Comviva: 3G will Help in Better Access and Browser-Based Banking, but for M-Payments to Take Off, Handset and Application Compatibility, and Value Proposition Needs Fixing

Leader: Talking about India‘s unique economy of banked and unbanked customers, Srinivas Nidugondi, VP, Mobile Financial Solutions, Comviva tells us how Comviva is studying the requirement of each geography and building a proposition around that.



What is the latest that Comviva is doing towards financial inclusion?



While mobile payments and m-banking is targeted largely towards the banked segment, for the under banked and unbanked, the basic requirement is of banking. We believe mobile is that one device that can help a large segment of society across the world come into the organised banking services fold. Comviva recognises this and in a lot of our products we have built in right building blocks for banks and Mobile Network Operators (MNO).



The second one is the ease of use and intuitiveness which is

required. For example, literacy is an issue and there is a need to address that. It is important to know and address the ease of use of technology for customers who are not comfortable with it.  It is this sensitivity to user requirements that makes a product succeed, scale up and be replicable across geographies. This is exactly what Comviva is working at from the financial inclusion standpoint. We have examples of our platform being deployed successfully across geographies.



How will use your experience in handling mobile payments to leverage Comviva’s financial services?



Coming from a banking and payments background, what is evident when we talk of mobile payment as a VAS service is that it is eventually a financial transaction. I bring on board the requirements of understanding of consumer behaviour from a banking and payments standpoint and the regulatory constraints that the banks work with which would be followed by any service provider including an MNO. I also have the breadth and depth of experience that is required on mobile banking and payments, and financial inclusion. The mobile is a ubiquitous device which can be used for different requirements, right from having the experience of offering mobile banking solutions to absolute top of the segment, to the absolutely unbanked.



What is the scope of m-payments in India, as compared to other economies?



India has got a unique mix of two segments, one which is fully banked, and the other which is unbanked and under banked. India is a country which is going to be fully equipped with mobile devices and mobile are going to be embraced by both the segments. This is a fairly complex sort of a situation for customers, banks and telecom operators to handle and offer solutions that both require. As far as the banks or customers using these services are concerned, it is the choice of having the option to make payments in a secure and convenient manner. For example, can I buy a Google service using my mobile phone or Internet and make payment through the mobile phone? Can I make utility bill payments from my phones? This is where the convenience factor comes in. The other piece is about making cash payment over a counter, so while now we are paying by cash for our payments, we could also have the option of payment by using our mobile phones.  That is what will happen in one segment.



The other one is the unbanked and under banked segment. Mobile will be the low cost tool for acquisition and used to reflect remittances and allowing this segment to transfer funds back home and recharging their mobile top ups and this will be a convenient platform for them. In other parts of the world it’s either been fully banked or under banked and India is the only country which will see both segments being addressed simultaneously.



What effect has 3G had on m-banking and m-payments in India?



It is not about 3G which makes the difference because 3G will only bring in faster speed. What needs to be addressed is whether we have given the right value proposition to the customer and is it intuitive enough for customers to use. The really high end segment already had good speed, it is the question of the kind of handset and application compatibility and this issue will still remain. The second issue about the under banked and unbanked is that we have to look at alternative channels for them including SMS, USSD and IVR,  which are outside of the 3G domain. 3G will help in having better access and getting browser-based banking, but for mobile payments to take off it’s about the value proposition and  usability being addressed  and the right channel for the right application.



What is the latest that Comviva is doing in other emerging markets like Africa, Middle East, China and Brazil?



Comviva is currently looking at leveraging its experience of implementation of mobile financial services across other geographies. Our learnings are what we are packing into the Mobiquity suite and making it more modular, more relevant for the requirement of specific geography. At the same time, the final financial requirement at the macro level would be the same irrespective of the geography. We have had very rich experience and domain expertise internally, the combination of that will enrich the offering which we have. This will equip us to respond to specific requirements across different geographies faster. For example, in Africa we look at the under banked and unbanked segment but when we look at Far Eastern market, mobile payments may be something that takes the lead.  Comviva is studying the requirement of each geography and a proposition is being built around that. Our mobiquity suite of products are flexible enough to meet the specific requirements of each geography.




By Beryl M

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