Archive for October, 2012

Good News for the 90% Unbanked in Pakistan

October 24, 2012 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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According to the World Bank’s Financial Inclusion Data, just 10 percent of the population of Pakistan has a bank account. That leaves 90 percent without one. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Pakistan is the fifth largest mobile phone market in Asia. With approximately 130 million mobile phone users, Pakistan has one of the fastest-developing branchless banking markets in the world.

Two recent Sybase 365 partnerships promise are part of this mobile banking expansion. We’ve joined forces with Habib Bank Limited (HBL) and Allied Bank Limited (ABL) to offer mobile financial services to customers across the country.

These deployments will enable both banks to enhance the mobile banking currently available to customers. Perhaps more important, they provide a new avenue into the formal banking system for the large unbanked and under-banked populations living in remote areas. With limited access to ATMs and the Internet, people living in rural areas have traditionally had to spend a day or more traveling to banks and utility providers to cash checks and pay bills, often waiting in a long lines when they arrive. The proliferation of mobile phones and mobile banking continues to help these communities by saving time, simplifying lives, improving security, and fuelling local economies.

The HBL deployment should launch before the end of this year. ABL has its sights set on 2013. While both banks are early to enter the market, United Bank Limited (UBL) Omni was the first bank in the country to offer branchless banking, launching in 2010. Easypaisa, by operator Telenor Pakistan, is a well-established and popular mobile commerce service that anyone can use.

Mobile is undoubtedly emerging as a vital banking channel in emerging and developed markets alike. Both of these branchless banking initiatives will help change the way Pakistanis interact with their financial institutions and communities—and undoubtedly bring more people into the formal banking system.

Apple iPhone 5 Ignores NFC Hype!

October 10, 2012 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Apple’s recent launch of iPhone 5 had one glaring omission: NFC.

The industry had been looking to Apple, hoping it would give near-field communication (NFC) a leg up by bringing the mobile payment technology to its large user base, and hopefully wrapping it within a great user experience.

So be it. It’s another hurdle for NFC of course, but it’s far from a death sentence. If Apple had put an NFC chip in iPhone 5, it would have simplified adoption, and been a clear play to own the secure element. The omission means that Apple is not planning to own any NFC secure element at this stage, so the question of who will remain unanswered.

Other device manufacturers are designing and releasing enabled devices—more than 60 phones are available now. Accessory manufacturers are launching NFC-enabled sleeves and cases that add the payment technology externally to iPhone 5 like what we have seen with the CBA Kaching application in Australia. (See this video for details.) Operators will still continue to push it onto the SIM cards.

Other banks and payment networks worldwide (Raiffeisen Bank International in Austria and the UnionPay network in China, for example) are also rolling out contactless payment services using external accessories or existing phones, and there are more plans and pilots afoot in France, Taiwan, and the U.S.

What was Apple thinking? My guess is that the company feels it has a stronger bid with mobile commerce through the 400 + million credit card details it has from iTunes. With that, why does the company need NFC? Besides, Apple is a closed shop. Always has been. I’m not sure why the news that it’s not supporting a global standard has been such a surprise.

Apple is continuing to do what it’s always done: enabling its own closed ecosystem, and going its own way.