Brian Richardson, Managing Director of Wizzit, tells The Com World Series team, ahead of Digital Services Africa 2013, that his company’s mission is financial inclusion aided by mobile technology
Com World Series: Please describe your company’s position and objectives in Africa
Brian Richardson: WIZZIT’s mission all about financial inclusion utilising mobile technology. Today WIZZIT is regarded as pioneers in mobile banking and financial inclusion. Our objective is to partner with leading banks in Africa and provide them with world-class cutting edge and proven technology together with a model to bank the unbanked. Obviously the Mobile Banking Technology is appropriate, applicable and relevant for a bank’s existing customers providing them with a state of the art mobile banking channel
CWS: What do you think are the top three major trends that are affecting your business in the region in 2013?
BR: Increased regulation around who can take and hold deposits. Up till know only registered Banks can take and hold customer deposits. Mobile Network Operators have seen a massive opportunity in this space and in a few countries with “friendly regulation” they have made a significant impact.
Clarity on the role of Mobile Network Operators and Banks: The former is a channel provider the latter the banking provider but there are very steep targets to meet around Financial Inclusion and Banks are going to have to put greater emphasis behind this.
Greater emphasis on interoperability, which provides a huge opportunity for banks
CWS: What services are likely to be most successful in the region in 2013 and the years to come?
BR: As the previously unbanked are brought into “economic Citizenship” there will be greater demand for traditional bank products including savings products. Loans and micro insurance products: People will want more than simply a convenient way to buy airtime. Mobile Health products and services are likely to take on greater interest. With the cost of “entry level smart phones” being driven down this opens a new world of opportunities including in the field of financial education and literacy.
Increased pressure brought to bear to reduce cash in circulation. The costs and inconvenience for all in using cash will come increasingly under the spotlight.
As this happens, mobile payments will take on increased importance and usage
CWS: What are the main challenges operators need to adapt to in order to deliver attractive services to their customers?
BR: Interoperability; security issues; changing needs and demands of the market place.
CWS: How are mobile money services likely to evolve in the years to come?
BR: More focus on mobile payments and mobile commerce; less emphasis on “cash in and cash out” and more on acceptance of mobile payments at point of sale for goods and services. Less reliance on Cards as emerging markets “leapfrog” this payment wave.
CWS: Which companies are showing most innovation in the region and what can be learnt from them?
BR: My view is that some of the innovation needs time to bed down before the market is “bombarded” with yet more innovation and disruption. Example of NFC and the “hype” that may not translate to reality in emerging markets: Much of the hype around Mobile banking will be downplayed; there will inevitably be fall out and failure as expectations are not met and financial returns are not achieved by service providers.
Innovation will be around application and satisfying unmet needs rather than around new disruptive technologies.
CWS: What are your expectations and objectives from attending Digital Services Africa?
BR: To debate some of these controversial view
CAPTION: MD, Wizzit, Brian Richardson