A month has passed since the closing of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. But although the event lasts less than a week, its effects reverberate around the industry for many months – before the cycle in the second half of this year begins to look towards MWC 2017.
Like many other companies, AsiaInfo exhibits at the event and takes the opportunity to meet with customers, prospects and other market influencers. But MWC is also an opportunity for us to take soundings on what else is going on in the wider mobile market and to assess which of those developments and initiatives will impact our business and our customers’ business, by presenting new challenges and opportunities for the value chain.
We were particularly interested in the developments of a technology area that was deemed eye-catching and ground-breaking a few years back, but has certainly taken its time coming to the boil – mobile money.
Mobile banking certainly had a slow start, but the GSMA released figures at the show which showed growth of 31 per cent to some 411 million mobile banking accounts in 2015. December alone saw more than a billion transactions and 271 banking services are now live in 93 countries.
And there is also evidence of a growing wider mobile payments infrastructure. US payments company Atlas launched a service to help developing countries access international banking solutions; and the world’s largest handset supplier confirmed that Samsung Pay (launched late last year in the US and Korea) has already handled average transactions worth $100 per registered user ($500 million for over 5 million users).
Of course, where there are payments, there’s also a need for improved security. The use of biometrics in handsets is now widespread, but other methods of using smartphones to drive authentication solutions were also on show in Barcelona – with the GSMA revealing that its Mobile Connect initiative was live with 34 operators in 21 countries and potentially two billion subscribers.
So what does all this mean in our world of Business Support Systems (BSS)? Our solutions already support carrier billing and our Veris O2P collaboration platform makes it easier for operators to integrate services from third party suppliers – whether those are banking solutions, payment or authentication apps.
We have written before about one of the other trends at Barcelona – for partnerships and joint ventures between operators and vendors looking to launch new services. It is also very likely that several of the companies in the mobile money and authentication market will seek to form operator partnerships to extend their reach. Of course we have partnerships of our own – with Amazon Web Services, Trend Micro and Reliance – and we are always on the lookout for other players in order to offer innovative and integrated solutions that are rich in value, to our operator customers that allow them to quickly and easily bring new business and consumer services to market.
The worlds of banking, payments, authentication and security are increasingly looking at the power and global reach of the smartphone as the services and solutions hub. We are committed to playing our role in the process by easing the integration and monetisation of those solutions for our operator customers.