This year’s VAS Africa sees a dedicated M-Money and M-Commerce stream bring together operators, banks and platform providers focusing on new business strategies evolving to meet growing market demands.
We spoke to Yolande Steyn, CEO eWallet Solutions, FBN, to hear her thoughts on the mobile money and digital payments sector and the future of digital services in Africa.
Yolande will be taking part in a panel discussion on Tuesday 30th June, Day One of VAS Africa, Creating sustainable and viable mobile financial services.
What is the future of digital services in Africa and what do you think are the top 3 major trends affecting your business in the region?
The potential for digital services in Africa is still largely untapped, but remains large. Due to the pervasiveness of mobile phones, digital will be phone-led, but with some unique local adaptations of the business models. Smart phones will soon be the leader of the pack, but without consistent, affordable, quality broadband data services, it will be curtailed in the potential impact it could have. mCommerce can now start finding its feet on the continent, but the success of mobile eCommerce is limited by infrastructural challenges as well (roads, logistics, customer support etc), specifically in the realm of physical goods. Thus, with the current limitations, virtual services will probably be the most successful.
What FNB products and services in the mobile money and digital payments sector are you most excited about at the moment?
The success of eWallet has shown that there is still massive scope for mobile money remittances as an entry point for mobile money in a country. The challenge lies in creating further financial services adoption off the back of it.
I am very excited about what we can achieve with the next phase of the eWallet. Also, using supplementary technologies such as self-service terminals, ATMs and other mobile applications we can further augment the value proposition.
FNB has many mobile services, such as the App, Cellphone Banking, InContact etc, but what excites me most is that we still see them all as relevant and growing. With the wide spread in our market from affluent to more entry-level, it is exciting that we can be relevant and helpful to all our customers, not just ones with smart phones.
Any particular current or recent projects/success stories that you want to share?
Currently we are piloting our eWallet cards, and I am super excited as to the potential these cards could have for eWallet recipients.
What do you see as the main challenges for this industry and what is your vision for the industry?
There are a number of challenges:
- To keep in line with the handset evolution, users need access to high quality affordable mobile data – which is not a reality yet. This puts the user experience and viability of new generation services at risk.
- Regulation remains a challenge to create easy access to financial services for the underbanked.
What are the biggest challenges in terms of connectivity and quality of services in the region and which technologies are most likely to resolve these issues?
The introduction of LTE (and similar signal technologies) and huge consumer data demand puts infrastructure supporting cell towers under pressure. Capacity upgrades to network towers are underway, and new innovative ways are being used to increase network coverage/capacity i.e. The technologies that will solve for most of the congestion issues would be a combination of signal technologies (LTE and 4G) as well as proper fibre infrastructure.
We struggle with a monopolisation of access technologies and broadband data (both wireless and fibre) which makes data services expensive and inconsistent.
What will be your message at the event?
Understanding what drives a viable mobile money product.
VAS Africa will be taking place this 30 June – 1 July in Johannesburg, South Africa. For more information, or to register for VAS Africa, please visit: www.comworldseries.com/vasafrica