Monday, July 23, 2012

Mobile Money Already is a Major Revenue Driver for Safaricom

If you want an indication of how big a deal mobile money services could be for some mobile service providers, consider that M-Pesa, operated by Safaricom, now accounts for 13.3 percent of Safaricom’s total revenue.

To give you some idea of how important that is, consider that, in 2008, business services accounted for about 14 percent of global service provider revenues. In other words, as a percentage of revenue, what Safaricom is making from mobile money services is as significant as business services were, in 2008.

For Safaricom, mobile money already is more significant than mobile messaging revenues were in 2008, more important than video services, more important than mobile broadband.

On the other hand, mobile service providers will have very-different opportunities in developing markets, than in developed markets. A simple way of putting matters would be to say that, in developing markets, where the mobile device and mobile service provider provide the functional equivalent of a banking service, the obvious value is “access” to banking.

In developed regions, where banking is well developed, that will not be the case. Instead, mobile service providers will have to create more complex new services, and the role of third party partners will be crucial. Some might even argue that, ultimately, mobile service providers will have to create applications that are highly integrated with core banking functions, for example.

In developed regions, “applications” are the value, and that will require rather more complex infrastructure and relationships.

In developing regions, the demand is for low-cost, low-speed, and infrequent transfers of money, often of small amounts.

In developed regions, the demand if for high speed, higher value transactions that might occur more frequently as well.

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