"The mobile financial services is not about technology, but about building and winning the market," said Telenor Executive Vice President, Kristin Skogen Lund as she addressed a packed auditorium at the Mobile World Congress (MWC).
The use of mobile financial services and applications are expected to grow noticeably in the next couple of years. As part of a keynote session at MWC labeled “Financial Services in a Mobile World” Kristin Skogen Lund and CEOs from financial institutions discussed new developments and progress within the mobile money industry.
In her presentation “Mobile financial services for everyone” Kristin gave a short account of Telenor Group’s efforts within this area, which goes all the way back to 1998. Since then, Telenor has delivered mobile money services in all its markets; Enabling customers in Budapest to pay toll road fees on the mobile, bus tickets in Stockholm, utility bills in Dhaka, to make internet payments in Bangkok and so on.
Addressing some of the challenges experienced during the first wave of mobile money services, Kristin pointed out that every time Telenor, or other players, launched mobile payment services market pick-up was slower than expected.
Not about technology
“Based on this, we believed that the technology was not mature. But this is not about technology. This is about building the market,” she said explaining to her peers how Telenor Group has broken ground by shifting its focus.
“After a few years of mobile business in the early nineties we realized that mobile telephony is for everyone, including ordinary customers in emerging economies. To reach everyone, we therefore developed a method and an attitude, which we have also used in rolling out financial services. With low costs, we reach wide, where people and businesses are,” said Kristin and pointed to Easypaisa in Telenor Pakistan – our flagship mobile money service – as a good example of this.
Our flagship mobile money service
Easypaisa already has the largest financial services network in Pakistan, with more than 16.000 certified agents, compared to the bank’s combined 9.000 branches. Account openings can be carried out in only 5 – 10 minutes. Money is sent immediately to anyone that the customer would like to send money to, not only to those with bank accounts.
Similarly, she also highlighted mobile money services in Sweden where Telenor has joined other telcos in a company called WyWallet, which offers customers a secure and easy eCommerce payment services.
“We have found a way to work with banks and regulators. Banking services will have to be done under banking licenses – in the banking space. We know national financial authorities welcome mobile financial services, as efficient banking made for everyone will grow the national economy and create opportunities for the large groups of people and businesses,” she said with reference to last year’s study commissioned by Telenor Group which indicates that mobile financial services may increase financial inclusion by 5 – 20 per cent by 2020 and lead to up to 5 per cent increase in GDP.
“We find regulators growingly supportive of players outside the regular brick-and-mortar banking industry,” she continued.
Near Field Communication
The proliferation of NFC-enabled handsets, and the deployment of the associated infrastructure is said to be reaching the tipping point which will bring advanced mobile money services to the mass market. In a comment to this, Kristin said that NFC (Near Field Communication) will win ground as a technology if it serves the needs in the market and we – the operators – understand how to win the market.
Last year, Telenor and DnB Nor, Norway’s largest bank, ran a NFC pilot in which 250 or their customers tested the option of paying via mobile. The findings from the trial were solely positive. 80 % reported satisfaction and 97 % said that they would use such services in the future. Test users said they would use mobile payment if it is offered on preferred mobile phones at numerous shops.
“We know how to do this; we know how big we need to think; we know the marketing resources need; we know how to work with the banks. We will create mobile banking for everyone – convenient and efficient,” Skogen Lund concluded.