by a liberalizing mobile industry with new carriers and lower prices, as well as the introduction of new, multi-functional handsets and stronger networks. According to CGAP, when a subscriber is also a user of mMoney services provided by the operator, client stickiness goes up considerably and churn goes down.
Though the GSMA research focused on mobile financial services, it may be safe to assume that stickiness will result from other mobile services as well. This presents a critical opportunity (or perhaps an imperative) for carriers, service providers and application developers. As new subscribers become harder to find and emerging markets reach saturation points on par with mature-market countries, client retention will be the name of the game. Distinct mobile services and unique functionality will be the glue that binds customers with a particular operator (and/or handset). Telecommunications companies that invest now in the relationships and technology required to expand the utility of the common handset will attract and retain more customers as the market around them grows to maturity.