17 February 2009

All eyes on Kenya this week: GSM leaders agree telecoms and emerging markets will help spur economic growth amidst a global recession

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Clickatell, global mobile messaging provider and leader in SMS technology for mobile banking solutions confirms reports that Telecommunications will continue to be a driver of economic activity as it stimulates innovations, increases productivity and efficiency as well as drives increases in GDP. GSM Leaders today confirmed that the economic recovery would most likely be lead by China and other emerging markets such as Africa. 'We expect growth to come in particular within the Telecoms and Banking sector', said GSM Leaders at the 2009 World Mobile Congress being held this week in Barcelona, Spain. At this event, recent mobile banking activities in Kenya took center stage as a key topic among several Mobile Banking, Mobile Money Transfer and Mobile Payment lectures currently underway. Fuelling opportunity and growth, recent banking regulatory changes in Kenya and in other developing countries that permit a broad range of mobile financial services use cases including cash to mobile, mobile to cash, mobile to mobile transfers and other new mobile financial services offerings have been launched to achieve significant end user growth and adoption. It is therefore appropriate to look not only at what is being discussed at the largest global telecom's event taking place in Barcelona this week but to also look at the Banking and Technologies East Africa conference in Nairobi this week for insights and thought leadership.

"Serving customers and communities through mobile and payment technologies, will create a private sector funded stimulus that will fuel local economic development supported in partnership with government; the short term focus is the unbanked and under-banked, but the positive impact will go well beyond the banking sector" says Pieter de Villiers, Clickatell CEO, from the GSM Leadership Summit.

Financial institutions throughout Africa have been relatively unscathed in the current global banking turmoil allowing room to explore new growth strategies and not ruling out continued investment in infrastructure to expand banking services in partnership with mobile technology and telecoms providers. Africa has managed to leapfrog technology pointing to many respects where there are now over 300 million mobile devices on the continent and more transactional SMS's are being sent in Namibia than in New York.

Elsewhere in Africa financial institutions have struggled with the business case to justify the investment and resources allocation required to expand infrastructure and services to rural communities in remote areas, unlike many of the mobile operators (MNO's) who have taken the initiative and found business models to justify infrastructure rollout in remote areas. These same operators are now offering additional services such as MTN's Y'ello Money and M-PESA which are being hailed as success stories as they address real market need and pain points. Africa's consumers have already demonstrated and accepted the use of the mobile phone as a payment device, with airtime becoming Africa's biggest commodity, many already use 'minutes' as a form of currency with which to purchases goods, catch a taxi, pay a bill and even pay their utility company (eg. water, electricity). SMS technology is the communication vehicle being used by companies to engage with their customers, by sending alerts on any account activity, enabling transaction requests and allowing consumers to stay on top of their finances, financial institutions are able to increase customer retention, fight fraud more proactively and bring the benefit of banking to more consumers.

Later on this week at the Banking and Technologies East Africa conference in Nairobi, Kenya; Clickatell will present to an international audience of banks, technology providers, regulators and micro finance companies who are coming together to explore opportunities and discuss challenges about recession beating 'Mobile Solutions for African Banks'.

"We're excited to be involved in this conference and believe these economic times allow for partnerships and joint investment as companies like Clickatell bring banks and carriers closer to sustainable, win-win business models that serve consumers with relevant, value added services. Clickatell forms a critical part of the mobile banking ecosystem through its trusted management of reliable cross carrier infrastructure that is integrated into complex banking and payments back-end systems. As an aggregator we understand the role of connecting very different environments such as that of a bank and a Telecoms operator in a value added manner that allows consumers to experience ubiquitous services." comments Deon van Heerden, Country Manager for Clickatell's MEA operations.

About Clickatell

We create a better world through technology, making commerce in chat accessible for everyone, everywhere. Consumers can now connect with brands to find goods and services, make purchases, track orders, and resolve issues with a simple text or chat. No need for cash, phone calls, in-person interactions, or apps. Founded in 2000 with now over 10,000 customers, Clickatell is powering the digital commerce transformation. Clickatell is headquartered in Silicon Valley, CA and has offices in Canada, South Africa, and Nigeria (www.clickatell.com).

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