Monday, March 25, 2013

Mobile Money Concentrated but Powerful

Mobile Money has not caught on everywhere, and it needs the right nurturing to work, but where it has taken off it has made a huge impact in the following countries:

Countries with high % of GDP in Mobile Money Systems
% of GDP in Mobile Money Systems
Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Paraguay, Rwanda, Tonga, and Zimbabwe
2% to 5%
Source: GSMA

A recent GSMA report,  highlights this and shows how operators and third parties have been successful in developing mobile money systems.

To add more emphatic details as to the importance of mobile money, in Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania, and Uganda, the total number of registered mobile money accounts in June 2012 was higher than the number of commercial bank accounts estimated by the IMF in their 2011 Financial Access Survey.

MMU announces the results from the 2012 Global Mobile Money Adoption Survey 

The question has always been can this type of service work in developed countries and the mobile money success in developing countries offers some clues. 
  • The majority of mobile money players are carriers
  • It is a business which is:
    • Very Op-Ex oriented
    • Needs to be a separate business outside of main telecom business
    • Needs blessing and support of the CEO
    • Requires a large number of agents and to have strict control of this distribution network
    • Works best when focused on one or two service at introduction
    • Requires getting people from registration to activation quickly
    • A human capital intensive business
    • Not dependent on current market share or competition 
    • Not a sure bet, some do well and some do not 

  • Benefits to consumer can vary by region (Savings, Bill Payment, etc.) (It is important to key into the local market needs)
  • There has to be a clear need by the consumer for this service and laser focus by the company to satisfy this need.

 A couple of ideas for developed markets come to mind like:
  • Making electronic payments as accepted as cash but with the ability to transmit to anyone.
  • Storing all important financial information in one place as mobile wallets are trying to do today
  • Having a place that records all of your transaction and helps a person save money. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Google Needs Retail

Andy Rubinstein in a recent article with AllThingsDigital  was quoted as saying, “They don’t have to go in the store and feel it anymore,” during a roundtable with reporters at Mobile World Congress on Tuesday.

Well sort of, for devices people already know, like phones, but there are plenty of other good reasons to have retail stores:

  1. Mind share competition with Apple:  Letting people know that Android brand is the engine for many popular devices.  Especially in the US where Apple is strongest.
  2. The tussle for Tablet mind share requires more outward reach:  With the many number of tablets like Amazon Kindle, iPad, and Microsoft Surface creating competition.  Tablets will be a key battleground for search and tablet’s success has been one of the reasons that Google has raised its mobile ad prices.  Stores will not be about smartphones it will be about tablets.
  3. An opportunity to interface with customer to improve Google products, and get problems fixed for people who are not that comfortable with technology.  This is a growing trend as older people use technology. 
  4. Promote their own home grown products: Google Glasses and Google TV.
  5. Provide a sales channel for its carrier services like Google Fiber.  And provide retail lessons learned as they expand their carrier presence.
  6. A way to showcase Google future products like the un- manned car. 

How technology is handed to you, and how a company helps people understand technology makes all the 


The one thing that Google is missing is the hand to hand touch. Apple has it and it increased its value, Google finally needs it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Interactive Experience Via WiFi

iSIGN ( is a company that provides alerts to customers or fans that have a smartphone and are within WiFi range (300 ft) and/or Bluetooth range.  The alerts can be offers, greetings or messages with links that allows the user to interact with the store or venue.  The system also remembers the user’s phone and can send alerts when they return like “Welcome Back” or provide offers that are tied to user information.

The service in essence provides an interactive experience at a store or venue.  It has been used successfully at Mardi Gras World, the Host Committee Media Party for Super Bowl XLVII to provide offers to guests with interactive information about the event and 45 local restaurants. In addition, iSIGN also announced the installation of 500 Smart Antennas being installed into National Oil & Gas’ network of gas stations and convenience stores in Canada. The company also has installations in malls, stadiums and theaters in Canada.  

One of the sticky features of the service is that the offer will reside on the phones media or picture file so the user can act on the offer later.

A service like this has to be used judiciously because too many offers can be annoying and a pain to remove from the picture file, but people are not going to mind getting a greeting along with an offer for a desired item.  The offers can be used outside the store to bring people in or in the store to greet people.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Apple’s Mobile Payment Pieces are in Place

Apple acquired mobile security firm AuthenTec for $356 Million last week. AuthenTec offers a fingerprint recognition technology which works with the swipe of the screen. This will allow Apple to move forward in the mobile payment space in a big way. Apple can build an ecosystem around retail shopping the way they did with the app store. In addition this mobile payment service can ramp up very quickly using stored credit card information on iTunes. Apple can put a complete and workable mobile payment system in place for the following reasons:
  • Doing a swipe allows the shopper to make payments over the Internet (like PayPal) rather than use a tap solution (This avoids the availability issue of tap solution POS terminals)
  • Fingerprinting is going to make the shopper easy to authenticate, no pin numbers to punch in.
  • Fingerprinting is going to make the shopper feel more secure (One of the main concerns of shopper with mobile payment systems.)
  • This will be a software based solution so that it will work on all older iPhones with a software upgrade.  
This kills four birds with one stone.
In addition:
  • If this is the way people pay, then they will also likely use the Apple Wallet called Passport. 
  • Apple will gain additional payment information which will allow them to offer more targeted ads and promotions.  
Apple will not release a product unless they believe it is beneficial to iPhone users. Some of the potential advantages to shoppers include:
  • Avoiding lines if shopping for a few items and/or if users want to input store items using the phone barcode reader  
  • Storing all card information in one place 
  • Not having to carry a wallet
  • Storing coupons all in one place 
  • Getting better deals with Passport.
Apple has a history of putting together various technologies to create a service and customer experience that is a game changer, and all the pieces are in place to do this for mobile payments. However, this cannot be a Beta solution like Siri, one of the reasons they have waited patiently for the right time to roll out.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

360 Fun

For those people interested in making cool 360 videos check out GoPano, . The GoPano gadget is essentially a mirror that takes video on a circle to allow for a 360 picture. The more pixels the camera has, the better the clarity on the video. The gadget can attach to a camera or an iphone 4.

It works better with the iPhone 4s than the 4 because the 4s has more pixel density. The product should also benefit from the expected popularity of the iPhone 5. The 360 video has a number of use cases because it is truly interactive video. Included is an example:

The user has to react to move around the video and get a different view. It can be used potentially in a number ways:

• In commercials where Easter eggs or other promotions can be found

• In a video story or game were the user can go in a different plot line or area depending on the direction  the user moves around the video.

• To view sports on TV or in the stadium from a different view.  A certain player or area of the field can be focused on.  In addtion, it can create video replays from any angle for a referee.

• To view bands or other types of live entertainment where the user can focus on any place or performer on the video.

The really great aspect of this gadget is that it costs $80 so it is very affordable. People and businesses can experiment on how to best use this type of video for fun or to promote a brand or both. A number of consumer product brands have purchased and given out to product managers and marketing executives to try out and come up with ideas.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Meeting People with Common Interests

Interact is a geo social application which is designed to do just that, interact based on location. To participate with the application the user needs the latest version of the iPhone Facebook application and to allow the application to link with Facebook.   The application uses your Facebook information such as connections and likes to determine mutual connections and interests between people.

The application is designed for people to meet other people who are in close proximity and have common interests. The screen shows all of the people who have common interests by rank within a given location. The radius of the person can be determined by a dimmer like switch which goes from a radius of 25 feet to the entire universe of most compatible users. The pictures of the people are large enough to that you get a clear idea of who they are. The app has the feel of who can I talk to today, and gives the user the opportunity to open up a SMS chat conversation. In addition the user can filter based on the type of interaction they want: any, dating, social or professional.

Interact is good for meeting people in social situations. Some people have mentioned that it can be good for remembering people names if you see them in a particular location. One drawback in creating an audience is the lack of Android support which encompasses a huge demographic who would find this application useful. Android support will be needed to give this application its full potential.

The other potential use case for this application is business situations and the company is planning to offer LinkedIn support. Right now growth in the application is via word of mouth. The app might not be for everyone.  To make the application more privacy friendly the  app designer interviewed women who are more particular in types of interactions they have and in displaying location. One of the incorporated feedbacks was to not include a map, which is a nice feature and allows for a degree of anonymity.

If you want to find out more about the thoughts on building a mobile geo social application by the founder Anthony Combs, it can be found at  Try out the app you may meet someone that you enjoy interacting with.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Enjoy Your Time App

If you are looking for something fun to do in your current vicinity and you are out and about, at work, or sitting in front of the TV, try the TimetoEnjoy application on your iPhone or iPad. The app seems to be geared to the 20 to 35 crowd, but has lots of suggestions around sports, theater, music, movies, entertainment, product demonstrations, cruises, classes, exhibits, tours. Basically a variety of activities that people are going to be interested in.

The site allows the viewer to look at activities on a certain day and time in a city. The interface is clean and simple. Clicking on the event allows the user to see a description, find directions, purchase tickets, and learn more via Google. The viewer can put the event in a calendar or communicate the event to friends. It allows the viewer to send these activity listings to friends via email, SMS, Facebook, and Twitter. The database for the activities comes from Eventful.

The app could be improved by offering more option for families with kids as they are always looking for something to do. There are filters which allow the user to avoid categories of activities in their search. Later versions of the application will have a learning function like Amazon and provide suggestions. These types of recommendations would be good for alerts. The positive aspect about a suggestion engine is that it tailors events to the viewer’s tastes; the bad part is that viewer may want to try something new that he/she had not had a previous interest in.

As it is now, the application is good for answering the common question, what do we do tonight? And getting an answer that will allow you to enjoy your time. For that reasons it is worth having on your phone.