What’s happening in mobile now here?
Conferences: Conferences have always been there, but tech conferences, especially mobile related ones, are really sexy these days thanks to Ushahidi – (currently working at Haiti earthquake emergency operations and M-Pesa from Vodafone/Safaricom.
February will see Mobile Web East Africa which will have a round-table format and will feature, among others @whiteafrican (Ushaidi), @ VincentMaher (Vodacom) @MosesKemibaro, and @kahenya.
Later in the month will be another Mobile Banking Conference (AITEC’s COMESA Banking & Mobile Money Conference)
Mobile Wallet: With over 8 million users signed up in two years, M-Pesa is all the rage in the media owing to the staggering M-pesa growth rate that continues. @whiteafrican in a recent post showed that mobile transfer volume numbers are actually quite low compared to formal banking systems; however the increasing number of subscribers and organizational partners that M-pesa is drawing indicates a growing disenchantment with traditional banking/payment channels. Partners now include airlines, schools, insurers, media houses (KBC, Nation media group), micro-financiers, banks (CFCStanbic, Family) as well as others such as Chloride Exide (solar equipment), Davis & Shirtlift (water pumps) , spare parts (Ecta-Subaru), Oriflame (beauty products), Gor Mahia etc.
Mobile Investment: Over at the Nairobi Stock Exchange, M-Pesa is represented in the form of Safaricom whose share price has been leading a resurgence of NSE shares by re-attracting foreign and institutional investors
Faux Mobile However as simple mobile banking strikes a connection with consumers tired of hidden bank charges, banks are rolling out their own mobile platforms. Kenyans largest bank Barclays has embarked mobile banking and recently announces that mobile banking is free – except at Barclays ‘free’ costs 100 shillings, as this was the tariff increment passed on to its customers at the same time
Know Your Mobile Users: There is a mandatory registration of mobile subscribers is ongoing, a mild shock to the laizze faire pre-paid when anyone with less than $1 could acquire a new phone line . However the exercise in not unique, and SIM registration is also ongoing in Tanzania, Nigeria and other countries. In Kenya the exercise will help reduced instances of crimes related to mobile phones such as extortion.
Mobile Domains: In March, there will another conference in Nairobi – ICANN which concerned with domain names – and in Kenya, embattled domain registrar Kenic has just announced raft of new low priced domains including mobile domains – .mobi.ke for mobile sites, and .me.ke for personal sites.
Mobile Data Costs: Why the high costs of mobile communications? Some argue that Kenya has a skewed regulatory environment that that favours Safaricom and protects it as a government revenue generating machine (Safaricom is Kenya’s largest corporate taxpayer) but hurts the consumer through high communications costs.