Published on May 7th, 2010 | by Babar Bhatti4
Payments using Mobile Phones: Case studies from Pakistan and Other Emerging Telecom Markets
In the recent mobile 2.0 expert forums, I had the opportunity to hear Case studies from Pakistan and Other Emerging Telecom Markets. There was also a lively discussion from the audience. As mentioned on PTA website and at LIRNEAsia post, the foucs of this forum was to go beyond voice. The first session of this forum focused on m-payments, m-government, m-commerce. Consider this info (from PTA) as a background.
In 2008, only 10% of the Pakistan BoP knew about the financial services available in mobile platform. Awareness ratings of m-government and m-health services were lower. Actual usage of any of these services was by less than 1%.
We know that the mobile payment services in Pakistan have been the hottest service in the last year or so. Aamir Ibrahim, Chief Strategy Officer of Telenor Pakistan shared a presentation on the topic of Telenor’s experience with Mobile 2.0 initiatives and in particular with EasyPaisa. The vision for Easy Paisa is to bank the unbanked. The progress that EasyPaisa has made in 6 months is quite impressive: over 600,000 utility bill payments have been made and money transfer of about Rs.1 billion has been completed.
Mr. Ibrahim agreed that this service is in very early phase and they have big plans for making the service easier to use, share the service outside of their own network and to expand it to Pakistanis abroad. There were questions about the regulatory framework and why Telenor bought Tameer Bank. Mr. Ibrahim provided detailed answers about their strategy to own majority stake in Tameer Bank and to use the franchise network as payment distribution channel.
Other emerging economies are also in similar situation. Kenya for example, has seen good progress with its m-Pesa program launched by the dominant mobile company Safaricom. Muriuki Mureithi, Summit Strategies, Kenya shared the reasons for success of mPayments in Kenya. He emphasized that the market was ready for a solution and the company exploited the situation well. See his presentation here.
Sriganesh Lokanathan of LIRNEasia talked about Leveraging Mobile 2.0 for Agricultural Market Access. This reminded me of TeleKisan and similar service from Mobilink. Neither of the services offered in Pakistan are that popular. One needs to look at these and think about whether it is due to lack of demand, limited value of service or some other socio-economic factor? May be its as simple as lack of awareness and hesitation of using mobiles to get such critical information.
Harsha de Silva, PhD of LIRNEasia presented the case study of mPayments in Public Transport: The case of bus tickets in Sri Lanka.