Mobile Money Competition

It’s no surprise the mobile phone’s influence socially and economically in PNG. Digicel have obviously been getting praise for allot of their innovations with their services and thankfully they really are a catalyst for mobile based services.

But a blog post by Martyn Namorong got me thinking about the real economic efficiencies that can be achieved with the mobile phone. More specifically in his post he stated that recently in an INA seminar, QUT Researcher Amanda Watson pointed out that mobile phones rurally were being used more as a social tool as opposed to an economic tool.

A local cocoa producer Amanda interviewed on Karkar Island told her that he did not feel that there was any economic benefit from using mobile phones. She clarified this statement by adding that this may be due to the fact that other enabling factors such as market information and transport systems weren’t in place.

She further highlighted that some practical and policy recommendations were required to make mobile phones effective economically. She noted that the cost burden of mobiles phones was still too high for many subsistence farmers. These costs were related to recharging of credits and phone batteries as well as the fragility of handsets. She said that the benefits of opening up of the mobile market to competition should now be used to add impetus to opening of other sectors of the economy to competition.

So again, that key word competition. Digicel brought the true meaning of competition to PNG, but competition must still exist in the market.  If the cost of using mobile phones is still expensive and prohibitive for the rural population, how much will it cost to do business via mobile phones?

We recently developed an SMS banking simulation software for BSP (see here and here) and it occurred to me during the job that perhaps mobile banking was a service better run by a bank as opposed to a mobile phone operator. My reasons are as follows:

  • Banks already have your bank Accounts so the direct access to your funds for purchases should mean less hidden transactions fees,
  • Banks are regulated by financial security requirements,
  • Banks already have EFTPOS relationships on a wider scale with vendors which can quickly be transferred to mobile payments,
  • The more banks involved, the more competition so that we can see how cheaply we can get mobile banking running in the market.

When it comes to money and trying to get the best deal for your business to get ahead we should always have competition to choose from. Mobile banking should not be the service of just one company.

*Read more about Digicel’s Cellmoni service here and here

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8 thoughts on “Mobile Money Competition

  1. People’s Communication for Development or PC4D gives an overview on how communication tools are utilized, not utilized or under utilized by grassroots women. This might be a bit outdated, published in 2007, I would have to assume that PNG have transitioned further in terms of ICTs. Although not solely focused on ICTs, it gives you a clear picture on actual benefits/values of various communication tools. Here is the link: http://www.isiswomen.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=832:peoples-communications-for-development&catid=163:publications&Itemid=240

    There is a chapter on PNG. You might be interested to read it 🙂

    On a more personal note: It’s always a question on accessibility and availability of ICTs. Those who can’t afford them are still marginalized in terms of its social, economic and even political benefits. In some instances, ICTs are still seen as an exclusive and elitist tool. There are instances as well that ICTs are still not maximized even if it is available. There are of course several compounding factors why it is so (infrastructure, price, etc.). But I think, the mere fact that there are people like you advocating this, can increase chances of improving and heightening people’s agency with ICTs.

  2. Beware the scam artists – now moving into mobile phone banking. They have been operating email scams for years and it’s still going on.

    I received eight copies of this email recently.

    It’s a well known scam. No reputable bank will ever ask you to reveal your on-line banking details like this. It’s interesting that they have moved on to the BSP – it’s usually bigger western banks.

    I’ve never had an account with them. But I wonder how they got my email address?

    I understand there are similar phishing attempts using mobile phones in several countries.

    DO NOT click on the BSP link if you receive this email – it will take you to a fake site and skim your details. Just delete it.

    PS – I have disinfected this copy. The original contains hidden links and codes

    ______________________________________________

    From: Bank South Pacific Limited (fake email id used here)
    To: (your email)
    Subject: BSP Online Personal Internet Banking

    Dear Customer,

    Due to the recent upgrade on our server, we urge you to validate your online banking details.

    You are to click on the website given below to validate your internet banking profile.

    (fake link deleted)

    Note: If you choose to ignore our request, you will leave us with no choice but to temporarily suspend your internet banking.

    Regards,
    Bank Of South Pacific Limited
    .

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