Use your Cell Phone as your Wallet!!!
What is the potential of Mobile VAS in India?
The potential for VAS in India is huge. The average revenue per user (ARPU) for India is amongst the lowest in the world and hence the scope for innovative VAS is immense. Globally, mobile VAS accounts for 25–30 per cent of the total value of what operators generate. However, in India, according to the Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI), it is at 10 per cent currently and expected to contribute 20 per cent of the mobile revenues over the next three years.
The number of telecom subscribers in India has been steadily increasing and huge percentage of users is the young who are keen to explore and use VAS. In addition, there has been a steady decline in usage costs for VAS, leading to larger economic acceptance as well.
How can operators and content providers make more money with VAS?
With the revenue from voice services plummeting, mobile operators are looking at newer avenues for mobile Value Added Services (VAS). Propelled by the need to bring in service differentiation, operators are bringing new value-added services in order to satisfy the growing demand of Indian consumers.
Operators are realizing the huge potential of VAS in the Enterprise arena as well and are looking to newer applications and content on the phone to drive VAS revenue and differentiation. This is a good opportunity for content developers and mobile applications to leverage the same and drive revenues.
Brief us about your company?
mChek is a Bangalore-based company which provides patent-pending, mobile-based, security and payment services enabling users to transact through their mobiles for wide-ranging day-to-day requirements, including payment of utility bills and insurance policies, movie & travel ticketing, prepaid recharge and post-paid bill payment. In addition to SMS payments and shopping on the Internet, mChek provides an interactive shopping experience over WAP and in the mChek J2ME application. mChek is currently live on Airtel and Tata Indicom for bill payment and prepaid recharge.
mChek creates a payment platform which can easily be integrated on next-generation mobile-based services. The mChek platform, with the assistance of the operator, allows merchants, third-party aggregators and banks to deliver services directly to the consumer’s mobile.
Do you think Mobile Payment is a secure way to make payments?
mChek provides hassle-free and secure way of making transaction to its customers. Every transaction made on mChek platform needs to be approved by the user by entering a unique pin which is set by the user himself. Also, the account details including card number is not shared with anyone, including the merchant, making the system completely foolproof.
Mobile VAS has opened new doors to mobile telecommunications, beyond basic voice services and simple text messaging?
Mobile VAS constitutes a range of services beyond voice, messaging and data applications which utilizes the infrastructure of a telecom network operator to provide enhanced services to wireless consumers. The key drivers are not limited to telecom operators. There is now a critical mass of users in the Indian mobile telephony market who are experienced mobile users and are comfortable in using their phones for beyond basic voice applications. The first phase of growth for VAS has come in from these converts, and these users will continue to drive the market. Parallely, basic VAS applications will also continue to appeal to the new mobility category initiates.
What are the opportunities for you?
The mobile payments market in India is still in its infancy. Even if a fraction of mobile bill payments and recharge shift onto mobile payments, the industry shall experience substantial growth. However, opportunities exist much beyond mobile bill payment and can include all forms of transactions including merchant payments, utility bill payments, peer-to-peer money transfer and any other transaction scenario that the consumer faces today.
What kind of growth you are targeting?
As mentioned earlier, the opportunities in the mobile payments space are huge. We are targeting to convert the entire spectrum of mobile users into customers – mobile can be your wallet after all.
How about your partnerships?
mChek is currently in partnership with banks, telecom companies and a host of merchants. In addition, mChek application is VISA certified. ICICI, HDFC, Standard Chartered Bank, Citibank and Corporation Bank are some of the banks associated with us. Airtel and Tata Indicom use the mChek platform for facilitating mobile payments for their customers. Internationally, we are associated with Dialog Telekom, NDB Bank and Seylan Bank in Sri Lanka enabling secure payments for the users there.
What are the growth drivers for you?
Following are the growth drivers for mChek:
· Increasing use of alternate payment methods
· Service innovation for delivery on the mobile and growth in new mobile-based services
· The banking industries need to catch up with the telecom services growth in reaching out to more consumers.
What are the upcoming trends in this industry?
Mobile banking is one of the most popular and upcoming trends being witnessed by this industry. Over the last few years, the mobile and wireless markets have been the fastest growing segments. Today, mobile commerce, banking and payments are seen as key growth areas to improve customer service and reduce churn and also have a positive uptake on ARPU for mobile services providers. mChek provides applications which are pre-installed on all new Airtel and Tata Indicom SIM cards, allowing users of all handsets to benefit from the convenience of these services in a secure manner.
What are the challenges?
The primary challenge today is to create awareness among mobile users and induce them towards a trial – our past experience has been that over 95 per cent of the trial users have become regular users. At another level, there is a need to ensure that more and more merchant locations accept this form of transaction.
What are your major plans for 2009?
The focus for 2009 will be to expand our footprint in India by expanding our partnerships with telecom operators and banks and increasing the transaction environment with new merchant implementations. The focus will also be on rolling out our services in some key geographies internationally.